Acts 18:25
This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
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(25) This man was instructed in the way of the Lord.—Better, had been instructed. The verb is the same as that used in Luke 1:1 (where see Note), and was afterwards used technically in the form of Catechumen to describe the status of a convert preparing for baptism. The “way of the Lord” is used in a half-technical sense, as in the phrase “those of the way” (see Note on Acts 9:2), as equivalent to what, in modern speech, we should describe as the “religion” of Christ.

And being fervent in the spirit.—The noun is obviously used, as in the identical phrase in Romans 12:11, for the spirit of the man, not for the Holy Spirit of God.

He spake and taught diligently.—Better, he was speaking and teaching accurately. Both verbs are in the tense which implies continuous action.

The things of the Lord.—The better MSS. give, “the things concerning Jesus.” We ask in what the teaching, which is thus described as accurate, was yet defective. The position of Apollos at this stage was, it would seem, that of one who knew the facts of our Lord’s life, and death, and resurrection, and had learnt, comparing these with Messianic prophecies, to accept Him as the Christ. But his teacher had been one who had not gone beyond the standpoint of the followers of the Baptist, who accepted Jesus as the Christ during His ministry on earth. The Christ was for him the head of a glorified Judaism, retaining all its distinctive features. He had not as yet learnt that “circumcision was nothing” (1Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 5:6), and that the Temple and all its ordinances were “decaying and waxing old, and ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13).

Knowing only the baptism of John.—The words are full of interest, as showing a wider extent in the work of the Baptist, as the forerunner of the Christ, than is indicated in the Gospels. Even at Alexandria, probably among the ascetic communities of the Therapeutæ, whose life was fashioned upon the same model, there were those who had come under his influence.

18:24-28 Apollos taught in the gospel of Christ, as far as John's ministry would carry him, and no further. We cannot but think he had heard of Christ's death and resurrection, but he was not informed as to the mystery of them. Though he had not the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, as the apostles, he made use of the gifts he had. The dispensation of the Spirit, whatever the measure of it may be, is given to every man to profit withal. He was a lively, affectionate preacher; fervent in spirit. He was full of zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of precious souls. Here was a complete man of God, thoroughly furnished for his work. Aquila and Priscilla encouraged his ministry, by attendance upon it. They did not despise Apollos themselves, or undervalue him to others; but considered the disadvantages he had laboured under. And having themselves got knowledge in the truths of the gospel by their long intercourse with Paul, they told what they knew to him. Young scholars may gain a great deal by converse with old Christians. Those who do believe through grace, yet still need help. As long as they are in this world, there are remainders of unbelief, and something lacking in their faith to be perfected, and the work of faith to be fulfilled. If the Jews were convinced that Jesus is Christ, even their own law would teach them to hear him. The business of ministers is to preach Christ. Not only to preach the truth, but to prove and defend it, with meekness, yet with power.This man was instructed - Greek: was catechised. He was instructed, in some degree, into the knowledge of the Christian religion. By whom this was done we have no information.

In the way of the Lord - The word "way" often refers to doctrine, Matthew 21:32. It means here that he had been correctly taught in regard to the Messiah, yet his knowledge was imperfect, Acts 18:26. The amount of his knowledge seems to have been:

(1) He had correct views of the Messiah to come - views which he had derived from the study of the Old Testament. He was expecting a Saviour that would be humble, obscure, and a sacrifice, in opposition to the prevailing notions of the Jews.

(2) he had heard of John; had embraced his doctrine; and probably had been baptized with reference to him that was to come. Compare Matthew 3:2; Acts 19:4. But it is clear that he had not heard that Jesus was the Messiah. With his correct views in regard to the coming of the Messiah he was endeavoring to instruct and reform his countrymen. He was just in the state of mind to welcome the announcement that the Messiah had come, and to embrace Jesus of Nazareth as the hope of the nation.

Being fervent in the spirit - Being zealous and ardent. See the notes on Romans 12:11.

Taught diligently - Defended with zeal and earnestness his views of the Messiah.

The things of the Lord - The doctrines pertaining to the Messiah as far as he understood them.

