"Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 18:24-28).
Here we are introduced to a Jewish man by the name of Apollos. Apollos was known for his ability as a speaker and his knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures (including prophecies about the coming Messiah). When he came to Ephesus, he was very zealous and active publicly as a teacher in the synagogue. Although he was a bold speaker and great man, there was one problem--"he knew only the baptism of John." In other words, although he was quite knowledgeable about everything up to and including John the baptizer's ministry, he lacked specific knowledge about Jesus the Christ, the One whom John prepared the way for! Because he was ignorant of the fact that the Messiah had indeed come, died, and atoned for the sins of the world, some of the things Apollos taught were outdated (and thus incorrect, particularly regarding John's baptism). Apollos' great speaking ability and confidence, coupled with his ignorance of certain matters pertaining to Jesus, created a sensitive situation that needed to be addressed. What should one do with a great teacher who is passionately teaching what he believes to be true but is misinformed about certain matters?
Aquila and Priscilla, a fine Christian couple whom Paul had worked with as a tentmaker in Corinth, were also in Ephesus at this time (Paul had left them there and would return to Ephesus soon, as Acts 19 details). Aquila and Priscilla knew just how to handle Apollos. After hearing him speak, "they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately." This godly couple, who had fuller knowledge of God's redemptive plan after John's ministry, did not publicly rebuke or embarrass Apollos. They privately explained to him about the One John had prepared the world for, Jesus the Christ, and regarding Jesus' kingdom (the church) and what must be believed and obeyed in order to be added to it. Apollos was not a false teacher, per se, though his lack of complete knowledge needed to be corrected. Aquilla and Priscilla should be commended for their excellent handling of this talented man. It would have been easier to ignore or disparage one whose knowledge was incomplete instead of investing the time privately to help him. Additionally, Apollos should be commended for having a spirit of meekness that was open to correction and further education. There are few things worse than one who believes himself to be educated who is close-minded to learning new things. But this does not describe Apollos. He was willing to humbly learn and be corrected. All three of these disciples (Apollos, Aquilla, and Priscilla) are worthy of our emulation!
After being more fully instructed in the way of truth, Apollos continued teaching boldly. Now he had fuller knowledge to go along with his zeal, which is a splendid combination for any speaker (to lack either is most unfortunate). In time, he desired to travel to Corinth (cf. I Cor. 3:6), and the brethren in Ephesus wrote a letter on his behalf, exhorting the Christians to receive him. In Corinth we know he was a great asset to the Lord's church. "He vigorously refuted the [unbelieving] Jews publicly, showing from the [Old Testament] Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ."
As a side note, it should be observed that although women are not permitted to teach God's word to men publicly (cf. I Tim. 2:11,12), women are permitted to teach other women and children (cf. Titus 2:3-5). Furthermore, Priscilla's example here shows us that it is acceptable for a man and woman to privately work together to teach another soul. We have no information about the specific role Priscilla played in this study, but we know she was there and involved. Her involvement in this private setting is appropriate, though it would not have been proper for her to get up and publicly address Apollos' misunderstandings (cf. our archived lesson from 01/16/10 ).
Also, there is no evidence that Apollos was rebaptized on this occasion. If he was immersed during the era wherein John's baptism was still valid, there would have been no need for him to be immersed again. We will have more to say on the topic of rebaptism in Acts 19.