Acts 18 Part 3–Apollos Joins The Scene

While Paul was continuing His mission, God brought another evangelist and scholar on to the scene.  Apollos was a Jewish Scholar from Alexandrea.  He knew scripture and was bold in his defense of the Gospel.  He met up with Aquilla and Pricilla and they taught him what they learned from Paul.  

As the scripture seems to indicate he must have really made a difference.  He was compared to Paul and Peter as a prominent leader in Christianity in his day.  I Corinthians 1:12 says, “What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”

Apollos grew in prominence in the region and was most likely highly instrumental in the growth of the church in Corinth Where Aquilla and Pricilla were from.  Apollos is not mentioned much in Acts, but His impact was felt.  And, as with most front line leaders, the enemy wanted to use Apollos to divide the church rather than to grow it.

It is significant for us to remember God continues to raise Godly leaders to complete His plan.  It is critical for us to remember that we follow Christ not those leaders.  When we focus on leaders, even great ones, it takes our focus from the Lord.  When we seek the Lord first, He provides the people to teach and encourage us on the journey.  We need to remain grateful for our pastors and teachers and lift them up.  Since they are in the battle, you can be assured that they face regular attacks from the enemy.

God Bless You

 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[a] 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 and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.

Acts 18 Part 2–Living the Great Commission

Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half.  It was a time of growth for the church.  It was not without trial.  Paul was arrested and brought before authorities but as God promised He was protected.  He did not even have to say a word.  Then it became time to go, and Paul took Aquilla and Pricilla with Him.  They ministered together and then He left them at Ephesus.  He went back to Antioch and other churches to build the faith and the churches. 

Paul was always a man on mission.  It never mattered where he was, that place was where he was called to minister. It is the same with us.  Sometimes God calls us to minister in a certain place, and other times he simply says as you are going make disciples.  The Great Commission prompts us to always be ready to make a difference. Jesus’ parting charge was, “All authority has been given to me, now go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teaching them all that I have commanded you and know that I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

That is what Paul was doing, and that is what we are also called to do.  Whether in one spot or across the globe, we must be ready to give an account of what we believe and ready to do our part to make disciples.

God Bless You

11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews[b] made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.

Paul Returns to Antioch

18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers[c] and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. 19 And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. 21 But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus.

22 When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. 23 After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

Acts 18 Part 1–Time to Settle In

Paul and the gang had moved from city to city.  He preached to the Jewish people first and then to the gentiles.  The experience saw many saved, but Paul had been pushed out of each community.  Then as Paul reached Corinth, He met up with Aquilla and Pricilla.  the team were tent makers and lovers of God.  They worked together and began to make a difference in Corinth.  Paul had received continued resistance by the Jewish leaders and was ready to make his exit.  But God had a different plan.  It was God’s plan that Paul stops and build the church in Corinth.  He wanted Paul to build a church to act as a hinge post.

Paul stayed in Corinth for 18 months.  In that time, He helped to build a thriving and exciting church.  In Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, it is apparent that he loved the church and saw them as His spiritual kids.  He gave them great teaching on living a life worthy of the Gospel.  We learn of Love, stewardship, gifting, and being new creations in the Lord.  We learn that we must not follow men, but God.  We frown on division and praise ambassadorship.  Paul’s work in Corinth was a great time of development for him, the team, and the church.  I am so glad that God had Paul settle down.

God Bless You

After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

Acts 17 Part 2–God Created Man in His Image…

As the missionary journey continued, God was blessing the team with amazing success.  As is always the case, with that success came spiritual attacks.  So, Timothy and Silas put Paul on a boat to Greece and Paul landed in Athens.  While he was taking in the city, He made an amazing discovery.  These people who did nothing but sit around and search for meaning and purpose missed the one true source of both.  

Paul addressed the philosophers and noted that these people had fashioned gods for every thought or situation.  They had a God for every possible scenario. They even had a place for the unknown God.   Paul went on to explain that they could know the unknown God, and that would in-fact change their lives.  Some laughed at him, some simply pondered the notion as thinkers do, but there were some whose lives were changed.  

My old preacher used to say, God created man in His image, and men have been trying to return the favor ever since.  Paul was talking to a group of folks that had been trying to return the favor.  They wanted to make gods that fit their plan rather than follow the true Adonai and allow His plan to unfold and shape their lives.  Nothing has changed.

In our culture, we shape for ourselves gods that bring success, power, gratification, or any other self-perceived need we think we have.  Since we are the designer of our gods, they have no real value–yet, we worship them with an intensity that would transform anyone that directed the energy in serving the one true God.  Paul told these mighty philosophers and now tells us, “Use the wasted energy you expend upon your idols to seek the one true God; and get to know this ‘unknown’ God in your life.”  

If we would seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all the other things we want, and need will be added to us.(Matt 6:33).  That was a promise from the Lord then and remains so now.  God is a gentleman, though. He will not force that upon us, we must follow willingly.  But, if we will, He will meet our needs, fill our spirit, and prepare us for an eternity with Him in Glory.  I think it well worth the effort to trust and follow the Lord!

God Bless You

14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.

Paul in Athens

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

Paul Addresses the Areopagus

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[c] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;[d]

as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’[e]

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Acts 17 Part 1–Standing Firm in Battle

The message did not change.  Paul went to Thessalonica and began preaching in the Synagogue. They were not being rude or unreasonable.  They were pointing out fulfilled prophecy and God on Mission.  Many were persuaded.  But the Jewish leaders, ever so righteous, gathered the bullies and thugs in Town to attack Paul, Silas, and Luke.  Fortunately, they were moved out and onto Berea.  But their host, Jason was harassed and imprisoned.  He was able to make bail and was released.  The team preached in Berea, many were saved and yet, when the men in Thessalonica heard of the success , they headed to Berea to raise another ruckus!

The enemies of our Lord are relentless.  Often time, those that follow the Lord think they should simply back off and not raise a fuss as that is the “Christian thing to do.”  That simply does not meet Biblical proof.  The Bible is filled with warriors that fought the status quo so that the Gospel would be preached.  We are in a time when the world would have us believe we have reached post Christian era.  Christ is obsolete and the Church antiquated. 

Still, when the world shows its strength it quickly turns to chaos and complete disarray.  The Church, when it quits cowering before public opinion, starts to fill the void people have failed to fill with every other possible means.  After the recent election, Kirk Cameron held a 100-day campfire revival on Facebook live.  It was a look at the constitution and the Republic from a spiritual perspective.  Many thought it would ruin Cameron, but instead it drew an average of 17K folks from all parts of the country and all walks of life.

We must not walk away from spiritual battles.  We must stand firm and speak clearly as we testify to the power of Christ.  Paul said it best in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, it is the power of God unto salvation for anyone who would believe.”  Expect battles if we live for the Lord.  With the battle, also expect the Lord to provide the power to withstand the fight.  Christians that have stood firm in battle have changed the world.  We should never forget who is in charge and follow God closely.  

God Bless You

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews[a] were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

Paul and Silas in Berea

10 The brothers[b] immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.