Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 18:27-19:7
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 18:27, 28
v27: Apollos wanted to go directly to Greece (Achaia) without stopping to minister along the way. Members of the Ephesian church wrote a letter of recommendation to send along with him encouraging the church there to welcome him and trust him as a reliable teacher. When he arrived, Luke says he greatly strengthened those who believed they were saved by grace. v28: For he strongly (loud, clear) and publicly, one by one, exposed the errors in the arguments the Jews used to discredit Christ. By using the scriptures, he was able to prove that Messiah is Jesus. Apparently, after Paul left, the believers in Corinth (Ac 19:1) became vulnerable to claims made by the synagogue leaders that Paul had misled them. Those who continued going to the synagogue on the Sabbath, or had strong family ties, were probably being subjected to attempts to prove that Paul had distorted the true meaning of the scriptures, claiming that the prophets did not speak of a dying and rising Messiah.

Monday: Acts 18:28
v28 (continued): When Apollos arrived, the church in Corinth once again had a capable Bible-teacher to represent them in public arguments with members of the synagogue, as well as someone who could sit down and help a believer who was beginning to doubt the gospel. Using passage after passage, he was able to prove to them that Paul had not deceived them or taught them a foreign religion. Jesus was indeed Israel’s promised Savior. Luke describes Apollos’ role in Corinth not primarily as an evangelist, though he must have led many to Christ (1Co 1:12), but as a teacher who was able to explain and defend the faith which they had been taught. This helps us understand what Paul meant when he wrote to them saying, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (1Co 3:6). He might have added that Apollos also “weeded,” pulling out doubts which had been sown into the minds of some of them after Paul left.

Tuesday: Acts 19:1
v1: When Paul returned to Ephesus, Apollos had already gone on to Corinth. As he had done before (Ac 15:41; 16:6), Paul would have walked from Antioch in Syria, through the Taurus mountains at the “Cilician Gates,” and into the regions of Galatia and Phrygia. Undoubtedly, he visited the churches he founded as he passed through each city, but his destination was Ephesus. The Roman highway west of Pisidian Antioch passed through, or near, some significant cities in the highlands of Asia Minor (Laodicea, Colossae, and Hieropolis), but Paul was in a hurry and didn’t stop to preach. Aquila and Priscilla would be waiting for him (Ac 18:19), and he had promised members of the synagogue he would return, if God permitted him to do so (Ac 18:19-21).

Wednesday: Acts 19:1
v1 (continued): Soon after his arrival in Ephesus, Paul came across a group of men who were followers of the teachings of John the Baptist. Luke takes the time to carefully describe this encounter for a reason. Whether or not they had known Apollos before Priscilla and Aquila taught him “the things concerning Jesus” more accurately (Ac 18:25, 26), we’re not told, but Luke does show us that their faith was similar to his. So, by listening to Paul’s dialogue with these men, and observing how he ministered to them, we are discovering what Paul would have said and done for Apollos. We are watching him change disciples of John into disciples of Jesus.

Thursday: Acts 19:2
v2: Paul asked them two questions. First, he asked, “If you received the Holy Spirit, having believed?” (literal). And they answered, “But we heard not if the Holy Spirit is…” (literal). Their reply to his question is often thought to mean they said no one had ever told them about the Holy Spirit, in other words, they didn’t even know He existed. But, if these men knew anything about John’s teaching, that’s impossible. John’s message centered on the fact that the coming Messiah would “baptize” people with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mt 3:11, 12; Jn 1:33; 3:34). This is one of the major themes of the Old Testament prophets. It is repeatedly taught that when Messiah comes He will bring in the era of the Spirit, and when that happens, the Spirit of the Lord will cover the whole earth as the waters cover the sea (Is 11:9; Hab 2:14). So what they must have meant by their answer is, “But we heard not if the Holy Spirit is (given),” in other words, we had not heard that this promised blessing had arrived yet. Obviously, a report about the Day of Pentecost (Ac 2) had not reached them, but then, neither had a report about the cross and resurrection.

Friday: Acts 19:3, 4
v3: Hearing their response, Paul immediately asked a second question, “Into what then were you baptized?” (literal), to which they replied, “Into the baptism of John” (literal). They were sincere followers of God, and even considered Jesus to be the promised Messiah (v4), but they did not understand why Jesus had died, nor had they been taught to put their faith in Him as their Savior. v4: Paul would have known well the ministry of John the Baptist. He was studying in Jerusalem during the years that John was baptizing at the Jordan River (Ac 22:3). He may even have gone out to listen to him preach (Jn 1:19-28). So he knew why John baptized people, and when he heard their answer he immediately knew what was missing. He told them, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe in the One coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” Indeed, John had openly declared that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah (Jn 1:24-34; 3:28-30). But as we noted earlier (Ac 18:25), John was executed before Jesus died, rose, ascended into heaven, or poured out the Holy Spirit on His followers, so John’s followers did not know or, at least, did not understand these truths. No one had taught them to place their faith in Christ or to receive from Him the power of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday: Acts 19:5-7
v5: Luke doesn’t tell us all Paul taught them before he baptized them, but in view of the fact that these men were either Jews, or Gentiles who were following a Jewish prophet (John the Baptist), he would have explained the same truths he normally taught in a synagogue (Ac 13:16-41). And they were very responsive to his message. Luke says, “And having heard, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus” (literal). They had already repented and confessed their repentance through baptism. They had already acknowledged that they were sinful and deserved God’s judgment. They had already pledged to God that they would seek to live lives that produced the “fruit of repentance,” lives marked by generosity, honesty and contentment (Lk 3:8-14). So Paul baptized them again, not to reject the repentance they confessed the first time, but to give them the opportunity to confess their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus (Ro 6:3-5). v6: Then Paul laid his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. As we’ve seen before, the apostles did not seem to feel that a person’s initiation into the Christian life was complete until he or she had received the Holy Spirit in a manner similar to what happened on the day of Pentecost (Ac 2:4, 38, 39; 8:14-18; 10:44-48; 11:15-18). v7: Luke doesn’t give us a precise number of the men involved. He says, “And there were in all, about twelve men.” 

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