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Acts chapter 18:18 to 28 Dedication to the work of the Lord - Paul and Apollos

The dedication to the work of the Lord: two stories

Paul Returns to Antioch

18 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. 19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing." And he sailed from Ephesus.

22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch. 23 After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

Ministry of Apollos

24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; 28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

Introduction

There are two different themes in today's passage, covering two different people and their ministries. Doing a book verse by verse, and divvying up passages gets us this, rather than purposefully allocating these two specific passages. However, rather than going verse to verse, we can look at the context and lessons of each passage, seeing how the Word of God is not random text, and though our passage may have different headers in various versions, the theme, the thrust, the lessons to be learned are singular, though having different branches.

Paul

First we have Paul and what Paul was up to next. Interestingly, this passage covers hundreds of miles of travel, and possibly weeks of time. Luke has compressed this part of Paul's ministry to a minute amount of detail, barely pencilling it in as it were. We start in Corinth where Paul had stayed a good time, maybe for a year and a half, maybe longer, certainly not less than this. Some of the key issues and preaching that Paul had completed in that location can be found when we read the two letters to the Corinthians. He then heads for Syria, then Ephesus, Caesarea, down to Jerusalem, and then somehow, Luke does not tell us whether he walked, rode, or sailed and walked back up to Galatia and Phrygia; places way back up in the middle of what we now know as Turkey (depends on the route - 930-1000 kilometres from Jerusalem).

First, I would like to make a couple of points about suppositions found if we look at some of the commentaries. First suppositions written about the vow and the hair cut. Some mention a Nazarite vow, others, say it wasn't. Scripture however does not define it for us. It does not matter. Did it cause him to hurry to Jerusalem within 30 days as some suggest. I don't know, Scripture does not tell us, however, we know that this was not a principle taught as something for the Christian to do by Paul or anyone else, and to have to go to Jerusalem to finalise a vow as is suggested by some. The interpretation seems to indicate a problem with understanding the difference between the Jewish customs and that of Christianity. However, the bottom line – this point is not important in making a doctrinal statement, rather it is a statement about Paul and his relationship with God. Vows are discussed here and there and are best left for a discussion on these types of symbolic things. Another supposition is that of the feast that Paul mentioned. Again, the actual feast is not important, and why Paul had to get there is neither here nor there as well, though various commentators name the feast, or make some fact about which there is none. Perhaps it was the best time to catch up with as many people as possible in one place. Again, commentators make up reasons for no reason, apart from wanting to tie up what may appear to be loose ends, but really the matter is there to set a context for the hurry.

The sense of urgency Paul had is more important than the exact reason why, and to which feast it was. He had spent over a year on one place, now it was time to go and report (remember no phones back then), catch up with fellow Christians, and continue to encourage the new Christians across the regions. Therefore, we saw that his actions consistently matched an urgency, going from place to place to ensure the gospel as planted earlier, and the truth's taught by himself and his team, were being upheld. He went from place to place to encourage the new Christians, to help them grow, to help them be strong, to encourage the church; for a vibrant church brings forth Christians who are active in the faith, not just amongst themselves, but in the wider community. Matthew Henry summarises this well: While Paul found he laboured not in vain, he continued labouring. Our times are in God's hand; we purpose, but he disposes; therefore we must make all promises with submission to the will of God; not only if providence permits, but if God does not otherwise direct our motions. A very good refreshment it is to a faithful minister, to have for awhile the society of his brethren. Disciples are compassed about with infirmity; ministers must do what they can to strengthen them, by directing them to Christ, who is their Strength. Let us earnestly seek, in our several places, to promote the cause of Christ, forming plans that appear to us most proper, but relying on the Lord to bring them to pass if he sees good.[1]

We also see that James being lived in Jerusalem. I trust we all remember what James taught having studied it this year (2014)! - especially those couple of short words: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only (James 1:22). We tend to be 'one church' people. We come to church, we sit comfortably, we hear the word being preached, we sing and participate in communion, and that is that. A few travel and help those young churches or churches with few in number, not many. Is this a criticism? Maybe? And yes, one would agree: And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12). But how many of us read the word 'some' to actually mean,' someone else'! How long have we got in life. We saw this week a public figure cut down in his prime of life, aged just 25[2] and another at 84 drowned after falling from a boat[3]. Neither knew their end was that day.

