Apollos part 1
by John Thomas Lowe
Apollos part 1
Born 1st century
Died 1st century
Venerated in Anglican Communion
Coptic Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Roman Catholic Church
Apollos was a 1st-century Alexandrian Jewish Christian mentioned several times in the New Testament. A contemporary and colleague of Paul the Apostle, he played an essential role in the early development of the churches of Ephesus and Corinth.
1.1-Acts of the Apostles
1.3-Epistle to Titus
Acts of the Apostles
Apollos is first mentioned as a Christian preacher who had come to Ephesus (probably in A.D. 52 or 53). He is described as "being fervent in spirit: he spoke and accurately taught the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John."Priscilla and Aquila, a Jewish Christian couple who had come to Ephesus with the Apostle Paul, instructed Apollos: "When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more adequately."
The differences between the two understandings probably related to the Christian baptism, since Apollos "knew only the baptism of John." Later, during Apollos' absence, the writer of the Acts of the Apostles recounts an encounter between Paul and some disciples at Ephesus: And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" Moreover, they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." Moreover, he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism."
Moreover, Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Furthermore, when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.
Before Paul's arrival, Apollos had moved from Ephesus to Achaia and lived in Corinth, the provincial capital of Achaia. Acts report that Apollos arrived in Achaia with a letter of recommendation from the Ephesian Christians and "immensely helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (A.D. 55) mentions Apollos as an important figure at Corinth. Paul describes Apollos' role at Corinth: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth."
Paul's Epistle refers to a split between four parties in the Corinthian Church. Two attached themselves to Paul and Apollos, respectively, using their names (the third and fourth were Peter, identified as Cephas, and Jesus Christ himself). It is possible, though, that, as Msgr. Ronald Knox suggests the parties were two, one claiming to follow Paul, the other claiming to follow Apollos. "It is surely probable that the supporters of St. Paul ... alleged in defense of his belief the fact that he was in full agreement with, and in some sense commissioned by the Apostolic College. Hence 'I am for Cephas.' ... What reply was the faction of Apollos to make? It devised an expedient which has been imitated by sectaries more than once in later times; appealed behind the Apostolic College itself to him from whom the Apostolic College derived its dignity; 'I am for Christ.'" Paul states that the schism arose because of the Corinthians' immaturity in faith.
Apollos was a devout Jew born in Alexandria. Apollos' origin in Alexandria has led to speculations that he would have preached in the allegorical style of Philo. Theologian Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, for example, commented: "It is difficult to imagine that an Alexandrian Jew ... could have escaped the influence of Philo, the great intellectual leader ... particularly since the latter seems to have been especially concerned with education and preaching."
There is no indication that Apollos favored or approved an overestimation of his person. Paul urged him to go to Corinth, but Apollos declined, stating that he would come later when he had an opportunity.
Epistle to Titus
Apollos is mentioned one more time in the New Testament. In the Epistle to Titus, the recipient is exhorted to "speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way."
Jerome states that Apollos was so dissatisfied with the division at Corinth that he retired to Crete with Zenas. Once the split had been healed by Paul's letters to the Corinthians, Apollos returned to the city became one of its elders. Less probable traditions assign the bishopric of Duras, Iconium in Phrygia, or Caesarea.
Pope Benedict XVI suggested that the name "Apollos" was probably short for Apollonius or Apollodorus. He also suggested those in Corinth "...fascinated by Apollo's way of speaking...."
Both Apollos and Barnabas were Jewish Christians with sufficient intellectual authority. Martin Luther and some modern scholars have proposed Apollos as the Epistle to the Hebrews author rather than Paul or Barnabas. The Pulpit Commentary treats Apollos' authorship of Hebrews as "generally believed." Other than this, there are no known surviving texts attributed to Apollos. Apollos is regarded as a saint by several Christian churches, including the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, commemorating him with saints Aquila and Priscilla, on February 13th. Apollos is considered one of the 70 apostles, and his feast day is December 8th in the Eastern Orthodox church.Apollos is not confused with St. Apollo of Egypt, a monk whose feast day is January 25th who died in 395. Apollos does not have a feast day of his own in the traditional Roman Martyrology, nor is he reputed to have ever been a monk (as most monks come after St. Anthony the Great).
Apollos was an evangelist, defender, church leader, and friend of the Apostle Paul. Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria, Egypt, described as "eloquent," "mighty in the Scriptures," "fervent in the spirit," and "instructed in the way of the Lord" (Acts 18:24). In A.D. 54, he traveled to Ephesus, where he taught boldly in the synagogue. However, at that time, Apollos' understanding of the gospel was incomplete since he was "acquainted only with the baptism of John" (Acts 18:25). This probably means that 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. Aquila and Priscilla, friends of Paul, spent some time with Apollos and filled in the gaps in his understanding of Jesus Christ (Acts 18:26). Now armed with the complete message, Apollos immediately began preaching and used God as an effective apologist for the gospel (Acts 18:28).
Apollos traveled through Achaia and eventually found his way to Corinth (Acts 19:1), where he "watered" where Paul had "sown" (1 Corinthians 3:6). This is important to remember when studying the first Epistle to Corinth. Apollos had attracted a following among the Church in Corinth with his natural gifts, but simple admiration grew into divisiveness. Against Apollos' wishes, a faction in Corinth claimed him as their spiritual mentor, to the exclusion of Paul and Peter. Paul deals with this partisanship in 1 Corinthians 1:12-13. Christ is not divided, and neither should we be. We cannot love personality over truth.
The last mention of Apollos in the Bible comes in Paul's letter to Titus: "Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need" (Titus 3:13). Obviously, Apollos was on his way through Crete (where Titus was) at this time. Moreover, just as obviously, Paul still considered Apollos to be a valuable co-laborer and friend.
Some believe that Apollos eventually returned to Ephesus to serve the Church there. It is possible that he did, although there is no biblical confirmation of this detail. Also, some identify Apollos as the unknown author of the book of Hebrews; again, there is no biblical support for such an identification. The author of Hebrews remains unknown.
In summary, Apollos was a man of letters with a zeal for the Lord and a talent for preaching. He labored in the Lord's work, aiding the ministry of the apostles and faithfully building up the Church. His life should encourage each of us to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord" (2 Peter 3:18) and to use our God-given gi[part 2fts to promote truth.