In a recent conversation with a good friend of mine regarding Acts 18, specifically the exchange Apollos has with Priscilla and Aquilla, I asked him if he would write a short post that I could include on this blog. He graciously agreed. My friend serves as a missionary overseas and because of where he serves I’ll not include his name for security reasons.
Acts 18 describes the incredible story of growth of the church in Ephesus, filled with Paul’s inspired preaching, incredible miracles, and ministry that radiates out across Asia Minor. Tucked into the end of Acts 18, however, is story of how the humility of one man saved this young church plant from disaster when it had first began.
Apollos comes to Ephesus at just the right time, a fledgling church in need of leadership. We get quite an introduction to him, just listen to his resume in v. 24-25:
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
What a leader! Eloquent, competent in the scriptures, fervent in Spirit, and verse 26 says that he was bold as well. There is just one problem, “he knew only the baptism of John.” This either means he was untaught on Jesus’ post-resurrection instruction to baptize new believers in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, or that he was unaware of the baptism and filling of the Spirit that began on the day of Pentecost and would be essential for understanding the Christian life.
Either way, Apollos needs correction and instruction, so in step Priscilla and Aquila.
26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
What godly church members! They are not full-time Christian workers, but they’ve developed themselves theologically enough to recognize error, and they are tactful enough to not embarrass him but to pull him aside privately.
Let’s stop and ask ourselves a question, “How would we guess a gifted, golden-tongued and bold preacher who is experiencing ministry success would respond to correction from others?” Apollos takes the correction, learns and grows, and continues with a powerful and effective ministry of preaching and evangelism. But what if it hadn’t gone that way? What if he had told Priscilla and Aquila to get lost?
Here’s a proverb for us to think about: Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. Pro 12:1
It is actually quite rare in our lives to have a Priscilla and Aquila pull us aside for correction. When it happens, when a brother or sister wants to point something out to you—don’t be defensive. The absolute worst case scenario is that they are completely wrong, and even then you get to sit back encouraged that they cared enough about you to say something. Plus you get a chance to check your heart for pride. Usually, however there’s at least some truth in what others say! Even if it’s only 10% right, let go of your pride and focus on that.
What if the growth and health of your church depends on your humility?