Thursday, May 29, 2014

A TEACHABLE SPIRIT (Acts Chapter 18)

Acts 18:26, “And they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

There is an old proverb which says: “He who knows not and knows not he knows not: he is a fool - shun him.  He who knows not and knows he knows not: he is simple - teach him.  He who knows and knows not he knows: he is asleep - wake him.  He who knows and knows he knows: he is wise - follow him.”  From a Biblical perspective the quote needs some amending, “He who knows and is teachable inasmuch as he realizes that there is a lot more that he needs to know: he is the truly wise man – listen to him.”  From a spiritual perspective, no matter how much we know there will always be room to grow (Cf. Ephesians 3:14-19; 4:13).

Apollos was a man who knew much.  He was a “native of Alexandria” who had come to Ephesus (Acts 18:24).  Alexandria was founded by and named after Alexander the Great.  It grew to become a great commercial center where East met West and both Jews and Gentiles resided.  The Alexandrian Museum, a university, was founded in 280 BC and became the first great university in the world.  It was in Alexandria, amidst the influence of the Museum and its library that the Jewish scholars worked to produce the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament).  Apollos was from such a place, a place that was also birthed men like Philo (a great Jewish scholar) and Clement and Origen (early church fathers).

Apollos was “an eloquent man” (Acts 18:24).  The term translated “eloquent” means “learned, a man skilled in literature and the arts…He had stores of ‘learning’ and could use it convincingly” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).  In contrast to the disciples (Cf. Acts 4:13), Apollos had benefited from an education.  He was “competent in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24).  The Greek term translated “competent” means literally “powerful, mighty” (Cf. Acts 7:22 where the same term is used in describing Moses’ words).  “He had been instructed in the way of the Lord” (Acts 18:25).  We are not given the specifics as to what he had been taught or by whom, but he was not at all ignorant regarding that which he taught.  He was “fervent in spirit” (Acts 18:25).  He taught with enthusiasm, his heart was in it.  “He spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:25).  There was no error in Apollos’ teaching.  All that he said was true, but “he knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25).  He was unaware of the baptism Jesus’ had commanded after His resurrection (Cf. Matthew 28:19).  Knowing only “the baptism of John,” he was likely unaware of other pertinent and important post-resurrection truths.

Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos teaching in the synagogue.  They had spent much time with Paul (Cf. Acts 18:1-4, 11) and were as a result very knowledgeable of the truth.  They heard Apollos, he was speaking boldly, but they discerned that something was amiss.  That could have been the end of the story—count the man a heretic and work to steer others away.  But that’s not what they did.  They intervened.  They “took him aside” (Acts 18:16).  They did not rebuke him publicly.  They did not embarrass him by speaking out in that way.  They conferred with him privately “and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26).  He was obviously receptive to what they had to say for they sent a letter ahead to where he was going, instructing “the disciples to welcome him” (Acts 18:27).  “When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed” (Acts 18:27).  He went on to serve and minister in others venues.  Priscilla and Aquila were used of God to help him that he might be better equipped to serve.

Paul shared truth with Priscilla and Aquila who then imparted what they knew to Apollos who then passed on what he had learned to others still (Cf. 2 Timothy 2:2).  It ought to be in the heart of every believer to endeavor to know “the way of God more accurately.”  No one fully knows all that there is to know.  We are ultimately dependent upon the Spirit of God to know at all (Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:12-13), and mutually dependent upon the Spirit and one another to know Jesus better (Cf. Ephesians 4:15-16).  A teachable spirit is prerequisite to the process.

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