Acts 18:1-3 “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.”
Paul leaves Athens and arrives in Corinth, where he meets Aquila and Priscilla, and lives with them.
Acts 18:4-11 “And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”
Initially, Paul reaches for the Jews at Corinth, reasoning with them and testifying that Jesus was their Messiah [Christ]. But because he is rejected, he turns to the Gentiles and has great success. The Lord Himself appears to Paul and assures him that many souls will be saved here in this city. Paul remains there at Corinth for a year and a half.
Acts 18:19-23 “And he came to Ephesus, and left them there… ”
After a year and a half, Paul travels from Corinth to Ephesus with Aquila and Priscilla and leaves the two of them there. He then returns to Caesarea and goes to visit the church at Antioch, ending his 2nd missionary journey.
Paul then embarks on his 3rd missionary journey, returning to the churches in Galatia and Phrygia to strengthen and encourage the disciples.
Meanwhile, Aquila and Priscilla are still at Ephesus….
Acts 18:24 “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.”
Apollos comes to Ephesus.
Note: Apollos was an Alexandrian Jew, highly educated and well-spoken. Luke declares that he was “mighty in the scriptures!”
Coming from Alexandria, it is highly likely that he had been a practitioner of Hellenistic Judaism.
“Hellenistic Judaism was a form of Judaism in the ancient world that combined Jewish religious tradition with elements of Greek culture. Until the fall of the Roman Empire and the Muslim conquests of the Eastern Mediterranean, the main centers of Hellenistic Judaism were Alexandria (Egypt) and Antioch (now Southern Turkey), the two main Greek urban settlements of the Middle East and North Africa area, both founded at the end of the 4th century BCE in the wake of the conquests of Alexander the Great. Hellenistic Judaism also existed in Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period, where there was conflict between Hellenizers and traditionalists (sometimes called Judaizers).”
Acts 18:25-26 “This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.”
NOTICE: Apollos was–
- Instructed in the way of the Lord;
- Fervent in spirit;
- Diligently preaching and teaching the things of the Lord;
- Very limited in his knowledge of the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
When Aquila and Priscilla heard him boldly preaching in the synagogue, they privately taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ (“the way of God more perfectly”).
Based upon subsequent testimony of scripture (e.g., v28), we are assured that Apollos believed the gospel of Jesus Christ and was born again of the water and the spirit according to Acts 2:38.
Acts 18:27-28 “And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.”
Apollos decides to leave Ephesus and go to Achaia, the region of Corinth.
The Ephesian brethren wrote a letter of recommendation for Apollos to take to the disciples at Corinth (see Acts 19:1).
When Apollos arrives at Corinth, he was a tremendous asset to the church there – “he helped them much which had believed through grace.”
Remarkably, at Corinth Apollos publicly “mightily convinced the Jews … showing by the scriptures that Jesus was [Messiah].”
- These are the same Jews with whom Paul reasoned and to whom he testified in vv.4-5!
- Paul’s words were viciously rejected, while the words of Apollos were apparently graciously received!
Acts 19:1-3 “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.”
While Apollos was at Corinth, convincing the Jews that Jesus was their Messiah, Paul arrives at Ephesus, and encounters a group of twelve disciples (v7) who only knew of John’s baptism.
It is not improbable that these men were converts of Apollos, prior to his earlier encounter at Ephesus with Aquila and Priscilla in Acts 18:26!
Acts 19:4-7 “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.”
Paul declares to the twelve disciples at Ephesus the same message that Aquila and Priscilla had presented to Apollos when they heard him boldly preaching in the synagogue at Ephesus.
As a result, they were born again of the water and spirit according to Acts 2:38–i.e., they were baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ and they received the gift of the Holy Ghost in the same manner as others did in Acts 2, Acts 8 and Acts 10!
There can be no doubt that Apollos was mightily used of God after his conversion, and was well-received by the church at Corinth. He is so well thought of that his ministry is listed by the Apostle Paul in the context of the ministries of Peter, Paul and Jesus Christ, Himself!
1 Corinthians 1
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
How remarkable is this!!
Pastor Tim D. Cormier