Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Rest of the Story

Acts 18:18-28

When I went into high school, I was coming from a small parochial school.  At the parochial school, I had been in the advanced math, so the high school counselor put me in the advanced math class.  The problem was, advanced math at the parochial school was not as advanced as it was in the public school.  I went from beginning algebra concepts to advanced algebra.  Needless to say, that first quarter in math was a bit of a disaster for me; however, I was understanding somewhat.  My mom sent me to a tutor for a few months to fill in the gap that I had missed from not taking algebra.  It was amazing what a difference that made for me because suddenly equations and theorems that I didn't fully understand made perfect sense and I could understand how to solve problems more effectively.  The verses I am looking at tells of a similar idea for a man named Apollos who learned the rest of God's story.  As I mentioned yesterday, I am starting a new study on the book of Ephesians.  In order to start it with a better understanding of the church in Ephesus, I am reading about Paul's missionary journey to Ephesus.  Please turn to Acts 18:18-28 to read about Paul's first visit to Ephesus and about Apollos.

Paul's first visit to Ephesus happened because it was a stop on the way to Syria.  One thing that I noticed is that even though this was not a city he was acquainted with, he stopped in the synagogue to share about Christ.  It seems as though the Jews were willing to listen and wanted him to stay longer, but Paul needed to go on and he left the believers that had been traveling with him in Ephesus.  I just want to pause for a moment here because I think it is important to acknowledge that even though this was not a purposeful visit to Ephesus for Paul, he took advantage of the opportunity to share Christ with others.  We will see later how his willingness to visit with the Jews in Ephesus changed their community.  Never underestimate the opportunity to plant a seed somewhere; God will use it!

These verses tell us that Priscilla and Aquila stayed in Ephesus and found a man named Apollos.  Apollos was a man who believed and wanted to see others around him believe in God.  Verse 25 really stuck out at me as I was reading this story; it says, "He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism."  Apollos was excited and taught with accuracy; however, he only knew part of the story.  This verse also had me digging a little deeper, because I wanted to understand what was meant by "John's baptism."  As I looked up the word in Greek, I learned that "John's baptism" represented the repentance of sin and pointed to Jesus. But when Jesus came and sacrificed Himself, this baptism became obsolete.  Baptism in Jesus signifies the washing away of our sins.  I also learned that there are several Greek word that can be translated "baptize," but they don't all signify the change that happens when we are baptized in Christ.  Blue Letter Bible (1) explains that it is the difference of immersing or dipping something that creates a temporary change verses baptizing and causing a permanent change - such as pickling vegetables.  A cucumber is "dipped" in water first, then it is "baptized" in vinegar, causing a permanent change.  The baptism of Christ uses the word, baptism that causes permanent change, signifying that we are no longer the same person.  So, while the baptism of John also uses a word that signified permanent change and required us to change since we are repenting, Christ's baptism makes us new.

Priscilla and Aquila explained the difference to Apollos and he learned the rest of the story.  He learned that when we are baptized in Christ, we are cleansed from our sins and we receive the Holy Spirit.  It is not just a repentance of sin and we change our ways, we are cleansed and made new.  We are never the same person when Christ touches us!

Have you allowed Christ to make a permanent change in your life?

(1) Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for baptizō (Strong's 907)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 29 Aug 2011. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G907&t=NLT >

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