Do you have a place where you sleep and eat? All over the world these places might look very different, but nearly everyone has a place we call home. Of course there are those struggling with homelessness, and we are called to reach out in love to them. In this final post on Acts 18, though, we’re going to learn about how one couple saw their home as a place for strengthening others. That couple is Priscilla and Aquila, friends of Paul, whom we met in the first post of the series. As we conclude Acts 18, Luke takes us back to Ephesus, where Paul had left Priscilla and Aquilla. Read Acts 18:24-26 to follow along.
We meet someone new: Apollos! He is an Egyptian Jew, from the famous city of Alexandria, Egypt. Apollos, we read, is very educated. He knows his Bible, and is a passionate speaker. Luke even tells us, in verse 25, that Apollos “taught about Jesus accurately.” Scholars debate whether or not Apollos was a true Christian disciple at this point. Either way, he is lacking in his teaching because he only knew about the baptism of John (John the Baptist). What is Apollos lacking, then?
We’re going to learn more about that next week. You can certainly peek ahead if you want into the first few verses of chapter 19, where we read that Paul faces a similar situation with other people who know about John’s baptism, but are missing something important. More on that in the next series of posts.
For now, we read that Apollos traveled to Ephesus, where Priscilla and Aquila invite him into their home and teach him more adequately. I love that. They are discipling him, strengthening him. Even though he is a gifted teacher, he still needs to be taught, and Priscilla and Aquila take him under their wing. So Priscilla and Aquila have continued this week’s theme of not being afraid, but focusing on strengthening the disciples.
The idea of having people into your home is key. Make your home and table a place of physical and spiritual nourishment. Is your home a place of strengthening? I know that we are in a worldwide pandemic, as I write this in July 2020, during which time we have restrictions on gatherings, and it is wise to be cautious. So let’s talk a bit more about fear and wisdom. Where is the balance between the two? Evaluate it for yourself: Has fear kept you from giving your life for the strengthening of the disciples?
It seems to me that even in a quarantine, we have very little excuse, especially when we consider social distancing and technological capabilities. My wife is doing a book study with some friends who are spread out across the country, and they are meeting on Zoom. It is possible to meet people outdoors, in the park, around a campfire, wearing masks if you cannot be socially distant.
How can you be like Paul, Priscilla and Aquila? Is there a step you need to take so that fear is not hindering you, and you are giving your life for the strengthening of the disciples?
Chapter 18 comes full circle as the Christians in Ephesus support Apollos’ desire to go to Achaia, of which Corinth is the capital city. If you peek ahead to chapter 19:1, we read that in fact Apollos went to Corinth. What was he doing there? Read verses 27-28 to learn more.
Apollos continues his ministry doing two things. First, in verse 27, he is a great help to the church. He is strengthening them in the faith! Second in verse 28, he continues what might be called an apologetic ministry. Apologetics is the idea of defending the faith, trying to explain how the faith is true. And it seems that Apollos was very gifted in this.
See that? Apollos is strengthening the church, not afraid to speak up.
Do not be afraid to strengthen the disciples.
What will it look like for you to face your fears about speaking up for Jesus? How do you need to overcome fear to make room in your life to strengthen the disciples?
If you are a teenager, what can it look like for you to speak up and strengthen the disciples? I look back on my high school years as a missed opportunity. I rarely talked with my friends about Jesus. I let fear win. So I encourage you to get a team together, like Paul did. Yes, sometimes he was alone, but most often he connected with other people. Silas, Timothy, Priscilla, Aquila, and many others. Who is your team? Who are the like-minded Christians at school, on your team, at work, in your neighborhood, who you can work together with to strengthen others. A team is a great way to help overcome fear.
If you are a parent or grandparent, what can it look like for you to speak up and strengthen the disciples in your home? As with Priscilla and Aquila, make your home a place where there is conversation, especially around the table. I have been encouraged by Leonard Sweet’s book From Tablet to Table, as well as from Priya Parker’s book The Art of Gathering. Both include wonderfully practical ideas for being intentional about overcoming fear so that you can gather people in your home to strengthen them.
What will it look like to overcome fear and strengthen the disciples in the church? In your workplace? In your home?