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Apollos at Corinth
AFTER leaving Corinth, Paul's next scene of labor was Ephesus. He was on his way to Jerusalem, to attend an approaching festival; and his stay at Ephesus was necessarily brief. He reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue, and so favorable was the impression made upon them that they entreated him to continue his labors among them. His plan to visit Jerusalem prevented him from tarrying then, but he promised to return to them, “if God will." Aquila and Priscilla had accompanied him to Ephesus, and he left them there to carry on the work that he had begun.
It was at this time that "a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.” He had heard the preaching of John the Baptist, had received the baptism of repentance, and was a living witness that the work of the prophet had not been in vain. The Scripture record of Apollos is that he This chapter is based on Acts 18:18-28.
"was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.''
While in Ephesus, Apollos “began to speak boldly in the synagogue. Among his hearers were Aquila and Priscilla, who, perceiving that he had not yet received the full light of the gospel, “took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” Through their teaching he obtained a clearer understanding of the Scriptures, and became one of the ablest advocates of the Christian faith.
Apollos was desirous of going on into Achaia, and the brethren at Ephesus "wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him” as a teacher in full harmony with the church of Christ. He went to Corinth, where, in public labor and from house to house, “he mightily convinced the Jews, . . . showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” Paul had planted the seed of truth; Apollos now watered it. The success that attended Apollos in preaching the gospel led some of the believers to exalt his labors above those of Paul. This comparison of man with man brought into the church a party-spirit that threatened to hinder greatly the progress of the gospel.
During the year and a half that Paul had spent in Corinth, he had purposely presented the gospel in its simplicity. “Not with excellency of speech or of wisdom” had he come to the Corinthians; but with fear and trembling, and “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” had he declared “the testimony of God," that their “faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”'
11 Cor. 2:1, 4, 5.
Paul had necessarily adapted his manner of teaching to the condition of the church. “I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual,” he afterward explained to them, “but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 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.”? Many of the Corinthian believers had been slow to learn the lessons that he was endeavoring to teach them. Their advancement in spiritual knowledge had not been proportionate to their privileges and opportunities. When they should have been far advanced in Christian experience, and able to comprehend and to practise the deeper truths of the Word, they were standing where the disciples stood when Christ said to them, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Jealousy, evilsurmising, and accusation had closed the hearts of many of the Corinthian believers against the full working of the Holy Spirit, which “searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” However wise they might be in worldly knowledge, they were but babes in the knowledge of Christ.
It had been Paul's work to instruct the Corinthian converts in the rudiments, the very alphabet, of the Christian faith. He had been obliged to instruct them as those who were ignorant of the operations of divine power upon the heart. At that time they were unable to comprehend the mysteries of salvation; for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are ? 1 Cor. 3:1, 2. 3 John 16:12.
*1 Cor. 2:10.
18 - Acts
spiritually discerned.” Paul had endeavored to sow the seed, which others must water. Those who followed him must carry forward the work from the point where he had left it, giving spiritual light and knowledge in due season, as the church was able to bear it.
When the apostle took up his work in Corinth, he realized that he must introduce most carefully the great truths he wished to teach. He knew that among his hearers would be proud believers in human theories, and exponents of false systems of worship, who were groping with blind eyes, hoping to find in the book of nature theories that would contradict the reality of the spiritual and immortal life as revealed in the Scriptures. He also knew that critics would endeavor to controvert the Christian interpretation of the revealed Word, and that skeptics would treat the gospel of Christ with scoffing and derision.
As he endeavored to lead souls to the foot of the cross, Paul did not venture to rebuke, directly, those who were licentious, or to show how heinous was their sin in the sight of a holy God. Rather he set before them the true object of life, and tried to impress upon their minds the lessons of the divine Teacher, which, if received, would lift them from worldliness and sin to purity and right
He dwelt especially upon practical godliness, and the holiness to which those must attain who shall be accounted worthy of a place in God's kingdom. He longed to see the light of the gospel of Christ piercing the darkness of their minds, that they might see how offensive in the sight of God were their immoral practices. Therefore the burden of his teaching among them was .Christ and Him crucified. He sought to show them that their most earnest study and their greatest joy must be the wonderful truth of salvation through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
51 Cor. 2:14.
The philosopher turns aside from the light of salvation, because it puts his proud theories to shame; the worldling refuses to receive it, because it would separate him from his earthly idols. Paul saw that the character of Christ must be understood before men could love Him, or view the cross with the eye of faith. Here must begin that study which shall be the science and the song of the redeemed through all eternity. In the light of the cross alone can the true value of the human soul be estimated.
The refining influence of the grace of God changes the natural disposition of man. Heaven would not be desirable to the carnal-minded; their natural, unsanctified hearts would feel no attraction toward that pure and holy place; and if it were possible for them to enter, they would find there nothing congenial. The propensities that control the natural heart must be subdued by the grace of Christ, before fallen man is fitted to enter heaven, and enjoy the society of the pure, holy angels. When man dies to sin, and is quickened to new life in Christ, divine love fills his heart; his understanding is sanctified; he drinks from an inexhaustible fountain of joy and knowledge; and the light of an eternal day shines upon his path, for with him continually is the Light of life.
Paul had sought to impress upon the minds of his Corinthian brethren the fact that he and the ministers associated with him were but men com