< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Ministry with Others - Part 3

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ministry with Others - Part 3

So, Paul was a tentmaker. Rabbis were expected to have a trade, to support themselves and making tents allowed Paul to travel with his business and also talk to people while he worked. This is a good example for us to bring God into our daily lives. Into everything we do.

Think through one of your days. Think how in a chore, a job, a relationship, a conversation or a letter, you can glorify God by reflecting Him, by sharing Him, by serving or encouraging someone.

There’s a great story about Suzanne Wesley, mother of 17 children including John and Charles, who used to put her apron over head and the children knew when she did that she was having quiet time with God and they weren’t to disturb her. What an example she set for her children!

Paul used his tent making as an informal classroom for gospel instruction. But, formally, he taught in the synagogue. And the Bible says he would argue there to convince Jews and gentiles. This showed it wasn’t easy. This was a tough crowd. They were hard to convince. The message he was telling them was: Jesus was the Messiah, the Messiah had to suffer and Jesus, the Messiah, rose from the dead.

The Corinthians had mostly been pagans, so they wouldn’t have known the Old Testament, which meant they knew nothing about God’s personal character. His moral standards for humanity and for His people in particular.

So Silas and Timothy eventually joined Paul and when he left Corinth after about 18 months, they stayed on. Aquila and Pricilla accompanied Paul. He wanted to go to Jerusalem to attend some festivities. He hadn’t been there in a long time and he wanted to stop and visit old friends in Antioch. They stopped in Ephesus for a short while and Aquila and Pricilla ended up staying there to minister to the Ephesians. The Bible stays with them there to tell the story of Apollos.

Apollos arrived at Ephesus as a preacher. He was a Jewish convert from Alexandria, known for his eloquence and burning enthusiasm. Alexandria, Egypt was the 2nd most important city in the Roman Empire at this time and had 600,000 people, including 150,000 Jews. Its library housed 700,000 volumes and epitomized the learned culture that thrived in the city. Some scholars think Apollos wrote the book of Hebrews, while others thought it might have been Barnabas. Apollos had a “learned” style of preaching which appealed to a lot of people, especially the Greeks.

Sometime during Jesus’ life, Apollos had visited Judea and come under the influence of John the Baptist and was baptized. But, while he was very familiar with the Old Testament, he didn’t have a full understanding of the Gospel. He knew nothing of Pentecost or the Holy Spirit. Or the true meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus. So the Bible says in verse 25, his baptism was “only the baptism of John”. It wasn’t of the spirit.

A lot of people today, especially certain denominations argue about baptizing people as babies. Since they aren’t making any kind of a choice for themselves. Some churches look at infant baptism as a dedication and then confirmation is when the child commits.

When Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos preach they realized his knowledge was incomplete, so they took him aside and told him the whole story. This in another good example for us. They didn’t hesitate to instruct him, but they also didn’t confront him in front of a lot of people, or talk about him to others behind his back.

Before this, Apollos had been brilliant, learned, eloquent and dedicated, but after Aquila and Priscilla talked to him, he was born again with the Holy Spirit and was empowered and eager to share his experience.

And that’s what Christianity is. Not knowledge, but an experience and a relationship.

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