One with a through knowledge of the Scriptures
I will present a Bible nonsense quiz with 7 questions that I found on the internet. The person who laughs the most may have a prize (Internet): (1) Among the biblical figures, who cannot do arithmetic? (Moses) (I don't know what to count), (2) Among the biblical figures, who receives a perfect score of 100 if they take a test? (Miriam) (Because she does it in advance), (3) Among the biblical figures, who always wants someone to look at them? (Barabbas), (4) Among the biblical figures, who is the best at business? (Sarah), (5) Among the biblical figures, who is the worst at business? (Zechariah), (6) Among the biblical figures, who has the most beggarly mentality? (Magdalene Mary), (7) Among the biblical figures, who has the sharpest ears? You have to keep secrets well in front of this person (You'll hear it). There was a pastor who really liked beef soup. This pastor and a young woman were having a conversation about the Bible. After finishing her Bible study, the young woman asked the pastor if she could treat him to a meal (Internet):
Sister: Pastor, what kind of food do you like?
Pastor: I want to eat beef soup.
Sister: I can't eat beef soup.
Pastor: God told us to eat beef soup because it's good for our bodies.
Sister: Pastor, I read the Bible ten times, and this is the first time
I've heard that beef soup is good.
Pastor's response: "And God saw that it was good" (Gen. 1:10).
There is a "Hand Pictograph" that gives brief but important teachings on how to walk with God's word. In this hand pictograph, it explains how to internalize God's word in the heart through the hands. The five fingers represent the fundamental methods: listening, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditation, which helps apply the teachings of the Bible to daily life. Meditation, representing the thumb, involves walking with God's word in a way that is practical in daily life.
- Listening: How will you listen to the Word of God?
One issue with listening is that while a preacher can speak about 125 words per minute, our minds have the capacity to hear over 1,000 words per minute. Consequently, about 90% of the mental energy focused on listening remains unused. Therefore, simply listening is not enough, and a good way to overcome this is to take notes.
- Reading: Guidelines for effective and enjoyable Bible reading.
Reading the Bible and studying it require different approaches. The goal of reading the Bible is to find joy and gain new strength, while Bible study aims to increase certainty and provide specific application. Setting a goal to read the entire Bible in a year is a good approach.
- Study: Personal exploration.
The key to effective Bible study. When studying the Bible, one should analyze the given passage with a prayerful mindset to find answers to three questions: First, what is the content of this passage? Second, what is the meaning of this passage? Third, how will I apply this passage to my life? These three questions can be summarized as observation, interpretation, and application.
- Memorization: Memorizing the Bible transforms your life.
God's Word can transform our lives, and one of the most effective things a Christian can do is to fill their heart with God's Word through memorization.
- Meditation: Practical methods for scriptural meditation.
While there are four basic ways to consume the Word—listening, reading, studying, and memorizing—if these methods are not connected to meditation, holding onto God's Word firmly is not possible. The reason for meditation is to know who God is through it. Meditation involves reviewing, analyzing, and transforming the words into thoughts and thoughts into actions. When meditating on God's Word, start with prayer, wait with an expectant heart, and pay attention. The crucial thing is not only to consume but also to digest what is consumed (Internet).
In today's passage, Acts 18:24-28, we encounter a man named Apollos, described as someone proficient in the Scriptures. After the Apostle Paul said his farewell to the Ephesian believers, stating, "If it is God's will, I will return to you" (v. 21), Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria, Egypt, known as a prominent city of learning and with a considerable Jewish population, arrives in Ephesus (v. 24). In a sense, Apollos can be considered the successor to Paul in the Ephesian church. The author, likely Luke, introduces Apollos in verse 24, stating, "He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures." The term translated as "learned" in Greek is "logios," which can be interpreted in two ways: first, as "an eloquent speaker," and second, as "learned" or "scholarly." Apollos was not only knowledgeable but also an eloquent orator. Perhaps Apollos was even more skilled in rhetoric than Paul, as some Corinthian church members criticized Paul's speaking abilities (2 Cor. 10:10). The absence of such criticism against Apollos in today's passage suggests that he was exceptionally gifted in oratory. Additionally, considering the followers of Apollos mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:12 and 3:4, we can infer that he was highly effective in his communication skills. In verse 24, Apollos is described as being "competent in the Scriptures," indicating his scholarly activities. This statement provides us with three insights into Apollos's scholarly pursuits (Yoo):
First, Apollos was a learner in the way of the Lord.
