There are people in just about every church you attend who serve as the backbone of that church. They are devoted to the Lord and great workers in the church. Often they are people that don’t say much in public, but behind the scenes are constantly working to make a difference for good. Aquila and Priscilla were that kind of couple. We don’t really know when they became disciples of the Lord. It could have been in Acts 18 when Paul got to know them and worked alongside them as tent makers. But they may have been Christians already when Paul met them. It is even possible they were among the Jews who came to Jerusalem on Pentecost and heard Peter preach to the multitude. They could have been among the 3,000 converted to Christ at that point. But as Jews they had been run out of Rome and were in Corinth when Paul met them.
They became devoted friends of his from that point on. When Paul left Corinth they went with him but stopped in Ephesus for a while as Paul traveled on. While they were worshiping with the church in Ephesus a man named Apollos came to visit. He was an eloquent man who was well versed in the Old Testament Scriptures and preached powerfully about Jesus, proving from the Scriptures that he was the Christ. I can imagine how thrilled they were to hear him preach the word. He was making new disciples by being there. But it didn’t take long for Aquila and Priscilla to recognize that while Apollos was very knowledgeable, he was mistaken on some very basic matters of truth. He knew only about the baptism of John and not the baptism of Christ.
In many ways the two baptisms were very much alike. They were both immersion in water, both based on repentance and both for the remission of sins. But John’s baptism didn’t have some things that the baptism of Christ did have. John’s baptism was based on one believing on the Christ who was to come, while the baptism of Christ was based on believing in Christ and being committed to living for him. John’s baptism was looking forward to the kingdom, but the baptism of Christ put one into the kingdom (John 3:3-5). John’s baptism wasn’t into Christ or into his death while Christ baptism did both. In Romans 6:3-5 Paul asked “do you not know that as many of you as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore you are buried with Christ by baptism into death that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father you also should walk in newness of life.” Since John’s baptism wasn’t into his death, it obviously wasn’t into his resurrection either and Christ baptism was into both.
Imagine Aquila and Priscilla talking about Apollos after they had heard him a few times. He may have said to her, “Did you notice what Apollos said about baptism today? I don’t think he knows about Christ’s baptism. What do you think we should do?” She may have suggested they invite him to their house the next week. It is a wonderful testimony for both Aquila and Priscilla and for Apollos that when they asked him to come to their house and told him of the error in what he was teaching he believed them, repented of what he had been teaching and changed his teaching to match the truth they taught him.
What if Apollos had been a proud man confident in all he believed and had reacted with arrogance when they approached him? It would have led to more and more people hearing him and learning only part of the truth. When Paul came to visit Ephesus he found 12 disciples whom he asked if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed. When they said they hadn’t even heard if there was a Holy Spirit, he immediately asked them about their baptism. When one is baptized on the basis of their faith and repentance they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. They hadn’t received the Spirit or even heard of him so Paul knew something was wrong with their baptism. When they told him they had been baptized with John’s baptism he informed them they needed to be baptized into the baptism of Christ and rebaptized them into Christ.
Apollos had been taught better before he left Ephesus, but he wasn’t able to undo all he had taught before Aquila and Priscilla took him aside and taught him better. Any time one who preaches or teaches the word has an mistaken view or inferior understanding of the message of God it results in people believing things that aren’t right and may mean that even their obedience to God wasn’t right.
It took courage for this good couple to take a talented, well trained preacher aside and teach him more clearly the way of God. They could have ignored the problem and waited for Paul. They could have made a scene at a worship service and have divided the church as a result. They could have put him on the spot so he felt the need to defend what he believed. But they took him aside, talked to him alone, quietly and showed him the truth without trying to evade the problem. Thank God Apollos was a man of humility ready to learn from people who had lesser knowledge and lesser ability than him.
I wonder how many mistaken preachers through the years could have been saved for the cause if others had learned from Aquila and Priscilla and have quietly taken those aside to talk to them when they are mistaken on some point instead of embarrassing them in front of the world. We need many more couples like Aquila and Priscilla who are willing to sacrifice their time and effort to correct the one who preaches the gospel. We also need men like Apollos who are humble enough to listen when brethren try to tell him where he is wrong about something. They turned Apollos into a far more effective teacher and preacher. There is no telling how many thousands of people were reached by Apollos through the years because Aquilla and Priscilla cared enough to speak up with love.