Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately. Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him to go. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed. He refuted the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate. Using the Scriptures, he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah.Acts 18:27-28
Now we come to the curious crossover point. As I said two Gems ago, it’s like we have just reached a controlled border between two countries and there has been a prisoner exchange. Luke has written this in such a way that highlights the interplay between Paul and Apollos and the fact that they switch cities between them. When Paul is in Corinth, Apollos is in Ephesus. Then when Paul leaves for Jerusalem via Antioch, Apollos heads for Corinth. The crossover between them is most likely simply the way it happened, although numerous commentators and preachers have tried to make something out of it. I think it just happened that way.
However, the way Luke has written this passage highlights both the switch between Corinth and Ephesus, but perhaps more importantly the focus on Paul and Apollos. Remember Luke is telling us the story of being witnesses in Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria and also to the ends of the earth. But he is doing it also to highlight the fact that the witnesses keep changing and the baseline witness is being carried out in and through the Holy Spirit. This is why some consider the Book of Acts as being the Book of the Holy Spirit. Luke has introduced many who are witnesses to Jesus throughout the book. The inescapable message at the end is that you dear reader are one too. That’s why the book ends so abruptly as we will see. All to tell us the Acts of the Holy Spirit haven’t ended and you too are a carrier (witness).
But at this point in the crossover between chapter eighteen and chapter nineteen there has been debate. In Acts 19:1 Luke picks up again the thread of the story broken off in Acts 18:23 – After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went back through Galatia and Phrygia, visiting and strengthening all the believers. It is curious to say the least how Luke just leaves Paul after such a short succinct statement and then switches to Apollos. Many commentators question the inclusion of the portion on Apollos. The account of the twelve men who have not been properly baptized in Acts 19:1ff and the sandwiching of Apollos between the account of Paul’s ministry. Some feel the account of Apollos was not written by Luke. They feel it is far below the high level of literary Greek that Luke wrote. While they feel the account of the twelve who were not properly baptized was inserted for theological reasons.
But notice that Luke has included it deliberately as a parallel strand by adding the word “meanwhile”. While Paul is ministering here; Apollos is ministering there which follows the structure and thrust of the Book of Acts in terms of multiple witnesses. You can’t also help but notice that both segments are related to baptism and what’s more the focus on “the baptism of John” as contrasted to the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. I conclude it is clearly deliberate on Luke’s parts to highlight these two aspects. So let’s approach it from that point of view.
Here below is chapter 19 for you to examine and divide according to the big picture and to ask your questions.
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” “Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked. And they replied, “The baptism of John.” Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.” As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord. God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled. A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered. The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honoured. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars. So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect. Afterward Paul felt compelled by the Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. “And after that,” he said, “I must go on to Rome!” He sent his two assistants, Timothy and Erastus, ahead to Macedonia while he stayed awhile longer in the province of Asia. About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows: “Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t really gods at all. And he’s done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!” At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater. Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander forward and told him to explain the situation. He motioned for silence and tried to speak. But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” At last the mayor was able to quiet them down enough to speak. “Citizens of Ephesus,” he said. “Everyone knows that Ephesus is the official guardian of the temple of the great Artemis, whose image fell down to us from heaven. Since this is an undeniable fact, you should stay calm and not do anything rash. You have brought these men here, but they have stolen nothing from the temple and have not spoken against our goddess. “If Demetrius and the craftsmen have a case against them, the courts are in session and the officials can hear the case at once. Let them make formal charges. And if there are complaints about other matters, they can be settled in a legal assembly. I am afraid we are in danger of being charged with rioting by the Roman government, since there is no cause for all this commotion. And if Rome demands an explanation, we won’t know what to say.” Then he dismissed them, and they dispersed.Acts 19:1-41
Take the time now to divide the chapter as you feel it should be divided and ask your questions which come to you as you read.
If you’re going to achieve anything great, you will have to stick your neck out at some point and take a risk!Ian Vail
While earning your daily bread, be sure you share a slice with those less fortunate!Anon
Never take advice from someone that doesn’t have to live with the consequences! Be careful.Anon
Everyone in your circle can’t go with you to the next place. Sometimes their exit makes the load lighter so you can get there faster.Ian Vail