Saturday, February 11, 2012
The Discipleship of Apollos
Acts 18:24 ¶ Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures.
Acts 18:25 He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Acts 18:26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately.
Acts 18:27 And when he wished to cross over to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. On his arrival he greatly helped those who through grace had become believers,
Acts 18:28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus.
Apollos was a very educated man who had been trained in a city known for some of the finest education in the world, Alexandria. He had received some rudimentary instruction regarding the Way of Jesus and was so passionate and eloquent that he traveled the world telling others what he knew. One would expect someone like Apollos to be a bit arrogant but yet, we don't get a hint of that from this scripture. Rather, it appears that Priscilla and Aquila take him aside and explain to him that there are things he doesn't know. There is not comment that he rejected this instruction but rather seemed to embrace it and allowed it to inform his ministry. Therefore he humbled himself to gain a further and more clear understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Another moment here is important. Not only was Apollos willing to receive further instruction, but think about the people who offered it to him. Here are mentioned Priscilla and Aquilla, a married couple whose occupation was to be tentmakers. They were not educated at the level of Paul, and certainly not Priscilla, for she was a woman! It is significant that she is even mentioned in this sentence for one would believe that only Aquilla would have done the education but the fact that she is listed leads one to believe that she was also significant in the educating for Apollos.
Apollos was discipled and then he took what he had learned and traveled to another group of people, and began discipling them. He used the gifts that God had given him to publicly preach the Good News, as well as teach and encourage those around him.
Here we find an excellent pattern for discipleship. First of all, there must be a disciple. This is one who may already know things about God, but recognizes that there is yet much more to learn. The attitude of the disciple must be one of humility. We never know who God wants to use to teach us a lesson. What is important is having a teachable spirit and allowing God to send into our paths anyone that he might want to use to help bring us to a deeper place in our walk with him. I am sure that for Apollos the use of a woman in this regard would have been the last thing that he expected. Who does God want to use in our lives today?
Second there must be those who are willing to disciple others. Aquilla and Priscilla went out of their way to go and to find Apollos. They could have just let his teaching go and ignored the problems with it, but no, they put themselves out on a limb and went to Apollos and approached him in a desire to help him. For this to be successful, those doing the discipling must also have a humble attitude. If one comes across as superior, they will never get to disciple others. Rather, as a mentor with wisdom one must be willing to go humbly to those who may need some gentle teaching and guidance and be willing to offer oneself in service to them.
Finally, the one who has been discipled must continue the process and pass it on. Dr. Jerry Porter often asks the question, "Who are you discipling, and who is discipling you?" This is exactly what was happening there in the early church. A network of relationships was being built in regard to discipleship. Everyone was willing to step out and take their place in the chain of the discipling network. The same must be true today. We must have the Pauls, Aquilla and Priscillas, the Apollos' and the folks in Achaia. In this way the process of discipleship continues to be handed down and the faith continues to spread.
What can we learn from the discipleship of Apollos? That we ought to be asking ourselves, "Who are you discipling, and who is discipling you?"
Lord, may I be willing to take my place in the network of discipling relationships so that it continues as you would desire. Amen.