Meet Apollo(s) -the man not the spacecraft- Saturday, 6th Week of Easter- Acts 18:23-28

Meet Apollo(s) the man not the spacecraft Saturday, 6th Week of Easter- Acts 18:23-28

In order to fully understand this text I suggest you begin your reading from verse eighteen. Paul leaves Corinth and travels towards Antioch in Syria. He takes with him his new found companions Aquila and Priscilla who had fled the persecution of the Emperor Claudius in Rome and who had pitched their tent ( literally for they were tent makers) in Corinth.

It is in Ephesus ( Modern day Turkey) that Paul makes a brief stop and leaves Aquila and Priscilla to minster, for he is received well and even though the members of the synagogue ask him to stay, he moves on to Jerusalem via Caesarea and then to Antioch in Syria. It is in this place that they were first called Christians.

Verse 23 signals the beginning of Paul’s third missionary journey. This journey is more a ‘review and renewal’ of the Churches he established on his first missionary journey, for Paul strengthens the disciples in these Churches. It is also a journey where he makes a long stop of three years in Ephesus. (Acts 20:31), the longest he has ever stayed in any place.

For some reason, St Luke, the author of the Acts, chooses to give us a snippet into the Church of Ephesus even before Paul sets foot. Perhaps he wants to lay the background to the Church in Ephesus. We know that Paul left Aquila and Priscilla to minister in Ephesus. We are now told that in the very synagogue a Jew by the name of Apollos arrives from Alexandria.

In order to get a clearer understanding into the mind and ministry of Apollos we need to look at where he came from. Alexandria, situated on the bank of the Nile in Egypt, was in the NT a flourishing city with one third of its population being Jews. The city was culturally sought after for it had its famous library, university, lighthouse and even a museum.  This is the city that gave us the translation of the Bible from Hebrew to Greek (Septuagint)

Much is said in these few verse about Apollos. He is a Jew who had been instructed in the way of the Lord. He is an eloquent speaker for he speaks with “burning enthusiasm” in the synagogue. He is a teacher for we are told that he was “well versed in the scriptures” and hence is able to “teach accurately”.  But we are told that he speaks “matters concerning Jesus though he knew only the baptism of John.”

What does this mean? During Jesus’ lifetime, a number of John’s disciples travelled into the Jewish Diaspora preaching the message of John which included the coming of the Messiah in the person of Jesus. However Apollos has an incomplete idea of the mission and purpose of Jesus and hence when he speaks in the synagogue, Aquila and Priscilla have to take him aside and explain to him the ‘Way of God’ more accurately.

So what is it that was incomplete for Apollos? John the Baptist preached a Baptist for the repentance of sin; Jesus’ baptism was an invitation to salvation. While we may get lost in this theological insight let us not get lost in what ought to be picked up by sight; namely the method of fraternal correction.

Read carefully the words of scripture which I deliberately did not high light earlier, namely how when Aquila and Priscilla realised that this eloquent speaker had an incomplete knowledge of the faith they “ took his aside and explained.” This line warmed the cockles of my heart.

How beautiful is fraternal correction when done with a pure heart and not out of jealousy. We know that Apollos is “encouraged by the community” not put down by jealousy.  We know that Apollos continues to be successful for his work in Corinth is well documented by 1 Corinthian 1:12; 3:4-6, 22; 4:6.

If you are reading this reflection today, take a moment to call a friend in ministry or one who serves the Church and encourage and appreciate them. If your heart is filled with jealousy for someone whose ministry is successful then take a moment to bow your head and ask the Lord to forgive you and fill your life with joy.

Fr Warner D’souza

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One thought on “Meet Apollo(s) -the man not the spacecraft- Saturday, 6th Week of Easter- Acts 18:23-28”

  • Ladislaus Louis D'Souza · Edit

    Verrrrrrrrry educative, informative and inspiring. Warner, u’d do any Seminary or religious house proud with such dissertations as what u put out on Pottypadre. Thank u 4 the spirit u infuse in readers – IN ME! – 2 read and understand the Scriptures more deeply.


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