Knowing only the baptism of John - Whether he had himself heard John, and been baptized by him. has been made a question which cannot now be decided. It is not necessary, however, to suppose this, as it seems that the knowledge of John's preaching and baptism had been propagated extensively in other nations beside Judea, Acts 19:1-3. The Messiah was expected about that time. The foreign Jews would be waiting for him; and the news of John's ministry, doctrine, and success would be rapidly propagated from synagogue to synagogue in the surrounding nations. John preached repentance, and baptized with reference to him that was to come after him Acts 19:4, and this doctrine Apollos seems to have embraced.

25. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord … knowing only the baptism of John—He was instructed, probably, by some disciple of the Baptist, in the whole circle of John's teaching concerning Jesus, but no more: he had yet to learn the new light which the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost had thrown upon the Redeemer's death and resurrection; as appears from Ac 19:2, 3.

being fervent in the spirit—His heart warm, and conscious, probably, of his gifts and attainments, he burned to impart to others the truth he had himself received.

he spake and taught diligently—rather, "accurately" (it is the same word as is rendered "perfectly" in Ac 18:26).

Instructed; catechised, or taught, viva voce. In the way of the Lord; Christ, who hath by his precepts and example tanght us the way to happiness.

Fervent in the spirit; very zealous to promote God’s glory, and men’s salvation, as Romans 12:11.

Knowing only the baptism of John; who baptized with water, but could not baptize with the Holy Ghost, Matthew 3:11; that is, they had not those extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost which followed upon baptism after that Christ was ascended, and the Spirit poured out, Acts 2:4. But John was a preacher of repentance, and of faith in Christ, pointing at the Lamb of God; and he baptized his disciples into this doctrine; which is the same with the baptism and belief of the apostles afterwards; only now they knew many things more fully than were revealed in the Baptist’s time.

This man was instructed in the way of the Lord,.... Which John, whose baptism he only knew, came to prepare: the word here used signifies "catechised"; and suggests, that he was trained up by his parents in this way, who might have been the disciples of John, though afterwards removed from Judea to Alexandria; and that he only had been taught the rudiments of the Christian religion, or doctrine of the Gospel; here called the way of the Lord, or which directs and leads unto him, as the only Saviour, and is the path of faith and truth; or as some copies read, "the word of the Lord"; and which accounts for what is afterwards said of him:

and being fervent in the spirit; either in or by the Spirit of God, being made so by him, who is, compared to fire, and who, in the form of cloven tongues of fire, sat upon the disciples at the day of Pentecost, and upon others; among whom this Apollos is by some thought to be, though without any reason; however, he might be inspired with zeal by the Spirit of God: or "in his own spirit", as the Ethiopic version renders it; his soul was inflamed with zeal for the glory of God, the honour of Christ, and the good of souls; his ministry was very affectionate, warm, and lively; see Romans 12:11 He spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord; or "of Jesus", as read the Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions; according to the measure of light and grace he had received, he spake out freely and fully, and taught the people with great industry, and with all the exactness he could, the things he knew concerning the person, offices, and grace of the Lord Jesus:

knowing only the baptism of John; which must be understood, not of the ordinance of baptism singly, as administered by John, but of the whole ministry of John; as of that ordinance, so of his doctrine concerning repentance and remission of sins; and concerning Christ that was to come, and concerning his being come, and who he was, whom John pointed at, and taught the people to believe in: but perhaps he might know very little, if anything, of the miracles of Christ, or of his death and resurrection from the dead, and the benefits and effects thereof; and of the pouring out of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles, and the light and knowledge which were communicated thereby.