Paul knew he had a timeline, but he too did not know what God had planned for him. He knew that he had plenty to do and not much time. He did not waste a second. Obviously Corinth needed him there for the year and a half, but then, as soon as he knew that it was time to move elsewhere, he did not look around and decide this is a nice spot. He would have had some close friends there by then, a social group, people he felt comfortable with, shops he would have known, places of quiet to escape to. But Paul left all of that for the work given to him to do. Note that we have seen throughout this book Paul did not usually get a travel direction from God. At times he sets out for a place and God stops him, or gave him a dream that directed him, but on the whole Paul acts and God works with that action. It is a step of faith. I too can't speak on this about myself, I too have this - stuck in one place, and not seeing my place as a travelling preacher, but one has to wonder, are we doing what God wants, really, or just working around the peripheries?

We note in this passage that Priscilla and Aquila leaves Corinth and move to Ephesus. This faithful couple are also moving from a city they have lived a while, where they were converted and willingly set up a house church in their house, to Ephesus to do the same there. Interestingly, when Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, he writes: Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house (Romans 16:3-5). We also see them in Ephesus with Timothy Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 4:19). Neither tells us where they were, but it is interesting that the letter to Rome also greets them, however, with Paul in Rome writing to Timothy, it is thought that Timothy at the time was in Ephesus. No matter, it is reasonable to note that this couple were travellers for the Lord; they must have at some stage gone to Rome, a place that Aquila had lived previously, though Acts 18 notes that the Aquila came from Pontus, a place on the Black Sea in modern Turkey. Perhaps the previous wanderlust that appears to be present gave them impetus to continue this when converted. Whatever, they stepped out for the Lord, and as we saw in the Roman's mention, they risked their necks for the lives of both Paul and other Christians. It is a point worthy of thought.

Somehow I think that we need to really look hard at our lives and determine if we are where we are because it is nice, safe, and convenient, or whether we are here because God wants it that way for us, or if we should be elsewhere. We also can use this passage to highlight the state of today's churches. We tend to be segregated, split or independent. Orthodox churches have power structures, and are governed, yet this is not what Paul is doing. We read that he was strengthening all the disciples. Paul was not the only one doing this as we read in the New Testament texts of Peter, Silas, Luke, Timothy, John, and Titus amongst others. It is good to meet with other Christians and have times of fellowship – in the Word. Once a year conferences would be a good starting point, but we can also consider how we share and strengthen one another, ensuring we are not just working within the one assembly, where various power bases, established leadership, and ways of thinking become entrenched. I believe this, and Acts as a whole tells us that the state of today's churches are sad in this respect, and gathering of the saints is a useful and beneficial thing. Even in Old Testament times, there were seven period s during the year, three specifically, where Israel came together and feasted, and worshiped, and sacrificed together, a large gathering. Colossians 3:16 comes to mind: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

We get stale, having the same old same old, as we are human, and we tend not to live as we should all the time, so even with the Holy Spirit at work in us, I find going to a large gathering of saints, where the Word is spoken, and discussion had, not just a single speaker, but a number of people discussing Scripture in a group, is so refreshing. Home groups are good, but I believe that those who say that home groups need to form and reform at regular intervals, with changes in the makeup of each group, with young and old mixing, is a good thing – so long as it is done with prayer, and allowing God to work, not because of whims, or disagreements amongst folk. This may be stretching our context today, but this passage brought me into these thoughts. I would argue that it bears thinking about.

Another point to note is two words 'God willing' in our passage in the context of whether Paul would return to Ephesus as he rapidly travelled on towards Jerusalem. It is something you see a lot of in the old Christian's writing when talking of something future. It is a phrase I have heard most in the old traditional Brethren type circles. Sometimes it is abbreviated into its Latin – DV or Deo Volente. We tend to make plans, make promises, and not include God in the equation. Some may think this quaint or old fashion, but there is some Scriptural basis to consider this to become part and parcel of our commonly used phrases. The most obvious is the story as found in Luke 12:

"The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops? ' So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." ' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? ' (Luke 16-20)

The statement 'if God wills' also ensures we put our own lives into reasonable perspective. What if God does not want us at the wedding, holidaying in Italy, or turning up at church tomorrow? Woe betide the big plans if we forget God. However, we also at times fail to consider the other alternative.

The tragic death of cricketer Phillip Hughes this week is a case in point2. Life is not fixed like a beam in concrete. It is fragile, uncertain, a blade of grass on a hot day, as Scripture puts it. Do we live each hour as if it is our last? Not morbidly so, that is not the point, but ensuring that every moment counts for God, so if God wills, we may either be at the planned location, or wherever it is that God wants us. This may be heaven. This may be the last day for all Christians on the planet.

