A Teachable Spirit

Bible Reading: Acts 18:24-28; Proverbs 9:9

Acts 18:26 says, “And they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” 

There is an old proverb, “He who knows not and knows not he knows not: he is a fool – shun him. He who knows not and knows he knows not: he is simple – teach him. He who knows and knows not he knows, he is asleep – wake him. He who knows and knows he knows, he is wise – follow him.” From a Biblical perspective, the quote needs some amending, “He who knows and is teachable because he realizes there is a lot more he needs to know: he is the truly wise man–listen to him.” From a spiritual perspective, no matter how much we know, there is always room to grow. 

Apollos was a man who knew much. He was a “native of Alexandria” who had come to Ephesus. Alexandria was founded by and named after Alexander the Great. It grew to become a great commercial center where East met West and both Jews and Gentiles lived. The Alexandrian Museum, a university, was founded in 280 BC and became the first great university in the world. It was in Alexandria, amidst the influence of the Museum and its library, that the Jewish scholars produced the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament). Apollos was from such a place, a place which birthed men like Philo (a great Jewish scholar) and Clement and Origen (early church fathers). 

Apollos was “an eloquent man” (Acts 18:24). The term translated “eloquent” means “learned, a man skilled in literature and the arts…He had stores of ‘learning’ and could use it convincingly” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). In contrast to the disciples (Acts 4:13), Apollos had benefited from an education. He was “competent in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). “He had been instructed in the way of the Lord” (Acts 18:25). He was “fervent in spirit” (Acts 18:25). He taught with enthusiasm; his heart was in it. “He spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:25). There was no error in Apollos’ teaching. All he said was true, but “he knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25). He was unaware of the baptism Jesus had commanded after His resurrection (Matthew 28:19). Knowing only “the baptism of John,” he was unaware of other pertinent and important post-resurrection truths. 

Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos’ teaching in the synagogue. They had spent much time with Paul (Acts 18:1-4, 11) and were very knowledgeable of the truth. They heard Apollos speaking with boldness, but they discerned something was amiss. That could have been the end of the story—count the man a heretic and work to steer others away. But that’s not what they did. They intervened. They “took him aside” (Acts 18:26). They did not rebuke him publicly. They did not embarrass him by calling him out publicly. They conferred with him privately “and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Apollos was obviously receptive to what they had to say, for they sent a letter ahead to where he was going, instructing “the disciples to welcome him” (Acts 18:27). “When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed” (Acts 18:27). He served and ministered in other venues. Priscilla and Aquila were used by God to help him to be better equipped to serve the brethren. 

Paul shared truth with Priscilla and Aquila, who then imparted what they knew to Apollos, who then passed on what he had learned to others (2 Timothy 2:2)! It ought to be in the heart of every believer to endeavor to know “the way of God more accurately.” No one fully knows all there is to know. We are ultimately dependent upon the Spirit of God to know at all (1 Corinthians 2:12-13) and mutually dependent upon the Spirit and one another to know Jesus better (Ephesians 4:15-16). A teachable spirit is prerequisite to the process. 

“A humble and prayerful spirit will find a thousand things in the Bible which the proud, self-conceited student will utterly fail to discern.”J C Ryle


Open my eyes that I may see
glimpses of truth thou hast for me.
Place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear,
and while the wave notes fall on my ear,
ev’rything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mouth and let me bear
gladly the warm truth ev’rywhere.
Open my heart and let me prepare
love with thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my mouth, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain, preaching on occasion, and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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