Apollos, the Evangelist

Apollos, the Evangelist

Why do I say an Evangelist, just means a preacher of the Gospel.  That is what Apollos was. 

May I ask, Do you have to have the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel and do things in Jesus name.  Think of a Scripture to proof, either way.

Luke 9:49-50 Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”  (50)  But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

Have you heard a very powerful and inspiring preacher, that was Apollos. He has ways with words and a very powerful figure in the Bible. In the second century, he was teaching the gospel at Ephesus. Although not baptized himself, Apollos was known for his knowledge of the scriptures.

He was influenced by two individuals, Aquila and Priscilla, by teaching Apollos about Jesus and his teachings.  He was not too proud to have 2 members of the church instruct him with understanding, the right way.

However, Apollos was an important leader in the story of the early church. There are not many Scripture passages about Apollos, but what we do read about him reveals a man of honesty with a unique spiritual gift. He is worthy of careful study. Who Was Apollos, and What Was He Like? Apollos was a contemporary and worked with the Apostle Paul in the first century church.

Apollos name is mentioned only in 10 verses with 10 matches, Acts – 2 verses, 1 Corinthians – 7 verses and Titus – 1 verse

Who was Apollos.  He was learned in education, a Jew from Alexandria.

Acts 18:24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.

Luke said this about Apollos, had great biblical knowledge and was able to express that knowledge with enthusiasm and boldness, fervent in spirit.

Born at Alexandria:  Apollos has a Greek name was from the second largest city in the Roman Empire. Alexandria was the capital of the Roman province of Egypt and was a seaport on the northern coast of Egypt.

Founded by Alexander the Great, the city was very cosmopolitan. Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks all lived there; over a quarter of the population was Jewish, about million Jews. They travel back and forth to Jerusalem. 

The early church father Eusebius recorded the tradition that John Mark was one of the first missionaries who brought the message of Jesus to the people of Alexandria. Years earlier, prominent Jews from Alexandria who gathered in Jerusalem strongly opposed Stephen’s preaching about Jesus.

Acts 6:9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.  {Freedmen – slaves but had been set at liberty by Rome}  {Hellenistic Jews}

The Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures had been produced in that city about 150 years before the birth of Jesus. The city was famous for its great library and was considered the cultural and educational center of the world.   Philo, a Jewish philosopher and outstanding preacher, lived there. Perhaps Philo influenced Apollos’ early thinking. Josephus says the city had a library of more than half a million scrolls.

After this, Apollos became a preacher of the gospel, first in Achaia and then in Corinth. {Acts 18:27}  When the apostle Paul wrote his First Epistle to the Corinthians, Apollos was with or near him,{1 Cor 16:12}, probably at Ephesus in A.D. 57. He is mentioned but once more in the New Testament, {in Titus 3:13}. After this, nothing is known of him. Tradition makes him the bishop of Caesarea.

Eloquent man:  a learn man, fluent, an orator.

Mighty in the Scriptures:  thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, powerful or capable, mighty, strong

Came to Ephesus Church:  a mixture of Jews and Greek members, about 52 to 54 AD.  20 years after the resurrection of Jesus and when the Apostle Paul was temporary absence from Ephesus.

Acts 18:25 This man {Apollos} had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.

Instructed in the way of the Lord:  John the Baptist instructed his disciples the way of the Lord, Messiah.  So what did John really taught about Jesus.

Fervent in spirit:  His soul was on fire

Taught accurately the things of the Lord:  The Messiah coming from John the Baptist, again, so what did John teach.

Knew only the baptism of John:  a disciple of John the Baptist, again, so what did John teach the people and his disciples.

Remember, John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. John’s followers had scattered throughout Asia Minor and into Egypt.

Apollos was a disciple of John the Baptist. Apparently he did not know about  Lord Jesus on the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

Acts 18:26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Acts 18:27  And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace;

Cross to Achaia. Greece, the province of which Corinth was the Roman capital.

The brethren wrote. This is the first instance of church letter of introduction. This was written to show the brethren at Corinth that the bearer was worthy of their confidence.