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

There are so many circumstances; car crash, lightning strike, heart attack, infection, random violence. We do not dwell on death rather we dwell on that which God wills in our lives. As we make plans we pray, as we tell someone our plans, we pray, we offer them the plan, we remind them that it will be as God wants. More likely than not, it will happen. Sometimes it doesn't. Lorraine never expected to not be at work for more than eight months. But that is what God willed. Tom and Beth expected to be in the UK for another month, but that is not what God willed. Look around the room, look at all the things in our lives. God willed, we cannot plan absolutely for anything. Using such an expression allows us to remind ourselves of the reign of God in in hearts and lives. It reminds us that He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent the three 'omni' words that we do well to remember when thinking of God.

Omnipotence describes the powerful nature of God. We find an example of this in Hebrews chapter one - who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3). The 'word of His power' is a key descriptor here. The other passage that really spells this out for us is: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:1-4).

If God wills – if God speaks something else other than what we wish for, what power have we against the creating mighty power of the Son? Omniscience is: having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight and possessed of universal or complete knowledge. Isaiah gives us a clue into this characteristic of God: Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counsellor has taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding? Nothing in the universe is unknown to God, not one atom, or quark, or scrap of radiation. God knows everything, all the time, infinitely. Finally, in brief, omnipresent. present in all places at all times[4]. Psalm 139 is the most familiar passage for me that explains this: where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.(Psalm 139:7-10) We cannot hide from God. We have no place where God is not, anywhere within the universe. Turning out the light does not deny God a view.

Why is this important? God wills – because he is all three omni's plus a myriad of other characteristics. We do well to remember this, every time we make a plan, a promise, a decision.

Apollos

Let us move to the introduction of Apollos. We find a cosmopolitan context again, as we have seen before, and during the Roman Empire (much like now) people travelled. Apollos came from Alexandria – on the African continent in northern Egypt. He came to Ephesus in Turkey, having known the baptism of John, therefore, had been in Israel at some stage, at or before Jesus' ministry, but had obviously moved on by the time Jesus became established. Apollos was Jewish, but we do not know the status of the man, except he was eloquent and well-studied in the Scripture, which of course was in the Old Testament only.

This opener gives us some life hints. If people wrote of us, as individuals, would they say, for example, Stephen is eloquent and mighty in Scriptures. Somehow I doubt it – I know it would not be said! Eloquence is a gift really, though one may become competent in speaking with practice and discipline. On the other hand, though some are smarter than others, really, there is no excuse in modern society as not to become 'mighty in Scripture'. One can get Scripture spoken, dramatized, word for word as a documentary style (the gospels and other parts). We can read or listen to commentaries, and so forth. There are thousands and thousands of sermons online these days, and amongst them there are the mediocre through to the mighty sermons. So long as we are as the Bereans were, as we learned not so long ago, then with discipline and effort, each one of us can become mighty in Scripture. It goes back to our priorities and where we spend our time. Is it more important to see the Sunday afternoon game of football, or cricket as in the summer, or spend that time listening to, reading, or watching Scripture being spoken or taught? I am as much at fault as any other man. I come home from work and find it easier later in the evening to watch some trash on TV than study. In the weeks I have to preach or prepare the Bible study for home group are fruitful weeks, what I do could be eternally useful, whereas on other weeks, not one iota of what I spend the evening time on will become a gemstone in heaven, it will be burned, and be seen as wood, hay, straw, [for] each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).

So, lesson one, the Apollos was someone that God could use, and we know that he did as later on some were so impressed they did not see past the man to the God he spoke of, formed their own following claiming to be of Apollos, for which they were soundly rebuked by Paul (1 Corinthians 3).

We then see that Apollos was able to teach accurately the things of the Lord. So, though he had not been discipled by Jesus, was not baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus, he was able to teach Jesus as found in the Old Testament. When we have knowledge, remembering our previous caveat that not all are teachers as such, we need to pass that knowledge on at our level of gift, to our children, neighbour, brother, sister, parents, whomever it is that God has for us to teach. But, we need to do it accurately. We do not need to know everything, and every doctrinal argument to be found, and then some, as some are want to do. In fact, there are some who over-teach, argue and discuss stuff that is not edifying to the average person, or useful in this life or the next. Does it matter the exact nature of the New Jerusalem, or the nature of the new heaven and earth? It matters that Jesus was perfect in every way, and any rubbish about Him marrying Mary and having children in France is to be firmly denounced. However, Apollos was not afraid to speak of the Lord. We too should never be afraid to speak of the Lord, or those things we know, which is why the first part is important, we need to KNOW Scripture. Like understanding fine coffee, cheese or wine, studying, testing, tasting, comparing notes with others, all this is important, as it is, and more so, for the study of Scripture is eternal. Therefore, we need to be able to teach accurately.

