Summary: Why did Luke include the mention of Apollos in his narrative at this point?
“Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the scriptures.”
Whether it was intentional on Luke’s part or just a by-product of the meticulous manner in which he gathered information and compiled it in his letters to Theophilus, an underlying theme that can be easily discerned if we are watching for it is the providence of God in the moving about and placing of His servants for opportune meetings and the making of divine appointments.
Case in point: You may remember a few weeks back when we studied Claudius and the impact he had on the early church. As Roman emperor, in about A.D. 49 he expelled all Jews from Rome. Christians were included in that expulsion since they were considered merely a sect of Judaism at that time.
Among those expelled, as we can see in Acts 18:2, were Aquila and his wife, Priscilla, with whom Paul stayed and rested and made tents until the arrival of Timothy and Silas from Macedonia.
Now for the sake of keeping on track I want to finish making this point about God’s providence, then I’d like to just go back and make an observation or two about this couple, Aquila and Priscilla.
Here they are in Corinth, not by choice, but because they were uprooted from their home and expelled from Italy’s capital city and the seat of the Roman empire.
Paul comes to Corinth and finds them there. We don’t know how; perhaps he has announced to some believers he has found there that he needs a place to stay for a short while and they introduced him to Aquila and Priscilla, already being acquainted with their hospitable and generous nature, and being sure that this couple would take the Apostle in.
In any case, later in this chapter we see Paul setting out for Syria, and he takes Priscilla and Aquila with him. We are also not told precisely why. Perhaps it was because of the trouble that was stirred up in Corinth when the Jews dragged Paul up before Gallio, and since they were identified with him he suggested they leave town with him until things cooled off.
In chapter 18 verse 19 it says they came to Ephesus and he left them there and moved on to Caesarea and from there to Antioch.
So through this series of events, none of which were orchestrated by Priscilla and Aquila, they find themselves in Ephesus, where they have opportunity to hear this eloquent teacher Apollos and discerning that his knowledge of the details of the death and resurrection of Jesus is somewhat lacking, they are in a position to take him aside and complete his repertoire, and he goes on in very effective ministry in the region, specifically, Corinth.
Do you see the big picture here? How God has caused these lives to come together for His purpose? Paul goes to Corinth from Athens after a less than fruitful attempt at ministry there. He takes up residence with Priscilla and Aquila who have been kicked out of Rome and otherwise would not have been there. There is trouble stirred up because of the gospel, so they leave Corinth with Paul and he leaves them in Ephesus. Enter, Apollos, who doesn’t even know he needs them, they help him and bless him and he then goes on to Corinth to become such a powerful leader there that when factions develop in that church one of those factions is saying ‘I am of Apollos’.
Now we’ll talk more later about the influence of Apollos in the Corinthian church. For now I want to keep my promise and back up to look briefly at this amazing couple, Aquila and Priscilla.
In Hebrews 13:2, the writer admonishes the reader to be conscientious in showing hospitality to strangers, revealing that by these means some have entertained angels.
Now I know that Paul didn’t consider himself an angel. But if the Hebrews author ever met Priscilla and Aquila he may have had them in mind when he wrote that admonition.
This gracious couple, even though mistreated and expelled from the comforts and conveniences to which they were no doubt accustomed in Rome, set up house in Corinth and continue their trade of tent-making there.
Paul comes along and they open their home to him, and what wonderful conversation and prayer time these folks must have shared together, as they exchanged their personal testimonies and rejoiced with one another over the marvelous things God had done in their lives.
So fond does Paul grow of them in a short time that when he leaves he cannot bear the thought of them undergoing persecution from the Jews because of him, so he takes them along and sets them up in Ephesus, where they have opportunity to come into contact with Apollos.