Learning From The Life Of: Apollos

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man 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.” (Acts 18:24-25)

In my personal opinion, Apollos is one of the coolest people in the New Testament! He only appears in a few places in Scripture (Acts 18:24-28, 1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:5-6, 4:6, and Titus 3:13), yet we learn a ton about the kind of man he was, and have much to learn from our brother in Christ.

The first thing we learn about Apollos is his interesting background: He’s a Hellenistic Jewish man from Alexandria, Egypt. Alexandria was basically the most intelligent city in the Greco-Roman world, and the second largest city in the Roman empire; it even had a library with over 500,000 scrolls! It’s clear Apollos came from such a place by the second thing we learn about him: he’s a great speaker, a well-learned person, and knows the Old Testament very well. In this way, he’s very similar to Paul, as both men were incredibly intelligent and studious people who knew Scripture like the back of their hand. This proves that, although it’s hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God (including people rich in knowledge since they’re tempted to trust in themselves rather than God), Jesus is able and willing to use education and intelligence for His Kingdom. Reason and fact aren’t in opposition to faith, they enhance it!

The next thing we learn about Apollos is that he was on fire for the Kingdom of God. Even before he knew all the details of the Gospel, he was passionately preaching and teaching the people of Ephesus what he knew, and speaking boldly in the synagogues! Apollos was zealous for the Lord, and felt compelled to tell everyone he could about the way of Christ. Paul says in Romans 12:11 that all believers should be fervent in spirit, and passionate in our love of Jesus. Apollos was a great model for was a faith on fire looks like!

After Aquila and Priscilla teach Apollos the full Gospel, he travels to Corinth, where we learn the next big thing about Apollos: he was a gifted apologist. An apologist is someone who’s good at answering questions and refuting arguments/attacks against the faith in order to prove the truth. One way Apollos helped serve the Corinthian church was by combating the opposition they faced from unbelieving Jews as he proved to them from Scripture that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. To put that in perspective, imagine someone showed up and joined your church one day, and was great at proving to atheists, muslims, and other unbelievers that Jesus is the Son of God who rose from the dead. Chances are your faith would get way stronger! That’s what Apollos’ apologetic gifts did for the Corinthians.

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 1 Corinthians 3:5-8

The last thing we learn about Apollos is that, as spiritually gifted and powerful as Apollos was, he was just a humble servant of Jesus Christ. When Paul is scolding the Corinthians for being divided because of which leader they liked the best, he reminds them that he and Apollos were just the chosen vessels through whom Jesus planted and watered the church. Jesus worked through Apollos to strengthen their faith and nourish what Paul had planted, but ultimately it’s only Jesus who really matters, since He’s the One who causes growth to happen! This is perhaps the most important thing we learn from Apollos, because it’s so easy for us to put others on a pedestal for their spiritual gifts and strong faith, but ultimately all glory and honor goes to Jesus, because He’s behind it all. Everything great about Apollos was due to Jesus’ work in him for His Kingdom, because Apollos was willing to kneel before the King and serve Him.

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