The other half of the Apollos story is that of being teachable. Often scholars and academics are so sure of themselves, they think they know it all. Each one of us, especially those of us who stand here and preach on a Lord's Day morning must be teachable. Apollos knew of the Lord, and knew the Old Testament very well, in fact the language used intimates he knew Scripture exceptionally well. But for some reason, when he arrived in Ephesus he had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, therefore, had not accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. Luke does not go into details, he just wasn't. Perhaps he had been back in Alexandria and in the backwoods somewhere. Whatever the reason, his education was incomplete. Each one of us, no matter our age, have an incomplete Scriptural education. Paul writing to Timothy does not put a time frame on it:

…exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

Psalm 119 is full of such instruction, for example: Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on Your wonderful works (v27) and we cannot leave without a proverb: Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning (Proverb 9:9). Learning is and must be lifelong. If we find we are no longer learning, check our relationship with God, for the Holy Spirit will keep teaching if we keep right with God. Repentance may be required of something we have not sought forgiveness for.

How do we learn when we are not teaching the whole story, because maybe we have missed out something, or have not studied a specific doctrine, or passage? Today's text told us that: When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. A person may be teachable, but we all have sensitivities, some more than others. When one needs to speak to a brother or sister about a matter why do it in public where embarrassment may occur? Here we see that teachability also has sensitivity by the one providing the teaching. Apollos was willing to learn, and this brother and sister in the Lord took him aside; one may even conjecture that perhaps home for a meal and filled in for Apollos that which he was missing in his spiritual knowledge. We must never do it with a sense of self importance, but with humility - as seen in Ephesians: with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love (4:2)

Note as well in our text that two people sat down with Apollos, not just one. Two are always better than one, in all things like this. In the most extreme of cases, when you have something against an Elder, the Christian will meet Scripture if they: Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Sure, in our text, this is not rebuking an elder, however, the same standard applies. It is better for a couple of knowledgeable Christians to sit and help an individual than just one. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, but an interesting point we find in the passage. More useful is that both husband and wife sat with Apollos and taught him. We have to be very careful how we use Scripture, for Peter was talking of the silence of women in the assembly, the formal meeting, a correct interpretation and action, but was not speaking of the home or small group discussion as we see here. I think this is important for all women; one may join with your husbands in helping a believer with understanding the truth in greater depth. The responsibility though is also the same, and the need for knowledge is the same, there is no difference between man and woman in learning Scripture.

Why do I say Apollos was teachable? We read in the latter part of the text: And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace. Once he had learned the brethren were more than happy to write a letter of commendation. Second, Scripture records that he helped greatly those that had believed through grace. He taught the Jews about the man Christ Jesus, who he was, and why he was the Christ. Apollos had the whole truth now, and one would suspect that he had been baptised at Ephesus, though Luke does not write about this, maybe, because baptism was now established as a routine part of the salvation process. Again supposition, but probably a reasonable assumption. Apollos is more than willing to share his new knowledge along with that which he was well grounded in, the Old Testament. He taught vigorously against those who were not teaching the truth, or those that ignored the truth about Jesus.

One final point worth highlighting here. Why and how did Apollos catch on so well, (though we lack a time frame, but it would seem days to maybe months in Ephesus, certainly not years). I would say without hesitation, it was because he knew the Old Testament so well. So many Christians run around with only New Testaments. Thankfully, with electronic versions, you tend to get the whole Bible. Certainly in school we received small New Testaments, and without the right teachers like the Aquila and Priscilla's, we would not have read the Old Testament. Old Testament learning is crucial for every Christian who wants to vigorously defend the gospel to anyone, especially to such people as our Islamic friends. I mention them as they acknowledge Abraham and they know who Jesus is, but fail to connect the two men together and place them into their rightful place; one as a chosen one of God, the other the Son of God - God Himself as man. Sure, we can get an idea as to the gospel without knowing the Old Testament, but the riches of the Scripture as a whole is lost; the unimaginable treasury of Scripture is missing for those souls who fail to study all of Scripture from Genesis through to Malachi as well as Matthew through to The Revelation. Personally, I was so moved by our study of Malachi earlier in the year I have gone back to it, to try and understand in more depth its message to today's church, even though it was prophecy and a message to the priesthood of the Jews four hundred years before Christ. The Old Testament has so much to offer.

