“For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.”
Acts 18:28 (NIV)
Political public debate is often about how someone may advance himself or herself in the arena of power. Traditionally, however, debate provided a means through which skilled and sometimes not-so-skilled orators would contrast ideas, hopefully without losing their cool and without attacking his or her opponent. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that “those who cannot understand how to put their thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of debate”.
When you read the New Testament, you get the impression that Apollos did not shrink from speaking up in debates, and Acts 18 is a striking example of this. Apollos, who hailed from Alexandria in Egypt, had arrived in Ephesus, where, a short time before, Paul had reasoned with the Jews about how the Christ (the Messiah) was Jesus.
Apollos was an “eloquent man” (verse 24 ESV), implying that he was an impressive public speaker, but he did not understand the Gospel fully. Paul had left Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus, and when they heard Apollos speak “boldly” in the synagogue, they “took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (verse 26 ESV). The response of Apollos to their instruction is noteworthy. He let his new understanding strengthen his arguments in support of Jesus. Thus, as we see in the leading scripture, he refuted the old ideas and teachings of the Jews “vigorously”, and in all of this, he did not point to himself but to Jesus, proving that Jesus was the Messiah, and helping those who “through grace had believed” (verse 27 ESV).
We may not be involved in some public debate about our faith, but sometimes we engage in discussions about what and who we believe. Let’s take a lesson from Apollos, letting ourselves be more accurately informed as necessary, refuting false ideas about Jesus, and not advancing ourselves in any way but advancing the truth of who Jesus is.
Holy Father, help us, through your Spirit, to advance the truth of who Jesus is. In Jesus’ name.
Study by James Henderson
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