A learned Jew of Alexandria, and colaborer of Paul. Of him the following is told (Acts xviii. 24-28): He came (about 56) to Ephesus, as "an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures," to preach and to teach in the synagogue; and his fervor of spirit and boldness of speech attracted theattention of Aquila and Priscilla—Jews who had espoused the cause of the new Christian faith in Corinth. They found him not sufficiently informed in the new doctrine; for he knew "only the baptism of John" when he spoke to the people of "the way of the Lord." So they expounded the way of God to him more fully; and, turned into a firmer believer in Jesus as the Messiah, he went to Achaia, where he converted the Jews to his new faith by his arguments from Scriptures. This is illustrated by another story which immediately follows: While Apollos was still at Corinth, Paul found in Ephesus about twelve disciples of John the Baptist who had never heard of the Holy Ghost, but had undergone baptism for the sake of repentance. Paul succeeded in baptizing them anew in the name of Jesus; and then, after "Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied" (Acts xix. 1-6).
The sect, then, to which Apollos, as well as these twelve men of Ephesus, belonged, were simply Baptists, like John; preaching the doctrine of the "Two Ways"—the Way of Life and of Death—as taught in the "Didache," the propaganda literature of the Jews before the rise of Christianity. They were thenceforward won over to the new Christian sect probably under the influence of such ecstatic states of mind as are described here and in the writings of Paul.
Whether Apollos belonged to the class of thinkers like Philo or not is, of course, a matter of conjecture. But it is learned from Paul's own words (I Cor. i. 10) that while working on the same lines as Paul, Apollos differed essentially from him in his teachings. Four different parties had arisen there: one adhering to Paul, another to Apollos, a third to Peter, and the fourth calling itself simply "of the Christ." "Who, then," says he, "is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered . . . we are laborers together. . . . Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise. . . . Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's" (I Cor. iii. 5-23). Evidently Apollos betrayed more of that wisdom which Alexandrian philosophers gloried in. Wherefore, Paul contends that "not with wisdom of words" (I Cor. i. 17) was he sent to preach the gospel. . . . "The world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom" (ib. 21, 22). Originally the people of Corinth were, according to I Cor. xii. 2, not Jews, but Gentiles. It is, therefore, easy to understand why Apollos' preaching appealed to them far more than Paul's. Still, the difference between the two "apostles" (I Cor. iv. 9) was not of a nature to keep them apart; for Paul, toward the close of his letter to the Corinthians, says: "As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you: . . . he will come when he shall have convenient time" (I Cor. xvi. 12). We have reason to ascribe to Apollos some influence in the direction which led to a blending of the Philonic Logos with the Jewish idea of the Messiah—a Hellenization of the Christian belief in the sense of John's Gospel; though many critics since Luther are disposed to attribute to him the Epistle to the Hebrews.
- Weizsäcker, Das Apostolische Zeitalter, p. 268;
- Blass, Commentary on Acts, pp. 201, 203;
- Friedländer, Der Vorchristliche Jüdische Gnosticismus, 1898, p. 37.