What Apollos Lacked

I think I would like Apollos. Here is how he is described in Acts 18:

  • A native of Alexandria who came to Ephesus
  • Eloquent
  • Competent in the scriptures
  • Instructed in the way of the Lord
  • Fervant in Spirit
  • Spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus
  • Spoke boldly in the synagogue
  • But only knew the baptism of John

We are told that Priscilla and Aquilla heard him, took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

What was it about the way of God that they explained more accurately? We aren't told. Was it the message about Jesus?  But we are told that he knew that to the point that he taught it accurately himself. Was it the Old Covenant scriptures that point to him? We hear that he was competent in the scriptures. The one thing that we are told he lacked was that he knew the baptism of John, not the baptism of Jesus.

I hazzard a guess - and it is only a guess - that this is what they more fully explained to him. Its the only thing in the description that seems to have been lacking. And, interestingly, we are immediately introduced to other disciples in Ephesus who hadn't received the Spirit when they believed, an account that seems to mirror that of Apollos (though, I suppose, may include Apollos)

Why is this important? For many years I have taught that there is no experience of baptism in the Spirit, subsequent to conversion, though there may be many subsequent fillings. The respective baptisms we read abhout in Acts seem to fit very well with the schema of Acts being the account of the gospel going to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:8), with a fresh Baptism / Pentecost experience for each new wave of gospel advance. Which makes the accounts non-repeatable as they were unique events that marked each stage in the witness of Acts.

If, however, what Priscilla and Aquilla taught Apollos more accurately was about the baptism of the Spirit, then there is at least a possiblity that this constitutes an example of post-conversion baptism in the Spirit that stands outside of the scheme I have so often taught, and that things are therefore not quite as neatly tied up and systematised as I have previously thought.

I don't really want to go any further at the moment than to raise that possibility. One thing is for sure, though: I love it when there is a possibility of discovering that God is bigger than my understanding and that my knowledge and love of scripture and my experience of the Lord working in my life might get to be bigger in the future than it is now. Lets always be open to the idea that God might challenge our careful frameworks with his Word.