Apollos who was a great help






[Acts 18:27]




The Reverend Kwang-bok Lee, as reported in the Gospel Newspaper of North America, wrote the following under the title ‘Pastors and Saints’: ‘According to the results of experiments by animal researchers, mice give up running away just by hearing the sound of a cat.  Even though they could escape by just stepping aside, they tremble in fear at the sound of a cat.  This relationship is precisely a predator-prey relationship. ...  Sheep are the same.  As soon as the predator appears, they give up running away, surrendering everything, even their lives, to the predator.  That's why sheep cannot survive alone.  They need someone to be with them." In this context, "sheep" refer to saints, but who is the "predator"?  It is the false prophets.  Reading this article, I realized that sheep need someone to be with them.  Sheep cannot survive without someone helping them.  When thinking about the church, this can also be applied to saints—without pastors' help, they cannot survive.  In other words, considering Acts 18:27, I reflect on the lesson that, looking at myself, I should be a "pastor who is a great help" to our church members.


Focusing on Acts 18:27, under the title "Apollos who was a great help," I will meditate on five aspects of how Apollos, who was great help, was.  I hope to proclaim how I, as a pastor, can become a person who is a great help to our church members, and I encourage you to contemplate how you, as members, can be a great help to each other in the church.


First, Apollos was competent in the Scriptures.


Look at Acts 18:24 - "Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures."  Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria, emerges in Ephesus.  He came from Alexandria, a city in the Roman Empire known for being a major center of education and philosophy.  According to some scholars, the pride of Alexandria at that time was its university library with seventy thousand books.  Apollos was a man of great learning and was skilled in the Scriptures.  The phrase "competent in the Scriptures" implies two meanings: being articulate and possessing scholarly knowledge.  Moreover, he was "competent in the Scriptures," signifying not only a deep understanding of the Scriptures but also the ability to effectively use them to thwart the snares of the devil (Calvin).  This brings to mind 2 Timothy 2:15: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."


Second, Apollos was fervent.


Look at Acts 18:25 - "He had been instructed in the way of the Lord.  And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John."  Apollos was already in a state of systematic instruction in the way of the Lord.  In other words, he had a thorough understanding of the prophecies about Christ's suffering and resurrection in the Old Testament.  Therefore, he could teach accurately about the Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ.  Furthermore, Apollos had fervor in his teaching.  The adverb "fervently" in the original Greek text translates to "burning with zeal."  Calvin remarked, "He (Apollos) burned with holy zeal to teach.  Doctrine without zeal is like a sword in the hands of a madman, either unused, still cold, or used in vain boasting.  We see learned people become lazy.  Others become more ambitious.  And the worst thing is that quarrels and disputes make the church difficult.  Therefore, doctrine without zeal is not attractive."  This reminds us of Romans 10:2: "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge."


Third, Apollos was bold.


Look at Acts 18:26a: "He began to speak boldly in the synagogue." Apollos boldly proclaimed the way of the Lord in the synagogue in Ephesus. Apollos' boldness was based on the Old Testament Scriptures. If a person has faith and assurance in believing God's Word, they can be bold. If Apollos had been passionate but lacked competence in the Scriptures, his boldness could have been emotionally driven and would likely have dissipated. However, because his boldness was grounded in God's Word and accompanied by passion, he could boldly proclaim the message. This brings to mind Acts 4:31: "And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness."


Fourth, Apollos had a learning attitude.


Look at Acts 18:26b - "... When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately."  Although Apollos was skilled in the Scriptures, he only knew the baptism of John.  Priscilla and Aquila, recognizing the deficiency in his teaching, invited him to their home and explained the way of God more accurately.  The lesson we learn here is Apollos' humble attitude, a willingness to learn.  Even though he was a highly educated scholar, he accepted correction from ordinary believers.  The willingness to hear and receive correction is not an easy task, especially for someone as learned as Apollos.

A saint who is a great help to others is one with a humble and teachable spirit.  Apollos demonstrates that a learner's attitude is crucial.  Proverbs 1:5 says, "Let the wise hear and increase in learning."


Fifth and last, Apollos was a person who understood grace.


Look at Acts 18:27 - "And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him.  When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed."  Apollos, after learning the way of God through Priscilla and Aquila (v. 26), came to prioritize grace over knowledge.  Having a clear understanding that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament (v. 26), Apollos recognized the precedence of grace.  Now, he, through grace, became a source of great benefit to those who believed.  Knowledge can lead to pride, but the love of Jesus Christ humbles us. This brings to mind 1 Corinthians 8:1-3: "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God."


A pastor who is a great help to others is knowledgeable in the Scriptures.  Additionally, he possesses zeal and a teachable spirit.  He is bold, understanding the grace of God.  I aspire to be such a beneficial pastor to the congregation.







Desiring to be a pastor who is a great help to the saints,





James Kim

(Seeking to be knowledgeable in God's grace through the Bible)