Concluding remarks

Let us finish then by looking at how both of these passages, which sit one after the other in the Bible, fit together. One point we need in our conclusion is that both men were travelling from point to point helping their fellow Christians grow in the gospel and the Word of God. Apollos immediately went from Ephesus to Achaia, to further the understanding of the Word amongst the people there. We read later: I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Though out of context as to why these words are written, in themselves they show how Paul was church planting, Apollos was following up and encouraging and building the saints. We need to consider as the Church, and certainly as members of the Body of Christ, as to how we ourselves ensure that encouragement and building up of the saints are taking place. I believe that we can do much more, even amongst ourselves, especially in the context of extraneous days of getting together and searching Scripture, outside of Lord's Day services, or home groups, which on the whole are poorly attended.

We see that the husband and wife team worked together, Paul had various companions, and he had an arrangement with Aquila and Priscilla leaving them at Ephesus whilst going to Jerusalem. Here we see, though predominantly men, Priscilla was not an exception. Throughout the New Testament women are mentioned as being part of active ministry, in teaching and spreading of the gospel, in supporting one another, especially women with needs. Again, it is about getting out there and being doers of the Word.

Apollos was commended, Paul spoke about the will of God when planning his movements. We cannot just go off willy-nilly. We need to have a purpose, we need to have direction. To do so we can have encouragement and letters of commendation from the brethren, and we also look to God, and what he wants. Perhaps God will shipwreck us on an island where we need to stay a few months, as Paul did on Malta. Perhaps we need to get to Jerusalem to meet with fellow Christians at a feast, for fellowship, reporting and encouragement of ourselves. No matter the journey, we pray and present it to God, where able, with our brethren, as a united fellowship in Christ.

'God willing' must become part of the normal Christian vernacular. We must remember that no matter our plans – and we still plan - God may or may not be willing. We must remember that God is in control, so no matter the circumstance, no matter whether what is happening seems to be good or bad, our omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God is there, with his plans. We therefore, remember that Jeremiah wrote:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. (Jeremiah 29:11-12)

We also find in Ephesians 2:10: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. We find that Paul and Apollos knew this in their hearts. They walked the way the Lord wanted them to walk, and did the work that God had for them. Apollos needed to learn more, and was teachable, and once taught, spread the message. Paul did the same, for he too started off a Jew, knowledgeable in Scripture, though unlike Apollos, not knowledgeable in the Lord Jesus, but was converted, was taught, spend three years in the University of the most high God in the wilderness, and went out spreading the Word, coming back to Jerusalem to the apostles for confirmation of doctrinal points, and assisting others, including even Peter in the right ways of Christian doctrine as needed (see Galatians 2:11-21).

As Christians we have much more to learn, even on the day before we go to be with the Lord, we will have much to learn. We must learn all of scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. We must be teachable, willing to receive correction, or knowledge from those that know more, but we must also teach others in a way that does not embarrass or cause offence. It is often best to take one aside and sit with them, and mentor them when they need further instructions. When we have the knowledge we must teach and spread the gospel to those the Lord places in our path, be it on the mission field or in our own homes. We must encourage and strengthen the saints, both in our own fellowship and elsewhere, so we must be willing to gather together, maybe have food, almost certainly have communion, and definitely conversation about the things of the Lord, outside of times we normally meet, to enable this to happen more frequently and readily. Communion between the saints appears to be a thing of priority for both Paul and Apollos. It was a matter of urgency to get out there and be amongst the saints across the huge regions that he had previously been too. Sure, it is harder today with our splinter groups, and sectarian ways, yet Paul never said, do this until 305 AD then do not bother, the pattern is reasonable for us today as well. Besides, with today's transport options, and electronic media devices, getting the message out there is so much easier. I think that our two passages can be best summarised with Scripture itself with these verses: but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ–from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

[1] Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible http://biblehub.com/commentaries/acts/18-22.htm (Accessed 14 December 2014) – can be found in various other locations

[2] Phillip Hughes (1988 – 2014) An Australian first class cricketer killed while playing a game in November 2014 – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillip_Hughes and other sites for details.

[3] An elderly passenger aboard the Sun Princess cruise ship presumed drowned after going missing a day before the vessel was due to return to Sydney following a 13-day cruise to New Zealand. 26 November 2014 – see ABC News 25 November 2014 (Accessed 14 December 2014)

[4] Merriam Webster Dictionary online  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/omnipresent (Accessed 14 December 2014)

Stephen Simon 29 November 2014
\Acts\Acts 18 verses 18 to 28 Dedication to the work of the Lord (SBS)