After spending some time there he departed and went from place to place through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately. And when he wished to cross over to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. On his arrival he greatly helped those who through grace had become believers, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus.
All peoples, clap your hands,
cry to God with shouts of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, we must fear,
great king over all the earth. (R./)
God is king of all the earth.
Sing praise with all your skill.
God is king over the nations:
God reigns on his holy throne. (R./)
The princes of the peoples are assembled
with the people of Abraham's God.
The rulers of the earth belong to God,
to God who reigns over all. (R./)
Jesus said to his disciples,
"On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
"I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father."
While John's gospel implies our total dependence on the Holy Spirit, in the Acts St Luke offers another dimension: our faith also needs guidance and encouragement from fellow human beings. Apollos was certainly on the way toward Christian discipleship and showed great goodwill, but he needed the help of others. This gifted Jewish intellectual was led to Jesus through the ministry of Priscilla and Aquila. Remarkably, the wife is named before her husband, which indicates the strong role of this woman in the early Church's ministry. Texts like this help us to appreciate the attitude of St. Paul toward women and the teamwork of married people in the Church's outreach.
Prisca and Aquila not only welcomed other Christians in Ephesus but served as educators in theology. To dialogue with someone as knowledgeable as Apollos and lead him beyond the message of John the Baptist meant that this husband and wife were well informed, capable of dialogue and open to insights from the Holy Spirit. Apollos was risking his renown as a Jewish preacher by venturing into a new mindset. He journeyed to conversion under the direction of Priscilla and Aquila. Evidently the Spirit is shared while people share their faith with one another. A community of faith grows when all are open to what the Holy Spirit will reveal.
Jesus exemplified this process of transformation. He must leave this world in order to send the Holy Spirit. This compares with the risks of leaving behind the tried and true, as experienced by Apollos. To belong to Jesus we need to fully surrender to the Father. On making such a gift of oneself we will realize where Jesus is leading us: "I have come from the Father, into the world. Now I am leaving the world to go to the Father."
Today's text from Acts describes the early Christians supporting and helping each other in the faith. Paul is shown strengthening the local communities, and we learn about Apollos, a very gifted man, being helped to a fuller faith in Jesus. A married couple, Priscilla and Aquila, befriended him and gave him further instruction in the faith, sharing their deeper understanding with him. Later, when Apollos decided to journey over to Corinth, the Christians in Ephesus encouraged him to do so. Realising how others could benefit from his gifts, they sent a letter of recommendation ahead of him to the church in Corinth.
When Apollos reached Corinth, his knowledge of the Scriptures was a great help to the believers there. The reading paints a wonderful picture of the church at its best - believers helping, supporting and encouraging each other in the faith, helping one another to grow in the Lord. This is what the church is called to be in every generation; this is the church in which the Spirit of Christ is alive and active. As we approach the feast of Pentecost we need to pray for an increase of the gift of the Spirit among us, as Jesus says, "Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete."