By Mike Dawson
Interim Pastor, Santa Fe Baptist Church, Santa Fe
In 1653, an Englishman named Isaak Walton wrote The Compleat Angler. A contemplative fisherman’s guide, it went on to become the second-most republished book in the English language, next after the Bible. Walton’s old English spelling of ‘compleat’ has spawned many modern book titles. It seems to describe something stronger than complete: if someone is “the compleat (whatever),” he or she is the quintessential, the perfect example for practicing his or her craft. Today’s focal passage, Acts 18:24-28; 19:1-7 describes an individual — and a church group — that eventually became “compleat.”
Apollos: The “Compleat Christian” (Acts 18:24-28)
On his third missionary journey, the Apostle Paul met Aquila and Priscilla, a married couple who hosted him in their home in Corinth. When Paul left Corinth for Ephesus, “A & P” traveled with him. Then Paul sailed away, leaving Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus, with a major mentoring task before them: a dynamic traveling preacher named Apollos was arriving on the scene there. Notice some of Apollos’ characteristics:
He had a way with words. He was called “an eloquent man” in verse 24. Later in verse 26, we read that Apollos “spoke boldly,” with confidence and assurance.
He had a way with THE Word. Verse 24 also described him as “mighty in the Scriptures.”
He knew the way of the Lord. He had been instructed in ‘the way,’ his spirit was fervent in the way, and he taught others how to walk in the way (verse 25).
BUT he was “way off” in one area. Apollos “knew only the baptism of John” (verse 25). John the Baptist had prepared people for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom; he had taught a baptism of repentance. Leo Eddleman said of John, “What he knew was good. But he did not know the other baptism, the infilling of hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit, the resurrection power God uses when He saves men … the heavenly infusion at Pentecost.” This was where Apollos was ‘way off;’ he needed the baptism of fire — the baptism of JESUS!
He learned “the way of God more accurately” through guidance by Aquila and Priscilla (verse 26). They gently took Apollos aside and mentored him to become a ‘compleat’ Christian. NOW he could be commended by the church (verse 27). NOW he was able to “greatly help” the believers and to “vigorously refute” the resisters (verse 28). NOW he would “show from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (verse 28). Are you — and I — “compleat Christians,” fired with the Spirit?
Disciples in Ephesus: The “Compleat Congregation” (Acts 19:1-7)
While the new recruit (Apollos) was making disciples in Corinth, the old soldier (Paul) arrived back in Ephesus and challenged a group of believers there. He asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” This is the correct translation of Paul’s question. He wanted to know if they understood that the Holy Spirit came with their salvation. It turned out that they, like Apollos, had only known “John’s baptism,” and were not taught about the Spirit-filled life. Once instructed, they followed through, receiving believers’ baptism, and began living under the Spirit’s control, as the first believers did on the day of Pentecost. Is your church and my church — a “compleat congregation,” fired with the Spirit?