Commentary on the Gospel of
Acts 18:23-28; John 16:23b-28
When a biblical scholar meets a Christian couple
Alexandria during biblical times was not only a capital of Egypt but also a cultural center of a thriving Jewish community. The translation of Hebrew Scripture into Greek - the Septuagint - took place in Alexandria and became the Bible of the Church till the fourth century. It was also a native place of Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE - 50 CE), a famous Jewish scholar, the father of allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures. The city was also the birth place of one of the greatest Christian Bible scholar, Origen of Alexandria. From this center of biblical studies comes Apollos an eloquent speaker, and an authority on the Scriptures.
We meet Priscilla and Aquila for the first time in Corinth where Paul went after his ‘failure’ in Athens. This missionary couple, tentmakers by profession, played an enormous role in the young Church. They took Paul to their house (Acts 18:1-3), properly instructed Apollos in the Way of the Lord (Acts 18:24-26), and had a house church in their own house in Rome (Rom 16:3-5). Apostle Paul testifies that they even risk their lives for him.
What happens when a biblical scholar meets a committed and experienced Christian couple? What happens when intelligence meets experience, and head meets heart? Two things can happen. Pride may look down at an ordinary person, head may reject the testimony of experience. Or, wisdom realises that there is still more to learn and know. “New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New” (Saint Augustine). But, in order to discover it, one needs the Church to open our eyes to the hidden mysteries of the Scriptures.
Apollos already knew about the way of the Lord based on the baptism of John but he lacked a sacramental experience of dying to sin and living for God (Rom 6:3-4). He had already repented and believed in the coming kingdom of heaven (see Matt 3:2), but he still needed to be united to Christ in His death and His resurrection. One can presumed that Priscilla and Aquila baptised Apollos (see Acts 19:1-7). And when a biblical scholar becomes a Christian he can easily established from the Scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus (Acts 18:28).