Acts 18:18-28

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 5, 1998

Introduction

Even though Corinth was the wickedest city on earth, Paul found a fruitful ministry there, staying for 1 Ĺ years. But itís now time to move on. There is a sense of closure to this phase of his ministry. Heís heading home.

:18-19 And he came to Ephesus

Ephesus was another one of the great cities of Paulís day. It was the capital of Asia, had a population of 300,000, and was home to the great temple of Diana (or, Artemis) which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was one of the major seaports on the Aegean Sea, Paulís coming to Ephesus is a bit like having a "layover" in Dallas on a flight to the East Coast. Heís probably only here long enough to catch a ship sailing for Caesarea.

Itís kind of ironic that a few years earlier, Paul had wanted to go into Asia to preach, but had been "forbidden by the Holy Ghost" (Acts 16:6). Now heís here, in the capital of Asia, but he no longer has a desire to stay and preach.

:19 and left them there

Aquila and Priscilla are going to stay in Ephesus.

:19 and reasoned with the Jews.

reasoned Ė "dialogued"

:20 Ö tarry longer time with them, he consented not

Hereís an amazing thing! Here are some Jews in a synagogue wanting to hear more from Paul, and he turns them down! Why did he turn them down?

He was going home. He had finished a period of ministry, a time of being dedicated to the Lord. The cutting of his hair was an act of finishing a Nazarite vow (Num.6), a time of being specially dedicated to the Lord. Paul saw this time of ministry as being over.

Lesson:

Keeping your priorities straight

Sometimes we can get so overwhelmed with the opportunities and needs around us, that itís hard for us to say "no".

Notice what Paul is saying "no" to. These are unbelieving Jews asking Paul to stay and speak more to them about the good news of Jesus Christ.

Isnít it Godís will that people be saved? Yes.

Doesnít God want us to be telling the world about Jesus? Yes.

Isnít it Godís will for me to be sharing the gospel with every single unbelieving person I encounter? No.

Itís not that God doesnít want you to share with everybody. But you arenít the only one in the world that can share the gospel. And that other person may not be ready.

We need to realize that we arenít going to solve the worldís problems on our own. I canít single-handedly win the world to Christ.

But I can do my part as a part of the Body of Christ. And as more and more parts of the Body of Christ follow the direction of the head, Jesus, then the right needs are met at the right time.

I get concerned when I see a person who says "yes" to everything.

I know they are one day going to get burned out. I know their family is going to pay a high price. What often follows is that they go through a cycle of being involved, bailing out, being involved, etc.

A part of growing up in the Lord is learning to stick to what you need to be doing.

"It is the mark of a grown-up man, as compared with a callow youth, that he finds his center of gravity wherever he happens to be at the moment, and however much he longs for the object of his desire, it cannot prevent him from staying at his post and doing his duty." Ė Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Keep your eyes on whatís first priority.

Luke 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. {39} And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. {40} But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. {41} And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: {42} But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

If your great busy-ness in trying to do Godís work has taken you away from the one thing that He most requires of you (sitting at His feet, listening to Him), then you are much too busy! Itís okay to say "no".

:21 if God will

Lesson:

Living each day as the Lord wills.

Sometimes we use that phrase, "if the Lord wills" without really thinking about it. Sometimes it seems to be more of a copout, as a way of telling someone "no", but blaming it on the Lordís will.

But God REALLY wants us to live willingly under the umbrella of His will.

(James 4:13-16 NKJV) Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; {14} whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. {15} Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." {16} But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

Does God really have permission to move your schedule around?

Illustration

I had a couple of interesting things happen to me this week, helping me to see again that God has the ability of putting me just where he wants me to be.

On Monday afternoon, one of the families in the church had an emergency where their young baby swallowed something she shouldnít have. After pumping her stomach at one hospital emergency room, she was to be transported by ambulance to CHOC hospital in Orange. I told the dad Iíd drive down with him to show him how to get there. When we got to the hospital parking structure, the bottom half was being painted, so we headed up to the upstairs parking. We circled around, without finding a parking space, and were just about to go to another gal from the church who had been helping with the emergency, who had already parked her car, but was wandering around not knowing where to go from there. We just happened to be there just at the right moment to run into her, and take her with us.

On Tuesday morning, I was dropping the boys off at a friendís house after their swimming lessons, and was a little frustrated because the boys were dragging their feet and running a little late. After dropping them off, I thought Iíd head to St. Jude hospital to visit a couple of people who I thought were there, and just happened to run into another gal from our church, whoís son had gone in for emergency surgery the night before. After going up and praying with the family, I went back downstairs only to realize that the other two people I thought I was supposed to visit were not at St. Jude!

Iíve often heard Pastor Chuck say that the first thing he prays in the morning is, "Lord, take my schedule today and do whatever you want with it!" That way, if "interruptions" come up, you donít look at them as being bothersome, you look at them as God changing your schedule.

One of Chuckís favorite sayings is, "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken."

:21 And he sailed from Ephesus

Did Paul ever make it back to Ephesus? Yes! In fact, it will be the city that he stays the longest at, about three years (Acts 19).

:22 And when he had landed at Caesarea

Caesarea was the capital of Palestine, with an important seaport. Itís another of those "hubs" in the sea-liner business. It was a 500 mile sea voyage from Ephesus.

:22 and gone up, and saluted the church

Referring to going "up" to Jerusalem, which is up in the hills.

saluted Ė aspazomai Ė greet, usually warmly as with embracing and kissing.

:22 he went down to Antioch

This marks the end of Paulís second missionary journey.

