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Home » Daily Readings

Apollos Introduced to the Way

Submitted by on Saturday, 23 May 2009One Comment

Priscilla-aquila

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In today’s reading from Acts 18:23–28, another important figure in the building-up of the Church is introduced by Luke:  Apollos of Alexandria.  We are told that the husband and wife team, Priscilla and Aquila introduce him to the way.

Apollos is described by Luke as “a native of Alexandria … eloquent … competent in the Scriptures.” He comes to Ephesus and there proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 18:24). And while he knew a lot of things about the Christ, his baptism was that of John the Baptist. Priscilla and Aquila, the husband and wife team who were companions of Paul, corrected him and introduced him to the Way. When Paul visits Ephesus (Acts 19:1), Apollos was already in Corinth, having been encouraged by the brothers to go there. We no longer here about Apollos in Acts. We next read of him in the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, written from Ephesus. The Corinthian community has become a divided community because of cliques identifying themselves with particular apostles (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4). Paul proceeds to correct this mistaken attitude: he together with Apollos are instruments of God, nothing more (3:5.6.22); and all of these apostles belong to the Corinthians so that they in turn can truly belong to God. In 1 Corinthians 4:6, we find a statement which has been quoted as if it means that nothing should be added to the gospel.

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. (1 Corinthians 4:6)

Those who misquote this statement begin the quotation after “for your benefit, brothers…” and cut it after “beyond what is written”. Thus the quote would appear “..that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written…”. This is a patent distortion of what Paul is saying because he is referring not to the gospel he preaches but to the explanation he gives about his and Apollos’s role as evangelists. The phrase “what is written” is not a reference to the whole of Scriptures, but to what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians about the situation caused by cliques forming around particular evangelists.

Again in 1 Corinthians 16:12, Paul mentions Apollos in a way that makes us understand that this latter has become a part of Paul’s team of evangelists. The same holds for the referencein Titus 3:13 where Paul instructs Titus to send Apollos and Zenas “on their way”.

For the first time in Luke-Acts we are shown what happens to a follower of the Baptist who was not associated with the group of Jesus. We do not know how Apollos got to the knowledge that Jesus was the Messiah, but he did get to join The Way through Aquila and Priscilla. We know that the original Gospel, that of Mark, begins with the ministry of John the Baptist and that Matthew and Luke share sayings (those drawn from Q) where Jesus speaks positively about John. Luke begins his birth narratives about John the Baptist and Jesus comparing their roles and underlining what the Baptist meant when he said: “the one coming after me is greater … I baptize with water, but He will baptize in the Holy Spirit.” Some of the original disciples of Jesus were followers of the Baptist (cf. John 1) and it is John the Evangelist who tells us that the Baptist lived with one preoccupation: to point people to the Christ, the one true Light, the Bridegroom for whom he is the best man. From all this, we can surmise how Apollos was led to the Way: his own baptism, received from John, brought him to the knowledge of the Christ. And it was the role of those who have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit to bring him to the Way.

Acts 18:23
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23And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went through the country of Galatia and Phrygia, in order, confirming all the disciples.
Acts 18:24
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24Now a certain Jew, named Apollo, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus, one mighty in the scriptures.
Acts 19:1
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1And it came to pass, while Apollo was at Corinth, that Paul having passed through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples.
1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4
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112Now this I say, that every one of you saith: I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I am of Cephas; and I of Christ.
34For while one saith, I indeed am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollo; are you not men? What then is Apollo, and what is Paul?
1 Corinthians 4:6
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6But these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollo, for your sakes; that in us you may learn, that one be not puffed up against the other for another, above that which is written.
1 Corinthians 4:6
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6But these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollo, for your sakes; that in us you may learn, that one be not puffed up against the other for another, above that which is written.
1 Corinthians 16:12
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12And touching our brother Apollo, I give you to understand, that I much entreated him to come unto you with the brethren: and indeed it was not his will at all to come at this time. But he will come when he shall have leisure.
Titus 3:13
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13Send forward Zenas, the lawyer, and Apollo, with care, that nothing be wanting to them.

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