Online Bible Commentary
The Third Journey Begins
Acts 18:23 After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples. 24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; 28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul has just completed his second missionary journey and returned to his home church in Antioch, Syria. He “spent some time” at his home church (v. 23a). Paul completed his second journey in 52 A. D. and began his third in 53 A. D.
Between his first and second journeys in 49 A.D. it is believed that Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians book, his first Biblical writing. Then, it is believed that, he wrote 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians during his second missionary journey, while he ministered in Corinth, Greece for a year and a half during 51-52 A D.
So now he begins his third journey. Paul traveled overland through the region of Cilicia, likely stopping at his home in Tarsus. Then he continued westward through southern Galatia, ministering to the churches there. Next he continued westward though the region of Phrygia, in the province of Asia for the first time. Paul strengthened “all the disciples” that he found in the areas he visited (v. 23b).
During Paul’s second missionary journey he was not permitted by the Holy Spirit to minister in Asia. He only spent a day in the western port city of Ephesus on his return because his voyage took him there. He spoke at the synagogue only once and did not stay to minister even though he was asked. But this time he apparently was cleared by the Holy Spirit to minister in Asia.
Luke, in his writing, now leaves Paul on his journey and turns to Apollos. Apollos was a Jew by birth from Alexandria, Egypt (v. 24a). He was very learned in the Scriptures and spoke eloquently (v. 24b). Apollos has come to Ephesus to spread the gospel (v. 24c).
Apollos “had been instructed in the way of the Lord” (v. 25a) He was very “fervent in spirit” (v. 25b). The Greek word translated “fervent” means “boiling over” in enthusiasm. Apollos “spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John” (v. 25c). By this, Luke is telling us that Apollos spoke accurately of what he knew but he had not yet received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. His knowledge was not complete, having not yet been informed by the Holy Spirit.
Apollos “spoke boldly” in the synagogue, where he was heard by Aquila and Priscilla, a husband and wife team of believers that Paul had befriended during his second missionary visit to Corinth, Greece (v. 26a). They had sailed to Ephesus with Paul and then stayed there to help with the new believers. After hearing Apollos speak, the Christian couple gently “took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (v. 26b).
Later, Apollos felt called to sail to Achaia (Greece) to minister there (v. 27a). The believers at Ephesus wrote a letter of commendation introducing Apollos to the believers in Greece (v. 27b). Upon arriving in Greece, Apollos “greatly helped” the believers (v. 27c). He “vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (v. 28).
Enthusiasm and knowledge of the Scriptures are needed to teach the Gospel. However, this teaching must also be informed by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Many people have become very knowledgeable of the Bible but have not been good teachers and in fact many have spread false teaching. Even Satan can quote scripture. It requires the presence of the Holy Spirit to effectively teach the Gospel.