Apollos the Evangelist (Part 1)

We live in an age where migration and emigration of people is common. It’s not just people seeking asylum that are found moving from country to country or continent to continent. The late Bishop Peter Kalangula from Northern Namibia used to tell of how Bushmen would move from place to place, spending a few months at a time in each place. He shared Jesus with them and many were saved. He would catechize them week by week and after a few months they would move on to another area only to suddenly appear again. He would baptize them and then confirm them and soon they were off again. The group would assemble for church for a few months and suddenly without notification. They are nomadic … they migrate from place to place. Others again emigrate, either for short periods (a few years) or permanently. Some people do short spells overseas working, others for permanent employment, for health reasons, to be with family and because of crime in their country.

There is nothing new about people migrating or emigrating. Abraham did and in the Book of Acts we come across many people moving willingly or unwilling from country to country. Take Apollos, an African by birth. I would like to consider him for a while.

Ac 18:24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. 27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

As the Gospel Message of the Lord Jesus progressed under Paul and his missionary team … the Gospel was taking root elsewhere too. One such Evangelist was Apollos …

1) An overview of Apollos. Once “suitably discipled and taught, he was not just an evangelist, he became a Christian Apologist, Church Leader and a good friend and colleague of the apostle Paul. When people become Christian, they might have one passage they desire to pursue for Jesus, but once matured and better equipped they see other avenues of service and ministry open to them. Never shut the door on what God would have you do for the Gospel. How many little boys wanted to be a train driver or a fireman? How many of them did? The same is true when we are infants in Jesus, yet after a season or two God impresses His will for our life or career upon us that might be totally different to our initial desire or expectation. Be open to change. Doing what God wants is the safest place to be in.

2) He was a Native of Alexandria. The city was the third largest city in Egypt and the seventh largest in Africa. She was an economic hub with a population of 5,381,000. Alexandria was the largest city on the Mediterranean and known by locals as the “Bride of the Mediterranean”. Legend says Mark the Evangelist took the Gospel to Alexandria by we just don’t know. Where Apollos heard the Gospel we don’t know but it seems he was an educated man. We know nothing of his parents. They might have been Arab … but he was an African. It is difficult to say that he migrated … as he moved around Europe with the Gospel. He might have emigrated, never to return to Alexandria again. It does not matter where you originate from. Maybe like Apollos who moved to Ephesus and then onto Achaia on Gospel business, God might want you to move around for the Cause of Jesus. You might need to leave family and friends and things dear to you but the Gospel calls for sacrifice. Are you willing to be sacrificial for the King?

3) He was an educated man. He was a learned man. The word “learned” could mean two things or both at the same time.

(a) A man of letters … skilled in literature and the arts … especially in history and antiquities.

(b) A man skilled in speech. An eloquent man. Considering verses 24 – 28 I would suggest he was both.

Anyone may be used for the Gospel as an evangelist, but to reach the caliber of Apollos, one needs to be fully educated in the Scriptures. In our day this would include a working knowledge of the original Hebrew and Greeks languages used in the original Scriptures. Further, although he was instructed Christianity, he needed further training from Priscilla and Aquila. As a Jew, knowing the Old Testament and all its Messianic Prophecies, now knowing the Gospel and all the Messianic Promises fulfilled, he could have been one of the first Christian Apologists. Like he “vigorously refuted” the Jews in public debate, proving Jesus was the Messiah, using the Old Testament as his text, so we need such men and women today who are able debate with other religions and Christians sects that Jesus Is the Messiah (Christ).

4) He was a man of passion. “He spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately” … and … “He began to speak boldly in the synagogue” … and … “he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” These three phases remind us that when a person knows the Scriptures well and believes not only the Scripture but the Person the Gospel is all about … Jesus Christ … then when they preach, debate or expound, they do so with passion. Such a person believes what he speaks and God uses that to persuade, convince and draw souls into His Kingdom. Are you a person who truly believes in the Godman Jesus Christ? Are you thoroughly persuaded that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no man comes to the Father unless they come through Him?

Thank You Lord for calling Apollos and raising him up to be a great servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord, You have work for each one of us to do for the Gospel. Help us to identify these. Amen.

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