Which is a more important requirement for the minister of the gospel?
Comparing revelation and eloquence can be understood by studying about Paul the Apostles’ ministry to the Corinthians in comparison with Apollos’ ministry.
The bible tells us that Paul went to Corinth (Acts 18:1) and there reasoned every week with both Jews and Gentiles to persuade them about Christ (Acts 18:4). Sadly, the response was disappointing. The bible says:
Acts 18:5-6 “….Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. BUT when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
His ministry was opposed. The Jews at Corinth became violent…and so he left.
Then a man comes on the scene. He is described with qualities that were never used to describe Paul. His name was Apollos:
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, AN ELOQUENT MAN, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. – Act 18:24 (KJV)
NIV puts it this way: “Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a THOROUGH KNOWLEDGE of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and HE SPOKE WITH GREAT FERVOR and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John“. Acts 18:24-25
This guy knew scriptures (the Old Testament). He could probably quote most of them by heart. He was also a great speaker. Even Paul admitted to the Corinthians later:
“…when I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.” – 1 Corinthians 2:1
Interestingly, Apollos seemed to have more ‘results’ persuading the Jews than Paul. The bible says; Act 18:28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
So…the Jews had troubles believing that Jesus was the messiah the law and prophets (the Old Testament) spoke about. But this eloquent man put his thorough knowledge of the scriptures to work to persuade many of them, and did so successfully.
But there was a little issue. See for yourself;
Act 18:25 “…he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, KNOWING ONLY the baptism of John.”
He knew Christ was the messiah. He knew Christ was to die and save the world from sin (as John taught, John 1:29 ). But post redemptive realities, which are the real backbone of the Church, he didn’t know.
How deficient was his theology? We know that he had been to Ephesus before Paul (see Acts 18:24, Acts 19:1). Yet, Paul met certain disciples at Ephesus and the following conversation transpired;
“He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.” Acts 19:2-3
John’s baptism? Very likely, they had been under Apollos. Yet they said: “We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost”. How sad.
This great eloquent preacher was ignorant of some really foundational truths of the new covenant. Apollos needed help and he got some;
Act 18:26 “…whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them,and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly”.
Paul’s disciples, Aquilla and Priscilla had to teach Apollos a few things.
It’s the same today- even though eloquence, intelligence and diligence will gain you remarkable attention in ministry, we must remember that attention and crowds are not definitions of success in ministry. Rather, that people under your ministry come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ is! People were Paul’s definition of success. He says:
2 Cor 3:1 – “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?
Well, we know that Apollos used letters of commendation (Acts 18:27). Could Paul have been referring to (among others) Apollos in particular? Very likely. But the point here is, Paul won’t need letter of recommendations himself. Instead he said:
2 Cor 3:2 – Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
The effectiveness of Paul’s ministry was witnessed in the people he had raised.
This is why I’d rather be under a not-as-interesting preacher like Paul, get bored as he teaches and fall of a window (as Eutychus did in Acts 20:9) than be excited and thrilled under Apollos every week with no real transformation in my life.
Again, let me re-state that we need not be either eloquent or teach with revelation knowledge. We can be both. But if I had to choose…revelation it is…any day. It should be the same for you.
Remember to read;
REVELATION OR ELOQUENCE? Choosing the Minster to Follow (Part 1)
Pastor Emmanuel Iren
Pastor Iren Emmanuel is the lead pastor of Celebration Church International, a church which envisions a people whose lives are in Christ, for Christ with Joy. The church presently has 3 branches; Silverbird Cinema, Ikeja. Temperance hall, Bells University, Ota and Benin City. Reach him on Facebook: Iren Emmanuel