The following is adapted from Lasting Impact’s 2/19/19 Online Apol Meeting, taught by Matthew Harper. If you are looking or searching for growth… it’s not too late to join our second semester club. The Online Club meets every other week, building apologetics skills. Students do not need to be competing to join. Below, is what was covered week one. Meetings are recorded.
The story of Apollos is often overlooked in the broader context of Acts, but it contains several powerful truths that all apologetics speakers (and speakers in other categories) can utilize. In Acts 18:24-28, we find classically-trained Apollos proclaiming the truth in an Ephesian synagogue: “24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.” (Acts 18:24-28, ESV)
Here are four principles we as speakers of truth can draw from this passage:
Speak the truth well
Apollos was well-trained, eloquent, and passionate. He was a good orator, and he meant what he said. As proclaimers of the Gospel, we need to be eloquent and “competent in the Scriptures,” or we will not be able to discern truth from error. Too often, Christians emphasize content over elocution, when in fact the two should work together. Paul says in 1 Corinthians that “we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” This does not mean that we speak poorly, but rather that we know from where our power comes – the Lord, our rock and our redeemer. We are merely jars of clay that the Lord has chosen to proclaim His truth, and He calls us to do it well.
Apollos spoke the truth boldly in the synagogue, even though he didn’t have the full picture. How do we get boldness? In Acts 4:23-29, when the followers of Christ were experiencing intense persecution, they did not pray for their own safety, but instead they asked for boldness. The Lord gladly granted it to them.
Pray for boldness, and then when the Lord gives it to you, act on it. Spend deep, intimate time with the Lord. Know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Additionally, the Lord can give us boldness through familiarity with the truth, as well as practicing our presentation of it. When you practice apologetics, you’re really developing a skill for use in the kingdom of God, not just at a tournament. Practice your speaking, and don’t be afraid to ask for honest feedback from your family and friends.
However, despite his passion, Apollos was not telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. When someone is speaking inaccurately or without the full story, take them aside and speak to them gently. It may be that he or she just doesn’t know any better, and it’s always better to assume the best of the person you’re listening to. If you’re in the position of Priscilla and Aquila, instruct with kindness. If you’re watching a friend’s apologetics speech and they say something incomplete or slightly inaccurate, gently take them aside after they’re done and show them in Scripture where they could expand or rethink what they spoke on.
When you speak, take correction kindly and sincerely. Speak accurately, and come under the authority of those who know Scripture better than you, but always make sure to run what they say by Scripture. Don’t assume your interpretation of a particular passage is necessarily correct – always be willing to investigate parallel Scripture passages to illuminate a confusing one.
Speak for the Lord
This is not the last time we see Apollos in Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 3:4-9, Paul mentions him as the waterer of the seed of evangelism, likening Apollos and himself to gardeners and God to the harvester. In evangelism, some of us will be planting a seed, others watering it, but it’s the Lord who reaps the harvest. In apologetics, your job is to teach the Scriptures accurately, but you are not responsible for the effect it has on your hearers. The word of the Lord will not return to Him void, and He will use your speech in any way He desires to.
In apologetics and all other speech categories, speak the truth, proclaim it boldly, articulate it accurately, and do it for the Lord and not for the praise of others! Like Apollos, be willing to receive correction, and always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within you.