Paul eventually left Corinth taking Aquila and Priscilla with him to Ephesus. Paul remained there only a short time, and then left the two in Ephesus, probably to set up a base for more operations in the future, and traveled to Jerusalem and then to Antioch, ending his second missionary journey. He remained in Antioch for an indeterminate period of time, and then left on his third missionary journey.
Meanwhile, back in Ephesus, Aquila and Pricilla seem to have been making some progress when a man named Apollos came upon the scene. He was an educated man who hailed from Alexandria, and an excellent teacher and debater, yet he still lacked a few fundamentals of the faith. Aquila and Priscilla quickly got him up to speed, and he became a powerful force for the Gospel. Soon he was off to Achaia where he was known to have debated leading Jews about Jesus, proving from the Scriptures that He is the Messiah.
Clearly this is a transitional text, covering the time from the winding up of Paul’s second journey and setting the stage for the drama of the third. Yet even with that said, it has an interesting and very relevant message for us today, for in these few verses, we can see a dramatic example of the way that discipleship is supposed to work.
Paul disciples Aquila and Priscilla, and when they were ready, he didn’t simply leave them to repeat the same things they had always done, rather he took them to Ephesus so that they could play a central role in the establishment of a whole new church in that city. Then Apollos comes along, a man who had a gift for preaching the Word, yet even though he was a very talented and gifted man, he still needed some guidance in his teaching, and Aquila and Priscilla provided that guidance, and soon sent him on his way to establish new congregations in another area. In this we see discipleship on the part of Paul paying dividends for the Kingdom, and then his disciples in turn passing the torch to newly trained disciples who go out and repeat the process with the result that the Gospel spreads throughout the region at a much faster rate than it would have otherwise been able to spread… and God being glorified through all of it.
Most of us don’t do that today.
At one point in my life, I taught a Sunday school class for 10 consecutive years, and never missed a Sunday. For the entire time, I had essentially the same people in the class; no one ever graduated. The reason that I didn’t miss a single Sunday as teacher was that there was no one else who would fill in for me. It wasn’t because the people hadn’t learned enough, and it wasn’t because they couldn’t have done a terrific job of it. It was because they had no concept of ever doing anything other than filling a seat on Sunday, instead they thought that that’s all anyone ever really needs to do, and no matter how often I told them otherwise, they simply could not comprehend that there was anything else for them to do, for they had sold out to the idea that they were going to be “lifelong Bible students”.
Teaching along with ministry was supposed to be someone else’s problem; leave that to the professionals.
Obviously that wasn’t the attitude in Paul’s day, and just as obviously it shouldn’t be ours today.
Soon, Paul would return to Ephesus, and he would create quite a stir; see you next time!