Acts 18:28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

Vigorously refuted the Jews: Many of the believers in Corinth were Gentiles and were easy targets for opponents who knew the Hebrew Scriptures. However, the arguments of these Jews did not stand up against the brilliance of Apollos, the new Jewish Christian apologist.

Scriptures that Jesus:  Used the Old Testament, the only book the early church had.  After Paul left, Apollos went to Corinth and gained many followers, because of his speaking style, dividing the church into two parties, the followers of Paul and the followers of Apollos.

Acts 19:1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples.

Ephesus was on the coast, near sea level.

Some disciples:  in the same stage of Christian knowledge as Apollos at first, newly arrived, probably, and having had no communication as yet with the church at Ephesus.  Did Apollos instruct these disciples about the Messiah.

Acts 19:2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 

These disciples and Apollos did not know about the Holy Spirit.  Do you think Apollos Baptize them with John Baptism, before he was instructed by Aquila and Priscilla. 

Acts 19:3-4  And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”  (4)  Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

In the name of the Lord Jesus: This phrase was a declaration of ownership, an identification with Jesus as Lord and Savior of one’s life.

Acts 19:6-7 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.  (7)  Now the men were about twelve in all.

Next, we find a schism between 4 parties in the Corinthian Church, of which two attached themselves to Paul and Apollos respectively, using their names, the third and fourth were Peter, identified as Cephas, and Jesus Christ himself.

The Apostle Paul had to show his preaching was not like that of Apollos preaching to the Corinthian Church.  Later on, Judaizing teachers from Jerusalem preached the gospel in a spirit of direct hostility to Apostle Paul personally. To this third party, we may perhaps add a fourth, that, under the name of “the followers of Christ.”  This was the rebellion Paul writes about. 

1 Corinthians 2:1-2 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  (2)  For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Paul learned at the feet of Gamaliel and had good understand of Greek literature and poets. 

1 Corinthians 2:3-4 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  (4)  And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

Paul decided to teach Jesus and His crucified.  Remember, Paul was instructed by Jesus for over 3 years.  {Galatians 1:11-20}

1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul wanted to show Jesus was glorified in his death while by presenting Paul own weaknesses. Then the gospel message could be clearly seen.

Divisions in the Church

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.   {schism in church}

Paul pleaded for an outward expression that comes from an inward spirit. Not only did Paul encourage the Corinthians to speak the same thing and have external unity; he also urged them to be joined together in a unity of hearts and minds that expresses the unity of the one body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.

Paul avoided dealing in rumors or secrecy; he openly named his sources: Chloe’s household. We know little of this woman and her household except what this verse implies. Chloe lived in Corinth or Ephesus, and the Corinthians respected her word.

1 Corinthians 1:12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.”

The Corinthian church was divided into at least four factions, following four prominent leaders.

1 Corinthians 1:13-15 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  (14)  I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,  (15)  lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name.

Corinthians had taken to identifying with their spiritual mentors rather than Christ.  Strong words from the Apostle Paul.

1 Corinthians 3:2-3 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;  (3)  for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

You are still carnal, strong words

1 Corinthians 3:4-5 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?  (5)  Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?

Ministers through whom you believed:  Paul called Apollos a minister, who they believed.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.  (7)  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

So Paul says Apollos water the church, basically taking care of the Corinthian Church, helping it to grow.

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours:  (22)  whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours.  (23)  And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Apollo was simply one of many God’s servants for the benefit of His people.

1 Corinthians 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.

1 Corinthians 16:12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.

Paul now calls Apollos brother or saint.  Why not come, is it because of the divisions among the Corinthians.  {schism in the church}

Titus 3:13 Send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste, that they may lack nothing.

It was the custom of the churches to help the early evangelists forward on their journeys.   Zenas was a lawyer or scribe, a Christian, Hippolytus mentions Zenas as one of the Seventy, and afterwards bishop of Diospolis.

Jerome, historian, states that Apollos was so dissatisfied with the division at Corinth that he retired to Crete with Zenas; and that once the schism had been healed by Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Apollos returned to the city and became one of its elders.  No known surviving text written by Apollos.

Paul and Apollos always appear to be in beautiful harmony and working together.

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