God’s People, part 268: Apollos

Read Acts 18:24-28

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”  (1 Corinthians 3:6, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Part 268: Apollos. Apollos was a contemporary of Paul’s. According to our scripture reading today, he was an Alexandrian Jew who, believing in Jesus Christ, arrived in Ephesus and was educated about the baptism of the Holy Spirit by Priscilla and Aquila. From there, he went to Achaia as a missionary and proved to be quite a faithful and effective witness of Jesus Christ.

We also know that Apollos had a successful ministry in the church of Corinth. In his first (technically his 2nd) letter to the Corinthians, Paul mentions the effectiveness of Apollos in baptizing people into the Christian faith. With that said, a bit of a controversy had risen up. Paul had planted that church and was its spiritual father and leader; however, some people felt they owed no allegiance to Paul because they were baptized by Apollos.

The Church of Corinth was a hot mess, honestly! While some of the leaders spent their blood, sweat and tears trying to keep the chuch in line, the majority of its members were caught up in bickering, gossiping, idolatry, and a torrid sexual scandal that most were turning a blind eye to. The scandal was that somone’s husband was in the midst of a sexual affair with his mother-in-law and was refusing to stop said affair. Some in the church felt this was perfectly okay, others felt it was not their business, and others still were so disturbed by this they kept trying to get Paul to put a stop to it.

This is where the Apollos controversy came in. Paul had, in no uncertain terms, told the leaders that they HAD to put an end to this affair. He told them that they were to expel the person sleeping with his mother-in-law out of the church over his unwillingness to stop. Some of these leaders really wanted nothing to do with it and the way they resisted Paul was by decrying him. “Who is this Paul, anyway? We weren’t baptized by him, but by Apollos!” Such was the argument who felt that they owed no allegiance to Paul, despite the fact that the church existed as a result of Paul.

Paul’s answer was just that:

“When one of you says, ‘I am a follower of Paul,’ and another says, ‘I follow Apollos,’ aren’t you acting just like people of the world? After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”  (1 Corinthians 3:4-6, NLT)

Paul’s point was that we are not followers of ordinary people, but of Christ. The church should not be a cult of personality and most certainly should not be ego driven; rather, the church is Christocentric, centered on Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. We should be challenged by this as there are many egos and personalities vying for our loyalty. Our loyalty, as Christians, is owed to Christ alone. Amen.

Our loyalty lies with Christ alone!

Lord, my loyalty is yours alone. Amen.

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