Summary: The Bible is full of surprises, and some of the best are characters that pop up in the Book of Acts and then pop right back out again. Apollos the Eloquent is one of them.

Surprised by Scripture: Apollos the Eloquent

Series: Acts

Charles Sligh

August 12, 2017

TEXT: Acts 18:24-28 – “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man was instructed in the of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. 27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much who had believed through grace: 28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”


Illus. – Growing up, when our family went out for an ice cream cone, my dad would ask my mom what flavor she would like. Often, she’d say, “Surprise me!” She told me she was rarely disappointed in Dad’s choice.

I love surprises, and there are a lot of them in the Bible….

--It’s surprising that God saved a man like Saul, who became the great Apostle Paul.

--Think of the surprise to the Israelites when they came to the Red Sea with the Egyptians in hot pursuit, and suddenly…SURPRISE! God parts the sea for them to cross over.

--Think of how surprising it was to live in Galilee when a man named Jesus suddenly starts turning water into wine, calming storms, healing the sick and raising the dead!

--There are so many other surprises in the Bible: surprise appearances of angels; surprise deliverances, like Peter’s miraculous prison-breaks; and surprise births.

--Like when Sarah gave birth to Isaac at 90 years old! – I know Sarah had no children at this time, but imagine 89-year-old grandma gathering your family to say, “Kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, I have an announcement: I’M GOING TO HAVE A BABY!”

Those were all surprises that people in the Bible in the experienced. What is cool to me is when I meet surprising people I meet in the Bible.

Apollos is one of those surprises. There’s no hint of him before chapter 18, and then he leaps into the Bible! He’s mentioned once more in Acts 19:1, and then you never hear of him in Acts again, although Paul mentions him 7 times in 1 Corinthians and once in Titus.

Though little is written about him in the scriptures, he’s an example of one of those surprising people who pop up from time and again in the book of Acts. And there are several things about him that are surprising.

I. FIRST, IT IS SURPRISING TO MEET A MAN WHO IS WAS “MIGHTY IN THE SCRIPTURES” – Verse 24 – “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.”

People who are “mighty in the scriptures” are rare, and it’s always a surprise to meet one. It was rare in Paul’s day, for in all the book of Acts, Apollos is the only one so described—and it is rare today as well.

But what does it mean to be a person who is mighty in the scriptures? To be mighty in the scriptures does not refer to having mere knowledge of the facts of the Bible in your head. Your knowledge of the Bible may be extensive and accurate, and yet you can be very ignorant of their spiritual meaning or implications, and not even be a believer.

Illus. – For instance, my grandfather read several chapters of the Bible every night. However, until later in his life, he was not a true believer in Jesus Christ. He read the Bible for the same reason he read through several encyclopedias—to fill his head with knowledge, mostly to win arguments! He had an extensive knowledge of the FACTS of the Bible—but because he lacked the Spirit of God, he was not “mighty in the scriptures.”

Thus, he was receptive to every wind of doctrine that came down the pike. He often took obscure passages as arguing points for ideas totally contrary to the tenor and intent of Scripture. He was great for irrelevant Bible minutia, but had no idea of how it all fit together, or how it should apply to his life personally.

Why?—Because mere intellectual knowledge of the scriptures is not enough. You need to be “MIGHTY in the scriptures.”

Being “mighty in the scriptures” includes two things:

1) First, it does involve knowing FACTS of the Bible.

I’m not saying these are not important. That’s why we should teach our children, and know ourselves, the Bible’s stories and its doctrines and the truths it embodies. This can come through the teaching ministry of the local church, personal Bible study and training in the home. But, as I said before, this alone is not enough.

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