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The Book of Acts, lessons, commentary and study guide from the church of Christ


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Bobby Stafford A Preacher is Converted
Acts Lesson 39, Acts 18:18-28

The Book of Acts

A Preacher Is Converted


Toward the end of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey, he leaves Corinth, where several had been converted to Christ, and heads to Ephesus along with Aquila and Priscilla.  (Acts 18:18-23) “So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them, saying, ‘I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing,’ And he sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch. After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.” NKJV  Paul goes on to Antioch, but leaves Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus, where they meet a “certain Jew named Apollos.”

Text: Acts 18:24-28


I.       Apollos Possessed Excellent Qualities    Acts 18:24-25a “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,” NKJV

A. “Eloquent man” – literally “man of words” Apollos knew how to use words to convict others; he had the ability to persuade. This art of speaking was an important study in the school of Alexandria from where he came. Alexandria was a city on the northern coast of Egypt and the site of a famous library. What is so wonderful about this is that he used this talent in God’s service!

B. “Mighty in the Scriptures” – strong in the Scriptures of the Old Testament – well versed in God’s Word – instructed in the “way of the Lord, things of the Lord” Apollos gave the sense to the Scripture and showed how things were connected. He knew Old Testament Scriptures well, even that which dealt with the Messiah.                      [Apollos knew only the teaching of John the Baptist].

C. “Fervent in spirit – spoke boldly” He preached with strong convictions and feelings. He was “on fire,” extremely zealous to tell others what he knew. All of the above are truly wonderful and admirable qualities! 

II.  Apollos Possessed Limited Understanding  Acts 18:25b “though he knew only the baptism of John.” NKJV  “Knew only the immersion of John” Apparently he knew only what John taught. John was beheaded before Jesus promised to build His church. (Matthew 16) This was a considerable time before Jesus died on the cross, was raised from the dead, gave the Great Commission, or ascended back to heaven. So Apollos had not learned of these great things. John had also preached about the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3) and knew not about that fulfillment on Pentecost when the church was established. So Apollos knew nothing of these things either. He was no doubt still preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 

III.         Apollos Possessed the Blessing of Having Those Who Cared

Acts 18:26 “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.” NKJV

One day Aquila and Priscilla are in the synagogue [recall they are Christian friends of Paul who stayed in Ephesus while he went on to Antioch] and a man named Apollos begins to speak about the Way of God – as far as he knew it, anyway. It must have become apparent that he knew nothing of “Christian” baptism and that his knowledge of Jesus was incomplete. So they took him aside and taught him more accurately. Several things are of importance here:

1. They did not wait for Paul or some other apostle or noted preacher, but realized they had a responsibility to correct the error themselves. They knew how serious it was. (James 5:19-20) “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” NKJV

2. They understood, knew, the gospel well enough to recognize error.

3. They knew “being sincere” wasn’t enough.                                 

(Romans 10:1-3) “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” NKJV

4. They recognized that Apollos was not a deceptive false teacher; just someone who needed more knowledge of the Way of God. Because of this, they treated him much more gently than they would have a false teacher. (II John 9-11) “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” NKJV 

IV.         Apollos Possessed An Open Mind Acts 18:27-28 “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 refused the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.” NKJV   The brethren there in Ephesus wrote to the Christians at Corinth (Acts 19:1) to receive Apollos. They could trust his teaching. It’s obvious then that he readily accepted instruction of Aquila and Priscilla. Would we have? Here we have a well-learned and eloquent speaker from the city of Alexandria, a great educational center with the largest library in the world. After his sermon, a man and woman come up to him and have the nerve to tell him his sermon was filled with error! He could have reacted very differently than he did. He could have puffed up and said, “How dare you, tell me, that I need instructing!” That’s not what happened. Even though he was well-educated, he didn’t believe that he knew everything. He had an open mind and was willing to listen. This man loved the truth and knew it, and it alone, could set him free. His big heart was willing to admit that he was wrong. He was humble.

If someone cared enough for you to show you the way of the Lord more accurately, would you react like Apollos? Or would you be like those in II Thessalonians 2:10? “and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” NKJV     Would we admit we were wrong or would our pride interfere? Apollos is a great example to us of how we all should be! 


Apollos “helped those who had believed through grace.” More accurately they believed “the grace.”  (Acts 20:32) “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” NKJV    “The word of His grace” The gospel is God’s power to save. The same gospel that Apollos obeyed is also the one that some at Corinth obeyed. We can be saved just as they were.

1. We must also believe that “Jesus is the Christ.”

2. This faith in the Risen Savior causes us to submit to Christ as our new Lord, to turn away from past sins.

3. We then publicly confess our new allegiance.

4. Finally we are buried in water for the remission of sins and raised to walk a new life.

If this is not what you had thought one needed to do to be saved, but now understand that it is, why not be like Apollos and obey your Lord? 

Bobby Stafford                                                                                                     

May 29, 2016                                                                                                            

Acts: Lesson 39 Acts 18:18-28

 More Studies on Acts


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