Apollos was a powerful teacher and preacher of the gospel. We don't know a lot about him but it is clear that he was held in high regard as a teacher of the gospel by the people and also by the disciples, especially Paul.
In this section of scripture Apollos first comes to the notice of the disciples when he is found speaking to the Jews in the synagogue. He is described as an eloquent speaker and teacher of the gospel, but his knowledge is still limited for although he speaks about the Christ, he only understands the coming of the Christ from the things that were taught by John the Baptist.
This is an interesting situation both for Apollos and also for us today. His situation in some ways parallels that of many Christians today and the solution to his situation is also significant for us today as well. Before we look at this, let us first have a look at Apollos. Who he was and what he did.
A Powerful Teacher
As already mentioned, Apollos was a powerful, eloquent teacher and preacher of the gospel. We see in these scriptures when he first was noticed by the disciples that he was powerfully confusing the Jews regarding the coming of the Christ even though his knowledge was limited to the teachings of John the Baptist. The scriptures here say,
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue…
First we see that Apollos was “competent in the scriptures.” Another version of this scripture says Apollos was “well versed in the scriptures.”
From these descriptures it is evident that Apollos had spent time studying and understanding the scriptures. He had a solid and accurate understanding of the scriptures and he was not afraid to speak his mind about these things to teach the people. He knew his stuff!
More than that, he knew that the coming of the Christ was imminent for he had been taught the ministry of John the Baptist, which was to prepare the way of The Lord and make His paths straight in readiness for the appearance of the Christ to bring salvation to the world. Apollos knew this and he spoke fervently and powerfully about it in the synagogue.
So powerful was his teaching that later we see in the scriptures,
27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
He powerfully refuted the Jewish leaders and teachers showing from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. But first he needed to learn these things himself for he was caught in a time warp.
No not a “It's just a jump to the left…” kind of time warp but Apollos was caught in his understanding because his knowledge was from a previous time.
Let me explain. We talk about two main time periods in an historical and a religious sense. Those two periods are separated at the time of Jesus Christ. From a calendar perspective the Western world date system is supposedly based around the time that Christ was born and all dates are referenced back to that date. (Note: It has been proven that the calculations are not exact and the dates are out by about three years. However this is not important for this discussion). Thus all historical events are represented as AD or BC using the date of Jesus birth as the pivot point.
Similarly from a religious perspective we talk about two significant eras also, being the New Covenanat Age and the Old Covenant Age and once again these are referenced to Jesus with the New Testament age commencing at His death.
However between these two covenant ages there was a transition period. Jesus mentioned it in Luke 16:16 where he said,
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached…”
John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus. He began preaching the baptism of repentance which was the starting point for entry into the Kingdom of God. But this was just a preparation stage for John also preached to the people telling them that he was not the Christ but that they should beleive in the one who was to come after himself, that is, Jesus.
The ministry of John the Baptist was carried far and wide through the known world for we see here that Apollos was a disciple of John and we see other disciples in the region of Ephesus that Paul found (refer Acts 19). But the ministry of John was only meant to be a preparation for that time. It was not meant to be THE ministry but only to get the people ready for the coming of the saviour.
When Jesus came we see John's response as he spoke to his disciples saying in John 3:28-30,
28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.' 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John recognised that with the coming of Christ Jesus and his bearing witness to Jesus being the Christ that John's ministry and work had run its course. His time was ending and Jesus' ministry to the world was about to commence to bring salvation to all of mankind.
Jesus had come and the truth of salvation in the gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached throughout the world by His disciples. But Apollos was still holding to the ministry of John the Baptist for he had not yet heard of Jesus and the gospel of salvation.
Thus Apollos was in a time warp so to speak for his knowledge and understanding of the good news was incomplete. He had not heard the fulness of the ministry even though he knew it was to come. He still believed that the teachings of John were in place, not realising that John's ministry had now been superseded in the ministry of Jesus Christ and the fulness of the New Covenant He came to preach.
A Lesson For Today
Apollos was lucky. When Aquila and Priscilla found him and heard him speak they took him aside privately and opened him up to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. They gave Apollos the insight he lacked to take him out of the time warp of the past and into the future with Jesus Christ. And Apollos became a powerful advocate for the truth as he argued strongly and convinced the Jews that Jesus was indeed the Christ and Messiah the nation had been awaiting.
And yet today we see many people calling themselves Christians who, like Apollos, are caught in a time warp. They accept Christ at some level but they still live as if they are not in the new covenant that Jesus brought into being and paid for with His blood. They still live in the state that Paul described in Colossians 2:20-23 where he upbraided that church saying,
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations- 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)-according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
How many Christians live today as if they are bound under regulations of a church, laws, ordinances and more that do not lead to transformation of the flesh into the image of Christ but simply make them “look religious?” How many practice piety as if it were a spectator sport rather than a change of life, which is what repentance is all about? How many blindly follow commands of their church leaders without testing what they are taught, checking the word for themself and seeking God to provide answers that lead to His righteousness?
Answer? Countless numbers! Too many are stuck in the time warp of old covenant thinking, failing to understand how Jesus has set them free from the old covenant when He established the new covenant.
And this should not come as a surprise. I saw a statistic a while ago that suggested as many as 12% of people CALLING THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS had NEVER opened a bible! That is an awful lot of people and an even worse statement of the state of the church that they are not encouraged to look for themselves to seek the truth.
Do not fall into that trap. Seek The Lord to bring about circumstances where you can hear and find the fulness of the truth. Aquila and Priscilla were brought to Apollos. Ask The Lord to bring you understanding also, whether through His direct intervention by the Holy Spirit, or by bring you into contact with teachers gifted by the Holy Spirit to open these things up to you. He WILL help and provide answers for those who seek Him.
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