Categories: Men in the New Testament
- Apollos is a shortened version of Apollonius.
- He was a Hellenized Jewish Christian who hailed from Alexandria, which was the second largest city in the Roman Empire.
- He is introduced in Acts 18:24-25, where it states that he came to Ephesus. It probably was around 52-54 CE.
- Apollos was a learned man and an eloquent speaker. He may have been proficient in teaching “wisdom” in the allegorical style of Philo, who was a Jewish philosopher living in Alexandria and a great intellectual teacher.
- Apollos came from an environment that was conducive to studying and learning the Scriptures. Alexandria had a library with over half a million scrolls.
- Apollos might have been a commercial traveler who had a trade, yet it is likely that he came to Ephesus for the purpose of doing mission work.
- It says that he taught about Jesus accurately, but that he only knew the baptism of John and nothing about the salvation of Christ.
- He spoke boldly in the synagogue, just as the disciples had done.
- That is where he met Priscilla and Aquila, who heard him preaching and teaching there. But when his information fell short, they thoroughly instructed him.
- They apparently corrected his incomplete knowledge of Christian doctrine.
- To his credit, Apollos was very teachable and willing to learn.
- He did not, however, need to be re-baptized.
- Having this correct information only increased his fervor.
- It says he was “of great help to those who by grace had believed.” (See Acts 18:27 ff)
- His Alexandrian education stood him in good stead.
- He had a special talent for debate and “he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”
- He became very popular in Ephesus, but after a time, he wanted to move forward and went to Corinth. He left just before Paul arrived in Ephesus.
- The brothers in Ephesus wrote letters of introduction for him for the Corinthian church.
- We read in I Corinthians that he was “a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, having been instructed in the way of the Lord.”
- Apparently, he learned his lessons well.
- Nonetheless, after he left Corinth, Chloe’s people told Paul that there were quarrels in the Corinthian Church.
- People were lining up behind their favorite leaders.
- Some were choosing to follow Apollos, others Cephas, or Paul, or Christ.
- Scholars would love to know what is meant by or who is represented by the "Christ" group. Was this perhaps a fourth group, comprised of those who refused to join the fray? Did they reject all the leaders? No one knows, but it surely indicates that smaller groups existed.
- There is reason to consider these groups in terms of their social implications.
- Since Apollos hailed from Alexandria, he is thought to have been well-versed in the arts of eloquence and argument. As a learned man, he would be the sort of leader a cultured, wealthy individual might want to follow.
- Cephas has traditionally been aligned with the Jewish Christians and could easily have been the leader of preference for those who were unwilling to totally depart from their Jewish heritage.
- Paul, while making himself "all things to everyone," was likely favored by the gentiles.
- In any event, now there are divisions and people are quarrelling, shouting at each other, each claiming to belong to separate leaders. Paul wants them to be “knit together” -- not to be clones of each other, but to share the same basic convictions and to be together in the goals of the community.
- He makes no suggestion that one is "right" and the others are "wrong," but asks that they each bring what they have to further the good of the community.
- In 1 Corinthians 3-4, Paul is adamant that both he and Apollos are on the same page. They are both engaged in building up the church. Both are “servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.”
- Fourth century Jerome stated that Apollos was so unhappy with the divisions at Corinth that he retired to Crete, where he lived until the schisms were healed.
- Only then did he return to the city to become its bishop.
- Other traditions have him living in Duras or Iconium or Caesarea.
- He is mentioned in the Epistle to Titus as carrying a letter to Crete.
- Some scholars have speculated that Apollos might have been the author of Hebrews. (Others think it was Barnabas.)
- Either way, there are no known texts written by Apollos.
- He is considered a saint in several Christian churches.