Acts 18:18-28 introduces another character who was important to God’s plans in Corinth (and about whom we know relatively little!) Having met Aquila and Priscilla (fellow tentmakers like Paul) earlier in this chapter, we are now introduced to Apollos, who apparently went on to play a key leadership role in the church in Corinth, if Paul’s letters are anything to go by. It seems some in the church there were to feel he was a more impressive leader than Paul (see 1 Cor 1:12, 1 Cor 3:4-8), but here we meet him for the first time and see how Priscilla and Aquila are instrumental in teaching him more about the Holy Spirit and help him to grow in his knowledge of the Lord.
Apollos was a Jew (originally from Alexandria) who had come to Ephesus. Luke tells us that he was a learned, eloquent man with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. Alexandria had a huge Jewish population at that time. It was there that the Septuagint had been produced about 200 years before Christ, and there that the great scholar Philo (Jesus’s contemporary) had lived and worked. Apollos had been instructed in the way of the Lord and spoke with great fervour (‘matching erudition with enthusiasm,’ as John Stott put it.) However, he only knew about the baptism of John and there must have been, therefore, a limit to what he knew. Priscilla and Aquila invited him to their home to explain the way of God more adequately to him. We do not know exactly how his teaching was previously defective, or if he knew much at all about Jesus’s death, resurrection and exaltation. Perhaps Apollos preached repentance and faith in the Messiah—he maybe even believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah—but he did not know the full magnitude of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We see from these verses the importance of good teaching and how the ministry of Priscilla and Aquila helped Apollos, who, now armed with the complete message, immediately began a preaching ministry and was used of God as an effective apologist for the gospel (Acts 18:28).
Paul clearly had a high regard for Apollos (see Titus 3:13) and regarded him as a co-worker in the gospel. Although we know relatively little about this follower of Jesus, we see once again how the church is made up of many members and each one has a role to play. Each of us can be useful to God as we serve Him with the gifts and talents He has bestowed on us and how we can learn from others to become even more effective in our service.