18 So Paul, having stayed on for many days, said good-bye to the brothers and sailed away to Syria. Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He shaved his head at Cenchreae because he had taken a vow. 19 When they reached Ephesus he left them there, but he himself entered the synagogue and engaged in discussion with the Jews. 20 And though they asked him to stay for a longer time, he declined, 21 but he said good-bye and stated, “I’ll come back to you again, if God wills.” Then he set sail from Ephesus.
22 On landing at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church and went down to Antioch. 23 And after spending some time there, he set out, traveling through one place after another in the Galatian territory and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
24 A Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was powerful in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught the things about Jesus accurately, although he knew only John’s baptism. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained the way of God to him more accurately. 27 When he wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers wrote to the disciples urging them to welcome him. After he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace. 28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
So Paul, having stayed on for many days, said goodbye to the brothers and sailed away to Syria. Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He shaved his head at Cenchreae because he had taken a vow.
In architecture, a major technological breakthrough in the building of cathedrals was the invention of the flying buttress. This invention allowed the building to let in more light, to be built taller, to expand farther than ever before.
The reason it was so successful was because of the problem of pressure. Walls that are built without buttresses have so much external pressure that they often collapse. Build a wall too high and it simply falls over.
Buttresses keep the wind from blowing the wall over.
Here in Acts, we read of how God is working in His church to support the structure. Scripture contains many building references. Jesus is the “Cornerstone.” We’re being built into something extraordinary (according to 1 Peter).
God knows that as we get hit by the wind, many of us fall over without support. And one person running everywhere to support the wall simply won’t do.
Here we have four people—Paul, Apollos, Aquilla, and Priscilla—demonstrating how to support and strengthen the Body.
Paul, who became a Christian, still maintained some Jewish practices. In this case, shaving his hair was an external feature of an inward vow that Jews would understand and relate to. It’s no accident that Paul then visited many churches.
Many get distracted by the vow Paul took. But that would be a mistake. The thing the author wants to highlight here is what Paul actually DID. He “strengthened the disciples.”
To view Paul as an individual who was interested in the product of selling Jesus is to misinterpret both Paul and evangelism. He was interested in helping others find new life. Once they found it, Paul was very diligent at fanning their flame of faith. He was a buttress to the believers.
At the same time, a person named Apollos was also teaching. Apollos was known for being articulate and charismatic. Paul didn’t have that same reputation. But both men held value in the kingdom of God.
Apollos met Aquilla and Priscilla, who functioned as a buttress to him. They instructed him (and he received that instruction), they sharpened him, and they encouraged him.
Apollos then functioned as a buttress for the believers in Achaia. And the believers there were grateful because the wind was blowing hard against them from Jews who could argue well.
We all need help in the faith. And the other small lesson here is that we are all called to help in the faith. This is why the believers encouraged and sharpened one another.
- Who is a buttress for you? How?
- Who are you a buttress for? How? How is it received?
- Apollos accepted instruction from believers who were less articulate and charismatic. Whom do you lend credibility to and why?
- In what ways is the wind blowing against your community of faith? What types of buttressing to do you need and in which areas?