This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
Acts 18:25. Κατηχημένος τ. ὁδ. τ. Κυρ.] Apollos was instructed concerning the way of the Lord (i.e. concerning Christianity as a mode of life appointed and shaped by Christ through means of faith in Him, see on Acts 9:2) doubtless by disciples of John, as follows from ἐπιστάμ. μόνον τ. βάπτ. Ἰωάννου. How imperfect this instruction had been in respect of the doctrinal contents of Christianity,[89] appears from the fact that he knew nothing of a distinctively Christian baptism. He stood in this respect on the same stage with the μαθηταί in Acts 19:2; but, not maintaining the same passive attitude as they did, he was already—under the influence of the partial and preliminary light of Christian knowledge—full of a profound, living fervour, as if seething and boiling in his spirit, i.e. in the potency of his higher self-conscious life (ζέων τῷ πνεύματι, see on Romans 12:11), so that he ἘΛΆΛΕΙ ΚΑῚ ἘΔΊΔΑΣΚΕΝ ἈΚΡΙΒῶς ΤᾺ ΠΕΡῚ ΤΟῦ ἸΗΣΣῦ. What had reference to Jesus, to whom as the Messiah John had borne witness, was naturally that concerning which he had in his Johannean training received most information and taken the deepest interest. He must have regarded Jesus

His historical person—actually as the Messiah (not merely as a precursor of Him, Baumgarten), which Bleek erroneously denies, contrary to the express words of the passage; but he still needed a more accurate Christian instruction, which he received, Acts 18:26. The incompleteness and even the lack to some extent of correctness in his Christian knowledge, made him, with his might in the Scriptures and fervour in spirit—which latter was under the control of the former—not incapable to teach, according to the measure of his knowledge, with accuracy[90] concerning Jesus, although he himself had to be instructed yet ἀκριβέστερον, Acts 18:26 (in opposition to Baur and Zeller, who find here contradictory statements). In a corresponding manner, for example, a missionary may labour with an incomplete and in part even defective knowledge of the way of salvation, if he is mighty in the Scriptures and of fervent spirit.

ἐλάλ. κ. ἐδίδ. are simply to be distinguished as genus and species; and ἀκριβῶς, exactly, receives its limitation by ἐπιστ. μόν. τ. β. .

ἐπιστάμενος μόν. τ. βάπτ. Ἰωάννου] although, etc. The view, that by this an absolute ignorance of Christian baptism is expressed, is incredible in itself, and not to be assumed on account of John 3:26. Notwithstanding, the simple literal sense is not to be interpreted, with Lange (apost. Zeitalt. II. p. 260), as though Apollos was wanting only in “complete Christian experience of salvation and maturity;” but, inasmuch as he did not recognise the characteristic distinction of the Christian baptism from that of John, he knew not that the former was something superior to the latter (Acts 19:3-4); he knew only the baptism of John.[91]

[89] Erasmus, Paraphr.: “hic Apollos erat semichristianus.”

[90] Not to be taken in a subjective sense; carefully (Beza and others), which the comparative in ver. 26 does not suit.

[91] Comp. Oertel, Paulus in der Apostelgesch. p. 28 f.

