Acts 18:24-19:7

24 Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures.
25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John;
26 and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
27 And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace,
28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

1 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples.
2 He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."
3 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism."
4 Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus."
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
7 There were in all about twelve men. NAU

In this passage (Acts 18:24-19:7) Luke tells us about Apollos and the story of Paul interacting with "some" disciples at Ephesus. The stories about Apollos (Acts 18:24-28) and some disciples found by Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7) are closely connected. Both stories mention the baptism of John, both involve the Holy Spirit, and both include additional teaching. Before we study the stories individually, it will help to understand their main point and to review their historical background.

The Maturation of the Church

The main point of both passages has to do with the maturation of believers and teachers in the church. As the church was planted, people were in all stages of knowledge of the gospel and experience in the Spirit. The church had to grow in both knowledge and experience.

Luke gives us two excellent illustrations of how the church fostered growth. One, Apollos was an evangelist who was powerfully preaching at Ephesus. He was fervent in spirit (or Spirit). His knowledge, however, about the way of God was incomplete. He was acquainted only with the baptism of John. Priscilla and Acquila helped him by explaining the way of God more accurately.

Two, the disciples that Paul found at Ephesus were lacking in knowledge and experience. They had been baptized into John's baptism. In this case Paul baptized the disciple in the name of Jesus, prayed for them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Historical Background

After the Jerusalem Council, Paul and Silas began Paul's second missionary journey (Acts 15:36). Near the end of this trip (Acts 18:18-22), Paul departed from Corinth, taking Aquila and Priscilla with him, and then put out to sea for Syria.

Paul stopped in Ephesus for a brief visit. While there, he entered the synagogue (Acts 18:19) and reasoned with the Jews. They wanted him to stay longer, but he left. Acquila and Priscilla stayed behind. He set sail from Ephesus, landed at Caesarea, and went down to Antioch.

Paul's third missionary journey began (Acts 8:23) with a visit through the "Galatian region and Phrygia." Sometime between Paul's first and second visits to Ephesus, a man named Apollos (Acts 18:24-28) preached there. While Apollos was at Ephesus, Priscilla and Acquila explained the way of God more accurately to him. Then Apollos left Ephesus and went to Achaia.

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul went to Ephesus (Acts 19:1-41). According to Acts 20:31, Paul was in Ephesus for three years (compare Acts 19:8-10). He left from Ephesus to go to Macedonia and Greece. On his return trip Paul (Acts 20:13-36) stopped at Miletus. He was on his way to Jerusalem. He called for the elders of Ephesus and made his farewell comments.

George M. Flattery

© Copyright 2003. GMF.