Look at Acts 18:25 - "He had been instructed in the way of the Lord ...." This phrase indicates that Apollos received systematic and thorough education in the way of the Lord. Here, the "way of the Lord" refers to the content concerning the suffering and resurrection of Christ prophesied in the Old Testament (Lk. 24:19, 27, 44; Acts 13:29). In other words, Apollos underwent thorough training to understand the Old Testament through the lens of Christ. As a result, he could accurately teach about the Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ. Of course, he was still unaware that Christ was Jesus of Nazareth.
Second, Apollos taught the Scriptures with fervent passion.
Look at Acts 18:25 - "He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately ...." Here, the word translated as "fervor" in Greek is "zeo," which means "to boil with heat" or "to be fervent." This term suggests that Apollos's passion in teaching the Scriptures was ignited by the Holy Spirit. When Apollos taught about the prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament, he could do so accurately and passionately because the Spirit of God was within him (Yoo).
Third, Apollos' accurate teaching had temporal limitations.
In other words, his excellent knowledge of the Scriptures was limited to knowing only the baptism of John. Look at Acts 18:25 - "He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John." However, this doesn't mean that Apollos was completely unaware of Jesus. In verse 25, it states that Apollos spoke and taught about Jesus in detail. He had an accurate understanding of the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament but did not know that the prophesied Messiah was Jesus. In essence, Apollos lacked an understanding of the core of the gospel. Recognizing this deficiency in Apollos' teaching, Aquila and Priscilla invited him to their home and explained to him the gospel about Jesus that they knew. Look at Acts 18:26 - "He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately." With the help of Aquila and Priscilla, Apollos gained a more thorough understanding of Jesus as the Christ and his ministry. Now, free from any limitations or deficiencies, he left Ephesus and went to the province of Achaia, probably to the capital city Corinth. Through the grace of God, he provided much help to those who believed (v. 27). He vigorously refuted the Jews in public, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ (v. 28). Apollos was a person equipped with the ability to interpret and present the Old Testament Scriptures perfectly in light of Jesus Christ. Therefore, he had no reason to lose in debates with the Jews (Yoo).
Indeed, how can we become individuals proficient in the Scriptures like Apollos?
- We need to have in-depth knowledge of the Scriptures.
To achieve this, like Apollos, we must continually and systematically learn the Scriptures. In other words, we need thorough biblical education. Superficially studying the Bible will not make us proficient in it. We should strive to become knowledgeable Christians in matters related to the Bible, just like Apollos. It is necessary to read and study both the Old and New Testaments. Additionally, beyond the Bible itself, we should read books on biblical doctrines. Doctrinal studies are crucial. However, we acknowledge that there is a lack of systematic doctrinal study in our church education.
- We need to pray to God.
In other words, we should seek not only to understand God's Word but also to ask God for the ability to communicate effectively, just as Apollos did. Looking at scholars or professors who have profound knowledge of the Scriptures, sometimes we notice a lack of communication skills when they pass on their knowledge to students. Therefore, like Apollos, we need to pray for the ability to communicate effectively.
- We need an unceasing passion for the Lord's Word.
In other words, our fervor for learning the Lord's Word should not end with gaining knowledge but extend to passionately proclaiming and teaching it. It's like military training, where practicing shooting is essential, but the real understanding comes from using the gun in actual combat. In other words, practical experience is crucial. Our passion should not only end with thorough biblical education but also extend to an ardent desire to obey His Word in our daily lives. Thus, we pray that, like Apollos mentioned in today's passage, we may all become proficient in the Scriptures.
With the desire to become individuals proficient in the Scriptures,
(Wishing you a deeper and richer experience in the joy of meditating on God's Word)