Acts 18:25. See critical note on the proposed omission of the verse and reading also in .—κατηχ., cf. Luke 1:4, “taught by word of mouth,” R.V., margin; . adds ἐν τῇ πατρίδι, and Blass holds that we may learn from this that some form of Gospel teaching had already been known in Egypt. But how far had Apollos been instructed? It is commonly held that he only knew the Baptism of John and nothing further, and that he was imperfectly acquainted with the facts of our Lord’s life. But he is said to have taught accurately (ἀκριβῶς) “the things concerning Jesus” (see critical note), and not only so, but, as Blass also points out, the mention of the twelve disciples at Ephesus has previously been taken to mean literally that these men were disciples of the Baptist, and had never heard of Jesus, whereas the words used to describe them, μαθηταί and πιστεύσαντες, are never used except of Christians. What is the conclusion? That whilst Apollos, like these twelve men, was acquainted with no other Baptism than John’s, he may have known quite as much of our Lord’s words and deeds as was contained in the Gospel of St. Mark in its mutilated form, Acts 16:8, which tells us nothing of Christian Baptism. And if we further ask from what source did Apollos gain this accurate information, Blass answers: “videlicet non sine scripto aliquo Evangelio”. If, he urges, it had been otherwise, and Apollos had been instructed by some disciple of the Apostles and not through a written Gospel, the position of things in the text would be reversed, and Apollos would have been imperfectly acquainted with our Lord’s life and teaching, whilst he could not have failed to know of Christian Baptism as the admission to Christian churches. Blass therefore believes that before the year 50 (he places the Conference in 45 or 46) written Gospels were to existence, and he evidently leans to the belief that St. Marks Gospel, or some first edition of it, was the Gospel from which Apollos was instructed (see in loco, and cf. also Philology of the Gospels, p. 30). But the word κατηχ. on this view must be taken not to include but to exclude, at all events mainly, a reference to catechetical teaching, and this from the use of the word in the N.T. is most unlikely. In the majority of the cases, as Blass admits, the word denotes oral teaching, although he maintains that this meaning is not always strictly kept. In the N.T. the word is used only by Luke and Paul, altogether eight times, in six of which it is used with reference to oral instruction, according to Mr. Wright: “Apollos: a study in Pre-Pauline Christianity,” Expository Times, October, 1897 (but see also in answer, Blass, Philology of the Gospels, p. 31). Mr. Wright suggests that Apollos may have derived his knowledge of “the facts concerning Jesus” from one of the many Catechists who were sent out from Jerusalem, and visited in large numbers the capital of Egypt, and by him Apollos like Theophilus was instructed in the way of the Lord. This view certainly gives an adequate meaning to κατηχ., but still it seems strange that a Catechist, even if his chief business was to catechise or instruct in the facts of the Gospel history, should say nothing about Christian Baptism; surely a Catechist would himself be a baptised member of Christ. It is possible that Apollos may have deliberately decided to abide as he was; he may have said that as the Master Himself had fulfilled all righteousness in John’s Baptism, so that Baptism was sufficient for the servant. But on this view one has to suppose that no news of the events of Pentecost had reached Alexandria, although Egyptian Jews had been present at the feast. But the news which Apollos may have received had been imperfect, cf. Acts 19:2-3, and he had not therefore abandoned his position as a follower of the Baptist, who accepted the teaching that Jesus was the Messiah without knowing fully how that claim had been fulfilled, who had been baptised with the Baptism of the Baptist unto repentance without knowing the higher blessings conferred by membership in the Body of the Risen and Ascended Lord: see further Expository Times, vol. vii., pp. 564, 565; Hermathena, xxi. (1895); Weiss and Zöckler, in loco.—ἐλάλει καὶ ἐδίδασκεν: Blass prefers ἀπελάλει, which Wright, u. s., p. 11, renders “repeated by rote”.—ζέων τῷ πνεύματι, cf. Romans 12:11, this fervency was shown not only in speaking what he knew, but in teaching it to others, cf. Acts 18:11, where the same word is used of Paul’s instructions. We can scarcely take ἐλάλει as privatim, ἐδίδασκεν publice (Bengel).—ἀκριβῶς: “accurately,” so often in classics, and as agreeing best here with this verse and the comparative in Acts 18:26; on the use of the word in medical writers see Hobart, p. 251; Weiss, Meyer’s Kommentar, Luke 1:3, also compares the similarity between St. Luke’s phrase and Galen’s dedication of his work to a friend (he also finds a parallel in Jos., C. Apion., i., 10); see also below on ἀκριβέστερον and its employment by Dioscorides. The word occurs in Luke twice, Luke 1:3, Acts 18:25, and elsewhere in Matthew 2:8, and twice in St. Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, Ephesians 5:15, whilst ἀκριβέστερον occurs four times in N.T., and each time in Acts, cf. Acts 18:26, Acts 23:15; Acts 23:20, Acts 24:22.

25. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord] Nothing is gained by pressing the tense of the original into the “had been instructed” of the Revised Version. If he had been instructed he consequently was instructed. The word for instructed is that from which comes the English “catechize.” Hence it implies a course of teaching distinct from his own study of the Scriptures. We know from Josephus (Antiq. xviii. 5. 2) that the teaching and baptism of John produced great effect among the Jews. We need not therefore wonder at finding among Jews at Jerusalem and Ephesus men who had accepted the Baptist’s teaching about Jesus. But in considering such cases we must remember where such instruction as they had received would stop short. They would know that John baptized in preparation for the coming of the kingdom, they would have heard that he pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God, being certified thereof when He came to be baptized. But when John was dead and the life of Jesus was brought to a close on Calvary, except the few of John’s disciples who had joined the followers of our Lord, none would know of the way in which the foundations of the heavenly kingdom were laid, none would understand the institution of the Sacraments, nor the sending down of the Holy Ghost, nor the teaching of repentance, and of the gift of salvation to the faithful through grace. Of these things John had known nothing, and we must not forget in our attempt to estimate his work and its effects, that there came to himself a day when he sent to Christ to ask “Art thou He that should come?” (Matthew 11:3.)

