Acts: Paul and Apollos in Ephesus

Read: Acts 18:23-19:7

As Paul travels to Ephesus, he meets Apollos and other disciples. It appears that Paul invested quite a bit of time into teaching disciples on this trip. A group he finds in Ephesus is particularly interesting because they didn’t even know about the Holy Spirit. Obviously, there were gaps in their education that Paul (and others) found and fixed. There’s no finger-pointing or disparaging words, just a focus on solid teaching to get these new disciples on track and bolster the early church.


Always be teachable. I don’t want to forget that lesson. Apollos, a wise and learned scholar appears on the scene with his approach to teaching the gospel based on his knowledge of the baptism of John.

He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately Acts 18:25

“Great fervor” is probably an indication of his preaching ability, which I believe is a gift from the Spirit. We can all speak with great fervor, even if we aren’t great preachers. Fervency is a mark of passion about a subject, hopefully as a result of knowledge. I say hopefully because far too often we hear repeated sound-bites that makes one appear to be informed on a topic without adequately studying the subject.

Apollos’s fervor appears to come from his confidence in the truth and power of Jesus. Ignited by the Holy Spirit, he was able to effectively teach many. We too can have this level of confidence through the consistent and obedient study of the Bible.

When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. Acts 18:26

Our preeminent example of hospitality and wisdom, Priscilla and Aquila, invited Apollos into their home and filled in the gaps of his knowledge about Jesus. From Luke’s account, it seems Apollos was a great student, eager to learn, and gifted to teach.

For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. Acts 18:28

Apollos grew to be a prominent teacher in the region. Later, in 1 Corinthians 1:10-12, we’ll read his name in comparison to Paul, though there is no reason to conclude that Apollos was trying to compete. Both Apollos and Paul were in ministry to win souls for Christ, not to boost their egos!


As we begin chapter 19, we find Apollos in Corinth and Paul in Ephesus. When Paul arrives he finds a small group of disciples, about twelve men, who appear to have incomplete information about being a Christ follower. I’m not sure what prompted Paul to ask, no details are provided, but he asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit. Their response is interesting:

No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. Acts 19:2

Paul completed their education on the spot and laid hands on them!

When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:6

In both cases, the lack of knowledge is not criticized. Instead, those who knew more taught those who needed help. Both teaching and learning are received well. There is much to learn from this behavior as we grow in our knowledge of Jesus’s call in our lives. There’s no need to criticize others when we see gaps. Instead, let’s focus on imparting knowledge we have gained while being teachable at the same time.


Since we’re starting Paul’s third, and last official missionary journey, it’s time to look at a map that shows the extent of his travels.


Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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