Lessons from the life of Apollos Acts 18

Lessons from the life of Apollos April 15, 2020 Acts 18:24-21:14

Introduction to Apollos:

It had been over 25 years since the death of John the Baptist. It is not probable that Apollos was old enough to have been present at John’s preaching and baptizing. It seems that he heard and was baptized by one that had been with John. The Scripture bears witness that Apollos preached accurately the message that was proclaimed up to that time.

Apollos invested himself into knowing and teaching God’s Word. We see –

1. His eloquence. Acts 18:24a A communicator

“…an eloquent man…” The word ‘eloquent’ means that Apollos was good in words and ideas. He could help others understand the meaning of God’s Word and how they would apply to their lives. He took the time to know the background of those listening and made sure he spoke to them in such a way that they would understand.

He took the opportunity to prepare himself as we see from –

2. His education. Acts 18:24b,25

a. His privilege – the opportunity of education.

The city had been founded by Alexander the Great to bear a testimony of his greatness. Upon his death, Ptolemy I, one of his generals, took control of Egypt and continued to build the city. He brought thousands of Jews and gave them economic opportunity and religious freedom. As part of his improvements to the city, he built great libraries and schools.
Ptolemy II continued the expansion of the city. He treated the Jews well and tradition teaches that he asked the High Priest in Jerusalem to send 72 priests to translate the Scriptures from Hebrew to Greek. This opened the Word of God to the world.

From reading about his life, we understand –

b. His purpose. Acts 18:24 The know the Word of God.

1). To understand the Word of God. “…mighty in the Scriptures…”
2). To understand the wisdom of God “…instructed in the way of the Lord…”

The Scriptures were central in his ministry as before “…mighty in the Scriptures…”, and once he was “instructed in the way of the Lord…” he publicly declared to the Jews – “showing by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus” (18:28). In his purpose to know the Word of God, He learned that the Scriptures were the means of proof that Jesus is Messiah.

Apollos did not apply himself to study only for himself and his own benefit. Every teacher knows the excitement of learning new things and the enjoyment of knowing the answers to the questions what, where, when, why, and how? It is true that some people enjoy studying and learning just for the sake of increasing knowledge. King Solomon warned people like this –

Ecclesiastes 12:12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
Apollos studied and learned how to tell others about what he had learned because he had a great desire that other people would learn of God. We see this in –

3. His enthusiasm – the passion to Preach Acts 18:25

a. He must have loved to preach.
b. He must have lived to preach.
c. He must have been likeminded with Paul.
Have someone read Romans 1:15,16

1). Apollos preached with fire! Acts 18:25 “…fervent in the spirit…”

He was excited about knowing God and was very energetic in sharing God’s Word with others. Take a moment and think about how emotional you get when you have a wonderful and amazing thing to tell someone else. You want them to think it is as wonderful and amazing as you do. You may use more hand gestures, speaking a bit louder and faster because it means so much to you.

He not only preached excitedly, he –

2). Apollos preached with fear! “…taught diligently…”

Apollos understood the importance of God’s message. As God is True, so is His Word. To preach and teach God’s Word is a tremendous responsibility. James warned preachers and teachers to be careful and understand that we are accountable to God –

James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

While Apollos may have not known the warning given through James at this time, he would have known of God’s warning to those who would preach false doctrine as given in –

Deuteronomy 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

Apollos “…taught diligently…”. which means he taught carefully, accurately knowing that God knew the message he preached.

Accurately. What he preached was right, but he did not know the whole message!

4. His enlightenment. He was ready to learn.

This is a blessed account of a man who was ready to listen to others and was prepared to know, accept, and apply the truth.

Acts 18:26 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.

Apollos had visited the synagogue in Ephesus and been allowed to preach. Aquila and Priscilla were attending the meetings and, after hearing him preach and finding him in need of knowing more of the truth, invited him to their home following the meeting. These relative newcomers to Ephesus, tentmakers by trade, invited this travelling preacher home and then requested if they could help him to know truth that he was not aware of. We learn of the humble and willing spirit of Apollos who trusted that God would confirm His Truth to him as he listened to this husband and wife teach him. We learn from Apollos that we should be prepared to learn truth from where the truth is taught, whether in the most respected universities of the greatest centers of learning, or the simple home of dedicated disciples of the Lord.

5. His earnestness Acts 27a “…he was disposed to go…” Ready to serve, as was Paul.

Even though the church in Corinth was established, he was burdened to go and help them grow.

Romans 1:15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

6. His encouragement. Acts 18:27b “…the brethren wrote…” Confidence shown in him

Apollos had displayed a genuine love for God, His Word, and the commission to “…preach the gospel to every creature”. The Christians in Ephesus recognized this love and recommended that those he would meet along the way should help him to accomplish God’s will for his life.

Many years later as Apollos continued to travel and preach, Paul wrote to Titus that the churches should be partners in the ministry and help them with whatever they needed to keep on traveling and preaching –

Titus 3:13 Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.

During these many years we see the blessing he was to so many people, seeing people learn the truth and turn to God for salvation and then building them up in the truth and fulfilling the Lord’s command –

Mt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

7. His evangelism and exhortation was to the glory of God. Have a family member read Acts 18:27c,28. “…helped them much which had believed…”

Apollos was not interested in building a following for himself. His desire was to bring glory to God.

a. He attempted to help the church through preaching and teaching the truth. He reinforced the truth that they had received.

1 Corinthians 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

b. He attracted a following, but many simply were looking for an alternative to Paul. Paul told them that he had not come to them with eloquence –

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

But the people noted that Apollos was naturally eloquent. They were entertained, much as those in Ezekiel’s day –

Ezekiel 33:32 And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.

Apollos did not want to return to this church to minister, even at the encouragement of Paul.
He did not want to add to the divisive nature of the people until they settled their issues under the leadership of the Lord through the Apostle Paul –

1 Corinthians 16:12 As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.

Apollos had one desire in his life – To preach the truth of God and see Him exalted as the Apostle Paul had declared –

Philippians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Is this our desire tonight? What lessons do we learn from the life of Apollos? Will you apply those lessons to your lives, beginning now?
Do we have this willingness to listen and be taught the truth of God’s Word.
Do we have this desire to use what we have learned for the glory of God.

About sjbjburke

I am an evangelist that enjoys Bible study and I look forward to posting outlines and receiving helpful comments. My wife and I celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary in 2022 and we enjoy serving the Lord together.
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