|Volume 21 Number 7 July 2019||
Brian R. Kenyon
Apollos was a great preacher who “spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord,” yet he “knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:24-25). Within the scope of his knowledge, Apollos effectively taught the truths of Jesus, but his understanding was limited to the teachings of John the Baptist. The “baptism of John” can represent the entire ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 21:23-27). Apparently, Apollos had not learned the Gospel as a reality (Acts 2:22-24). We can probably assume that Apollos did not yet know of the Pentecost events or the significance of the connection between the Holy Spirit and “Great Commission” baptism (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 12:13). He may have accepted Jesus as the Messiah without knowing the full extent of His Messianic achievement. He apparently did not know about the resurrection of Christ (Acts 19:4). Apollos stood in need of correction and further education.
Aquila and Priscilla’s Attitude
As Apollos spoke boldly in the synagogue, Aquila and Priscilla knew he had not been grounded in certain matters of the faith, such as “Great Commission” baptism (Acts 18:26). They took Apollos aside and taught him the way of God “more accurately [perfectly KJV].” The term “took…aside” reflects a concern, not to publicly call out Apollos as a false teacher but a genuine concern for Apollos to learn the truth. This incident in Acts 18:24-28 says much about Aquila and Priscilla. First, they, unlike some in the church today, knew that there was a difference between scriptural baptism and everything else that is called “baptism,” and they knew that the difference mattered (Hebrews 6:1-2).
Denominationalists often discount baptism by saying, “It’s only an external rite” or “It doesn’t matter, for God looks on the heart anyway.” Yet, Jesus said to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Second, this incident shows they loved Apollos enough to take the powerful preacher aside to teach him the truth more accurately. Though one can be eloquent, well-learned and enthusiastic, he still may need some correcting or further teaching.
It is interesting that Priscilla was also involved. In fact, her name appears first in many Greek manuscripts. This tells us that women can have a part in teaching others, even powerful preachers, and still remain in subjection to men (1 Timothy 2:8-15). Some things they may have taught Apollos were that Jesus had already died for sin, that He had been raised from the dead and that His kingdom was established and open to all who will obey (Acts 2:41, 47). Aquila and Priscilla definitely had the right attitude toward correcting their brother in the Lord!
This incident also says much about Apollos. First, even though he was eloquent, well-learned, and enthusiastic, he did not think too highly of himself to be beyond just criticism (Matthew 5:3-10). Often, men of his caliber do not take correction easily! Second, when taught the truth, Apollos readily accepted it. Following this incident, Apollos moved on to Achaia, where “he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:27-28). Third, many today (even preachers and elders) get upset when shown their knowledge is not as accurate as it should be, but Apollos seemed content to be corrected, realizing that he was a better Christian and preacher for it. Apollos definitely had the right attitude toward being corrected by his brothers and sisters!
Christians today, even preachers, are not always correct in what they teach. What is our attitude toward that? Do we have the genuine concern of Aquila and Priscilla to reach out and take such people aside to teach them more accurately? If our teaching were untrue, would we have the humility of Apollos to examine evidence and change our view? Only with the right attitude can the truth makes us free (John 8:32)!
The Total Solar
Eclipse Designed by God
David R. Kenney
A solar eclipse is when the moon is between the earth and sun. (A lunar eclipse is when the earth is between the moon and sun.) There are distinct types of solar eclipses: partial, annular, total and annular-total. There are 2-5 solar eclipses each year, but not all are viewable to us because of the rotational position of the Earth. What we witnessed on August 21, 2017 was a total solar eclipse. The last time one could observe a total solar eclipse in the United States was 1979, and the next solar eclipse to be viewable in the United States will be April 8, 2024. While I did not observe the eclipse, since my eyes are very sensitive to light, I did enjoy many pictures posted by friends on social media celebrating their view of this natural phenomenon. It sure was an exciting demonstration of God’s design of the universe!
The sun, earth and moon all travel an orbit. The moon travels around the Earth at 2,288 mph, and it completes an orbit in about 28 days (a sidereal month). The earth travels around the sun at about 67,000 mph in its orbit, and it completes its orbit in about 365.256 days (a sidereal year). The sun travels 483,000 mph in its orbit in the Milky Way Galaxy, and it is estimated to complete its orbit in about 225 million years (a cosmic year).
I was thinking about these rates of speed, time, orbits and the moments when these all align as I was looking at my wristwatch. My watch has an hour hand, a minute hand and a second hand. These hands all move at various rates of speed. Much like the solar eclipse, all three hands are in alignment at times (at noon and midnight.) Although the trajectories of some heavenly bodies are far more complex than one could capture on a wristwatch, I am constantly amazed at the intricate design of the universe.
It reminds me of William Paley’s classic argument for the existence of God based on design or the teleological argument. Although timepieces have been used in analogies by others, William Paley is generally attributed to be the one who popularized the watch/watchmaker analogy. Paley spoke of walking in the woods and his foot came across several stones that did not catch his notice. Then, he came across a watch! He admired the watch’s intricacies that produce motion, keep track of time and have interacting complex parts inside—wheels with teeth or gears. It is made of varied materials for differing purposes: glass—to see through; brass—to avoid rust; steel—to form elastic springs; etc. Paley then made this observation. “The inference, we think, is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker, that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction and designed its use.” (11.)
The apostle Paul wrote “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:20-21 NKJV). The solar eclipse that many people stared into the sky to see was yet another demonstration of His invisible attributes! Sadly, some will continue to refuse to see Him, even as they stare up at evidence before their eyes. There is an expression that rings true: “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Many were fascinated while watching the total solar eclipse of 2017. By God’s design, we knew the eclipse was coming, the pathway for viewing it and how long it would last. Where there is design, there must be a designer. When the design is so intelligent and intricate, the designer must be even more so! Great is our God!
Paley, William. Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity. London: Richardson & Co., 1821.