and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught carefully the things concerning Jesus] These variations from the A.V. are warranted by the best texts of the original. As “the spirit” intended is Apollos’ own it is better to omit the article. The adverb rendered “carefully” indicates the accuracy with which he proclaimed all that he had been taught. “The things of the Lord” seems to have been the suggestion of some one who did not understand the plain statement of the text. In the previous expression “the way of the Lord” we have only the Old Test. words (Isaiah 40:3) quoted by the Evangelists concerning John’s preaching. (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3.) There may have been some timidity felt about the further statement that Apollos taught the things “concerning Jesus,” and so the reading of the early part of the verse was brought in here also. But after what has been said above we can see how this Alexandrian Jew might publish with the utmost accuracy all that John had proclaimed about the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven, and enforce it from his own studies of the Old Testament Scriptures, he might declare how John had pointed to Jesus, and might even relate much of the works and words of Christ, as an evidence that God was sending greater prophets than they had known for long, and that therefore Christ’s life was a testimony that redemption was near. All this he might know and preach most carefully, and yet lack all that further knowledge which Aquila and Priscilla imparted.

knowing only the baptism of John] In this sentence we have the solution of any difficulty which there may seem to be in the verse. He knew nothing of that other baptism, which is the entrance into Christ’s kingdom, and therefore he could merely be looking forward for the fulfilment of the prophecies, and the power of his teaching would consist in the zealous way which he published that the voice of God in His older Revelation proclaimed Messiah’s advent very near.

Acts 18:25. Τῷ Πνεύματι) He had the Spirit, not in that special way which is treated of in ch. Acts 19:6, but in an ordinary way.—ἐλάλει, he spake) in private.—ἐδίδασκεν, taught) in public.—ἀκριβῶς, diligently) suffering no opportunity to pass. There follows in Acts 18:26, more diligently, ἀκριβέστερον.—μόνον, only) There is not excluded all knowledge of Christ whatever: but Apollos had not yet heard concerning the death and resurrection of Christ, and concerning the Paraclete: ch. Acts 19:2-3.

Verses 25, 26. - Had been for was, A.V.; spirit for the spirit, A.V.; carefully for diligently, A.V.; things concerning Jesus for things of the Lord, A.V. and T.R.; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him for whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, A.V. and T.R.; carefully for perfectly, A.V. Knowing only the baptism of John. It is difficult at first sight to conceive how at this time any one could know the baptism of John without knowing further that of Christ. But a possible account of it is that Apollos living at Alexandria, where as yet there was no Christian Church. had met some Jews who had been in Judaea at the time of John's ministry, and had heard from them of John's baptism and preaching, and of his testimony to Jesus as the Messiah, but had had no further opportunity of careful instruction in the faith of Jesus Christ till he happened to come to Ephesus and make the acquaintance of his compatriots, Aquila and Priscilla. They hearing him speak with fervor and eloquence, but perceiving that his knowledge was imperfect, immediately invited him to their house, and instructed him in the fullness of the truth of the gospel. This necessarily included the doctrine of Christian baptism, which we cannot doubt was administered to him (John 1:33; Acts 1:5; Acts 2:38). Acts 18:25Instructed

See on Luke 1:4.

Fervent (ζέων)

Fervent, which is formed from the participle of the Latin ferveo, to boil or ferment, is an exact translation of this word, which means to seethe or bubble, and is therefore used figuratively of mental states and emotions. See on leaven, Matthew 13:33.

Diligently (ἀκριβῶς)

Rather, accurately; so far as his knowledge went. The limitation is given by the words following: knowing only the baptism of John. See on Luke 1:3; and compare the kindred verb, inquired diligently, Matthew 2:7, where Rev. renders learned carefully.

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