:24-28 Meet Apollos

:24 a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria

Alexandria Ė Alexander the Great founded this city of northern Egypt in 332 BC and placed a colony of Jews there. By Paulís day, the population was about 600,000, one third of which were Jews. There was a great university there and library with 700,000 volumes there.

:24 an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures

eloquent Ė logios Ė learned, a man of letters, skilled in literature and the arts, esp. versed in history and the antiquities; skilled in speech, eloquent; rational, wise

mighty Ė dunatos Ė able, powerful, mighty, strong, lit., "came to Ephesus being able in the Scriptures"

:25 ... fervent ... he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord

fervent Ė zeo Ė to boil with heat, be hot. Apollos wasnít just an egghead with a lot of knowledge. He also had fire in his belly.

diligently Ė akribos Ė exactly, accurately, diligently

:25 knowing only the baptism of John.

knowing Ė epistamai Ė to be acquainted with

Johnís baptism was known as a baptism of repentance. It was a baptism that simply stood for a turning away from sins (Acts 19:4).

In contrast, Christian baptism not only is a symbol of turning away from your sins, but it is also a picture of identifying with Jesus. When you go into the water, itís to remind you that you have died with Christ on the cross. As you are raised from the water, itís a picture of being raised with Christ in newness of life.

Apparently Apollos had been exposed at some point to the ministry of John the Baptist.

He understood the need for people to repent from their sins and be baptized. He understood that John was encouraging people to believe in the coming Messiah. Itís possible that Apollos might have understood that Jesus was the Messiah, as John became aware of.

But there came a point where Apollos had become disconnected to the things going on in Israel. He was unaware of Jesusí crucifixion and resurrection. He was unaware of coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Apollos had a ministry, but it was incomplete. He didnít know all he should have known.

:26 they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly

took him Ė proslambano Ė to take to, to take as one's companion, to take by the hand in order to lead aside, to take or receive into one's home, grant one access to one's heart, to take into friendship. Itís kind of like having someone over to the house for supper.

more perfectly Ė same word used of Apollosí teaching in verse 25, akribos, except in a greater measure. He used to know the Scriptures "exactly", but now they show him the Scriptures more exactly, more accurately, more diligently.

Thereís a sense of tenderness and gentleness here.

I can kind of hear them say to Apollos, "Now young man, youíve done a fine job teaching the Word of God very carefully and accurately. Now letís take a closer look Ö"

I remember being told in seminary to be careful about your attitude when you start out as pastor of a church. Some young guys think they have the world and ministry all figured, when in reality, there are precious saints in the church that are miles ahead of them. We need to learn from each other.

:27 to pass into Achaia

Heíll end up in Corinth (Acts 19:1), the capital of Achaia.

:27 the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him

It helps to know if someone is trustworthy or valuable in ministry, and so recommendations are valuable. Aquilaís recommendation would go far.

:27 helped them much

Apollos had a tremendous ministry in Corinth.

And as can happen under a powerful ministry, people begin to attach themselves too much to the person doing the ministry rather than to Jesus Christ.

Lesson:

Donít idolize the messenger.

Just a year or two down the line here, Paul is going to get a report of how things are going in Corinth since Apollos had been there. Heíll write back to them:

1 Cor 1:10-17 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. {11} For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. {12} Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. {13} Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? {14} I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; {15} Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. {16} And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. {17} For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

There were divisions in the church at Corinth that began to develop after Apollos began to minister there.

There were some in the church that felt that Apollos was the best preacher that ever lived. Others in the church remembered Paul, and felt they needed to be loyal to him. Still others got real spiritual and laid claim to having heard the gospel from Peter, others claimed to just belong to Christ.

When Paul ministered in Corinth, he made an effort not to do a lot of the baptizing because he didnít want people following him, he wanted people following Jesus.

1 Cor 3:1-11 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. {2} I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. {3} For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? {4} For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? {5} Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

The dividing between believers over which human person youíre following is simply carnal immaturity.

A godly minister isnít trying to get you to follow him, heís trying to get you to follow Jesus.

{6} I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. {7} So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Paul had started or planted the church. Apollos has now come along and helped the church, watering it. But Paulís point is that neither of the preachers are anything special, itís God that does the real work in peoplesí lives.

Amazingly enough, there are times when some folks have thought that I was pretty wonderful. But I know that if they stick around long enough, theyíll find that Iíve got just as much problems as their last pastor. Donít think Iím anything special. The best thing that can happen to you at this church is not getting to know me better, itís getting to know Jesus better.

:28 convinced the Jews Ö that Jesus was Christ

convinced Ė diakatelegchomai Ė to answer conclusively against a rival as in a contest; to argue down to a finish. It is the imperfect tense and does not mean that Apollos convinced these rabbis, but he had the last word.

Lesson:

Jesus is the Savior

Apollos used the Jewish Scriptures to prove to these people that Jesus was indeed their promised Savior, their Messiah, their Christ.

Perhaps he shared the Scriptures that had prophesied about their Saviorís ministry:

His birth and lineage (Gen.49:10; Jer.23:5; Is.7:14; Mic.5:2)

That he would be betrayed by a friend (Ps.41:9), and sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zech.11:12)

That he would be scourged and crucified with thieves (Is. 53:5, 12; Ps.22), yet be buried in a rich manís tomb (Is. 53:9)

That he would rise again (Ps.16:10)

Perhaps he shared with them their need for a Savior.

(Isa 59:1-2 KJV) Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: {2} But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Perhaps he shared the Scriptures that spoke of the Savior paying for their sins.

(Isa 53:5 KJV) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Who is Jesus to you? Is He just a nice guy that lived 2,000 years ago? Do you realize what love God has shown towards you in offering to take away the very sin that separates you from Him?

(Rom 5:8 KJV) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

How will you respond to Godís offer of love?