Apollos’ legacy viewed

Mentioned eight times in the New Testament, Apollos is an intriguing figure who played an important role in the spread of Christianity and may even have been the anonymous author of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
Relatively little is known about him because, like Barnabas, he stayed mostly in the background, accepting a subordinate role to the Apostles Peter, Paul and John.
Acts 18:24 and 27 say, “Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth and an eloquent man, came to Ephesus and was mighty in the scriptures.
“He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately. When he wanted to go to Achaia, the brethren wrote the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace.”
Apollos is also cited in First Corinthians 1:12, 3:4, 3:6, 4:6 and 16:12 and in Titus 3:13, where Paul asks the disciples “to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos so that nothing is lacking for them” en route to Nicopolis, the capital of the Roman province of Epirus Vetus in what is now western Greece.
The Rev. Todd Salzwedel, minister Mike Vestal and the Revs. Wayne Keller and Ron Hankins say Apollos is a good example of the efficacy of conquering one’s pride.
“He takes on the mantle of being a servant rather than seeking recognition, which is in line with Paul’s teachings,” said Salzwedel, pastor of the First United Methodist Church.
Salzwedel said Apollos was probably trained in both the western and eastern philosophies of the First Century with the eastern’s being more about the array of possible answers that there were to any given question. “Hebrews 11 talks about faith and says it is being sure of what you hope for and not of what you see,” he said.
“So at the very least, Apollos appears to be one of the disciples who edited some of Paul’s letters to convey his thoughts more accurately.”
Vestal said Apollos showed humility in Acts 18:26, where Aquila and Priscilla “invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.”
“He was willing to be instructed,” said Vestal, minister of Westside Church of Christ in Midland. “He didn’t look down his nose at a Christian couple who were simply trying to help him.”
Quoting Hebrews 2:3, which says Christ’s message “was attested to us by those who heard,” Vestal said, “As to the human penman of Hebrews, Apollos is an understandable possibility.
“I don’t think it could have been Paul primarily because it seems that the author was a second generation Christian. Apollos is a fascinating character. Alexandria was one of the great cities of the world and was known for its huge library.”
Keller said Apollos’ work at Corinth in south-central Greece is noted in First Corinthians 3:6, where Paul says, “I planted the seed and Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”
“So Apollos was a willing servant at whatever level God asked him to serve,” said Keller, interim coordinator of the Basin Baptist Network of 10 churches. “We know a lot more about Paul than we do about Apollos or Barnabas, but Apollos was such a skilled and trained person that God could use him to reach folks whom someone of lesser training might not have been able to reach.
“I’m not firm about it, but it is possible he wrote Hebrews. He wasn’t satisfied to lie back on the couch and philosophize. He shows a strong conviction in his relationship to Christ.”
Hankins said some scholars have doubted Paul’s authorship because the style of Greek in Hebrews, considered the New Testament’s best, was different from Paul’s.
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek.
Noting that German theologian Martin Luther (1483-1546) advocated Apollos, Hankins said, “Luther argued that the man who wrote Hebrews was certainly a man like Apollos in both thought and background.
“Christian theologian Tertullian (155-240) suggested that Paul’s companion Barnabas might have authored the letter,” said Hankins, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. “Barnabas was a native of Cyprus, whose people were famous for their spoken excellence of the Greek language.
“Of all the men in the New Testament, Barnabas had the closest knowledge of the priestly sacrificial system on which the thought of the letter is based. But there continue to be many arguments as to who could have authored this nameless exposition of how Jesus Christ is the clear and only pathway to God.
“In the words of Origen Adamantius of Alexandria 1,700 years ago, ‘Only God knows who wrote Hebrews.’”