A Few Verses About a Great Preacher

I’m talking about Apollos. Unfortunately, he’s only mentioned in just seven passages of the New Testament. Paul never wrote an inspired book to him like he did for Timothy and Titus. And Apollos was not given the role of writing any of the New Testament books, although some believe the book of Hebrews may have been his. But the small window of information we do have about him is enough to find great encouragement.

The lengthiest piece about him is found in Acts 18:24-28, which tells us he was a Jew born in Alexandria, Egypt. The city was renown for its scholars, schools, and its great library, and it would seem natural that eloquent Apollos would come from there. He bursts into New Testament history when he visited Ephesus and began teaching in its synagogue. He fervently believed in Jesus Christ, having been instructed by followers of John the Baptist and his temporary baptism of repentance. In the synagogue audience were Priscilla and Aquila who confronted him with a more accurate knowledge of the way of God. Acts 18 implies he accepted their thoughts and made any necessary changes.

With encouragement from the young Ephesian church, Apollos went to Corinth and helped the new congregation there, and “he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (18:28). The man’s zeal and persuasive ability impressed not only the church in Corinth, but also the Jews of the city. In fact, Paul reveals in 1 Cor.1:12 and 3:5-6 that some members of the church were idolizing him, and division was beginning to happen in Corinth. No doubt Apollos was as upset about this as Paul. It seems that Apollos later returned to Ephesus where Paul encouraged him to consider going back to Corinth with some other traveling Christians, but he declined (1 Cor.16:12). He probably didn’t want to stir up any more division. The last we read of Apollos is in Titus 3:13 where Paul urged Titus in Crete to help him on his way to another location to preach.

Good preachers are in demand, but how precarious their position can be. Apollos was educated and articulate, but he had the humility to accept correction about the truth. He was impressive but would not ride the wave of popularity. Above all he was zealous for the Lord and modeled his life after Him. What a great example for all of us from just a few verses in the New Testament.

– Tim Johnson