The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Our main character in Acts 18:24-28 is someone we like to call “Apollos.” He’s not of Christian parentage, this early in the Christian period. He is also not of Jewish parentage, being named after a Greek god. He’s a very good speaker, able to bring debates to his desired conclusion. But his teaching was through the lens of John’s baptism.
Priscilla and Aquilla, two disciples of Paul, helped him to understand the Gospel more clearly. That’s a cryptic statement, but it’s Luke’s cryptic statement, not mine. What could he mean? If that statement ties in to the idea that Apollos knew only John’s baptism, it makes more sense. Most Christians through history have distinguished between John’s baptism and Christian baptism. In John’s baptism, people are the focus. It’s an act of obedience and a signal ofour commitment to God. But as Jesus describes baptism in Matthew 28, it is something which is given by God to begin the work of discipleship. It’s applied based on God’s grace, not based on the quality of our repentance. It may look identical, but the directionality is different. John’s baptism is our act before God. Christ’s baptism is God’s work pplied to us.
If this is the case, the rest of the passage makes perfect sense. By hearing Apollos teach, Priscilla and Aquilla could perceive that he viewed the Christian life as one focused on obedience. The Gospel, on the other hand, views the Christian life as one focused on repentance and reception, which results in obedience. It’s a fine shade of difference, but, if we think about it, the difference is awfully important.
Having received correction in his Christian teaching, Apollos is introduced to the different churches and becomes a blessing to many. Good doctrine does this. It encourages others, it brings God’s mercy and grace to people who would otherwise miss it. Again and again we see the circle of Christian teachers and leaders growing larger. The message does not change. It is always exactly the same. But the messengers become more numerous and varied. There is one Gospel for all nations.
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