Today Aquila and Priscilla meet a Jewish man named Apollos, “an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures,” who preaches the Lord boldly in Ephesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. When Aquila and Priscilla hear him, they take him aside and explain to him the way of God more accurately, probably teaching of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Then Apollos travels through Achaia to the church in Corinth where he refutes “the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.”
When Paul arrives in Ephesus, he baptizes twelve disciples of John in the name of Jesus. “And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”
In Ephesus, God works unusual miracles at the hand of Paul. When some Jewish exorcists try to imitate the works of Paul by attempting to cast out evil spirits in the name of Jesus, an evil spirit responds to them saying, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” The evil spirits are fully aware of the ones who are a threat to them, Jesus and Paul; but they are uninterested in the ones who do not belong to Jesus. And since the exorcists do not have a true relationship with Jesus Christ, they are overpowered by the evil spirit. “This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”
From Ephesus, Paul writes a letter to the church in Corinth, based on a report he receives saying that the church is experiencing division due to the arrogance of the more influential members, social elitism in the church, as well as sexual immorality. There is also confusion on marriage and divorce, participation in pagan religions, the design of corporate worship, and the bodily resurrection of Christians.
In Paul’s letter, he urges the Corinthians to be set apart as one in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. He tells them not to argue over who baptized whom, as our power does not come from any man but through Christ and by the gift of the Holy Spirit, who reveals all things spiritual to us. Paul explains that no man should boast in himself, as all that we have is a gift from the Lord:
- “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’”
- “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Since Paul and Apollos are just ministers of the Lord through whom the new converts believed, Paul tells them that they do not need to quarrel over which one baptized them. Paul explains to them how sharing the Gospel works – ”I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor… For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”
Tomorrow more from Paul to the Corinthians. Keep reading.
(Acts 18:24-19:20,1 Corinthians 1:1-3:18)