Evangelist Apollos built a reputation as a dynamic speaker who generated a large number of followers. His knowledge of the Scriptures was unchallenged. (Acts 18:24,25) His enthusiasm and fervent zeal for the Word of God produced disciples from Ephesus to Corinth. He was so idealized in Corinth that people began to promote his ministry above those of Paul, Peter, and even Christ. (I Corinthians 1:12) The attachment to the messenger was a serious problem in the expansion of the early Church. Sadly, the thread of human attachment to the messenger has continued through the generations. The elevation of “spiritual” leadership to a role of sainthood has hindered the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote a stern letter to the Corinthians to stop elevating individuals above the message. He called such seekers carnal, who need to understand that the messengers are just relaying what God has directed them to say. He pointed out that he may have planted the Word and Apollos watered the Word, but it was God who gave the increase (I Corinthians 3: 5,6)
Apollos had received teachings from his “denominational” headquarters and presented accurately the truth that was taught him. The problem was the teachings he received had not gone far enough. He was taught Old Testament 101 and Repentance 202 up through John the Baptist’s ministry. (Acts 18:25) Today, many denominational and independent churches center on only certain aspects of Biblical truths.
One day, Apollos was speaking at the local Synagogue in Ephesus. The people eagerly listened as this charismatic speaker shared the Gospel message. In the crowd that day was a husband and wife evangelistic team that had accompanied Paul on a number of his crusades. After the meeting, Aquila and Priscilla met with Apollos to help him fine-tune his message. (Acts 18:26) Encouraged by what they shared, he decided to take his ministry to Corinth. There he encouraged those who already believed, as well as confounded the Jews by showing that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts 18:27,28) Much of teaching today is limited to the basics. We preach and teach repentance and the accepting of Jesus as Savior, but we fail to present the Holy Spirit and Jesus as Lord. The result is we have “baby” Christians that never mature. There seems to be contentment in our spiritual lives, rather then a questing for spiritual growth. Apollos persuaded many Jews to accept that Jesus was the Christ, but there seemed to be no follow up. He knew only the “baptism of John.” (Acts 18:25) But by the actions of Aquila and Priscilla, he was able to share the complete Gospel. I believe one of the greatest mission fields today is the Church. Believers need to reach out to the unsaved, while at the same time encouraging each other to quest for the Kingdom. Repentance and acceptance of the Savior, followed by the empowering of the Holy Spirit and service should be the journey every person should take. Let our churches move from being nurseries to places of higher learning.
In our journey in the Kingdom, let us never lose sight of our goals; for when we do, we will follow our own agendas instead of God’s. Apollos let success go to his head and as a result pursued his own desires. Paul wanted him to return to Corinth to help with the church, but he was “unwilling” to do so. He would come at a “convenient” time, in other words, when he was ready. (I Corinthians 16:12) I urge all spiritual leaders to never let success go to their head. It is not their ministry, but God’s ministry. It is not their timing, but God’s timing. It is not their way, but God’s way. It is not listening to people, but listening to God. It is not justifying their ministry by numbers, but by seeing changed lives. It is not about them, but all about Him!