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What is the significance of Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos?

Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos

Priscilla and Aquila, first mentioned in Acts 18:2, were a married couple who had come from Italy to Corinth after the emperor Claudius deported all Jews from Rome in AD 49. The two are always mentioned together in the New Testament. Priscilla’s disposition or leadership responsibility in the church may explain why her name appears before her husband’s in four out of six New Testament references. It’s also possible that, as a woman of Roman citizenry, she held a higher social rank than her husband.

Priscilla and Aquila were tentmakers (or leatherworkers), loyal friends and trusted co-workers of the apostle Paul, who lived and labored with them in Corinth. The Bible does not state whether Priscilla and Aquila became Christians through Paul’s ministry, but they ministered the gospel alongside Paul and traveled with him to Ephesus (Acts 18:18–28).

Priscilla and Aquila remained in Ephesus while Paul continued his missionary journey (Acts 18:19–23). Before Paul returned to Ephesus, the pair encountered a traveling preacher: “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” (Acts 18:24–26, NLT).

Apollos was a highly educated Jew and native of Alexandria, Egypt. He was well-versed in the Old Testament Scriptures. He was passionate, articulate, truthful, and intelligent. He taught and preached boldly about Jesus, but “he knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25).

John’s baptism had to do with repentance and looked forward to the coming of the Messiah (Matthew 3:11; Acts 19:4). Being baptized by John demonstrated a recognition of one’s sin, a desire for spiritual cleansing, and a commitment to follow God’s law in anticipation of the Messiah’s arrival. Acts 18:25 suggests that Apollos, knowing only the baptism of John, was correct in what he preached but had an incomplete understanding of the gospel. His knowledge of the death, resurrection, mission, and message of Jesus Christ was limited to what he had learned through the disciples of John the Baptist.

Priscilla and Aquila picked up on Apollos’ insufficient understanding of Christian truth. The Bible does not say precisely what information Apollos lacked, but one strong possibility is that he had no knowledge of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (See Acts 1:4, 8; 2:1–13, 38; cf. Acts 19:1–7). Another theory is that Apollos was unaware of Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:16–20) and the ongoing ministry of His disciples. He may not have known about the founding of the New Testament church, the body of Christ, and its widespread mission to the Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14–22).

Priscilla and Aquila possessed a comprehensive grasp of Christian doctrine, most likely acquired from Paul, and they imparted it gently and respectfully to Apollos. Rather than publicly correct or challenge him, the mature husband-and-wife team privately took Apollos under their wing and into their home to explain God’s Word and His way “even more accurately” (Acts 18:26, NLT). They filled in the blanks of missing information, built up Apollos in his faith, and helped the gifted minister fully develop his Christian theology. Then Priscilla and Aquilla sent Apollos on his way to Achaia, where “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, NLT).

To his credit, Apollos accepted the teaching of Priscilla and Aquila without offense. Once properly and thoroughly educated in the Word of God through discerning mentors, Apollos became fully equipped for ministry—an unstoppable force for Jesus Christ and God’s kingdom. His experience illustrates the importance of wise and godly ministerial training and education.

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What is the significance of Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos?
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This page last updated: May 8, 2024