The Alexandrian saint named Apollos is a great friend to every Christian. In Acts 18:24-28 we read about his powerful, Bible-based preaching, by which he refuted Jews who were claiming that Jesus was not the Christ. We should emulate his development of skills in apologetics.
Before Apollos could preach both eloquently and rightly, however, he had to have explained to him “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Apollos had known only the baptism of John and was preaching that baptism. Thankfully, two faithful Christian tentmakers named Aquila and Priscilla taught Apollos about Christ’s baptism, and from then on Apollos faithfully preached baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Acts 18:27-28).
In more recent times Dr. C.C. Crawford wrote a sermon about Apollos in which he made basically the following points:1
- Despite Apollos’ eloquence, knowledge of the Bible, desire to do what was right, and work ethic, he was in error. Anyone living in the Christian era who was still teaching John’s out-of-date baptism was in error. Notice that is possible for someone to be sincere, and yet be sincerely mistaken (Romans 10:2). Many of our friends and neighbors are in this position.
- Aquila and Priscilla had a duty to correct Apollos’ error. We have a duty to the lost and the saved to correct erroneous teaching where we may (see 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12). What a tragedy if someone is lost because we fail to help him come to a knowledge of the truth!
- Apollos had a responsibility to study, accept, and teach the truth. He could not go on teaching error after he had been exposed to the truth. We must be careful to learn accurately and teach the truth that God has revealed to us (see 1 Timothy 4:1-10).
Now, following Dr. Crawford’s outline, consider some things that Apollos might have said, if he shared the attitude of some in the religious world today. For example, what if Apollos had said, “It doesn’t make any difference what you teach about baptism, so long as you are sincere”? Would that have been alright? Or, what if Apollos had said, “Each individual’s conscience can lead him to take whatever position he wants on baptism, and God will be pleased”? Or, “Aquila and Priscilla, you have no right to be so narrow-minded as to prefer your baptism over mine”? Of course, these statements would have shown that Apollos’ heart was not right. Dr. Crawford has provided a sad but telling commentary on the atmosphere of religion in our times.
Sermon Outlines on the Restoration Plea (Murfreesboro: DeHoff, 1956), 120-124. ↩