The Baptism of John and the Fiery Believer Apollos


  [Excerpt from Rev. Prof. Dr. F.N. Lee’s M.Div. thesis Baptism Does Not Cleanse! (pp. 43-47)]

Not just Paul258 but also Apollos259 soon became an important leader in the Corinthian Church.  Earlier, Apollos the eloquent Alexandrian260 had listened to Aquila and Priscilla privately explaining the way of God to him more perfectly261 — while he was in Ephesus. 

Still earlier, before arriving there, Apollos was already "mighty in the Scriptures."262  For even  previously, he "had been catechized in the way of the Lord"; was "fervent in the Spirit"; and clearly understood and acknowledged or "knew the baptism of John."263  

All of this evidences that Apollos already had an adequate faith in Christ.   He was thus a Christian — even before receiving 'Johannine' baptism, and long before his arrival in Ephesus.264

[Even the Christian disciple Barnabas was never actually called a ‘Christian’ — until he arrived in Antioch.   Only there were the disciples first called ‘Christians.’   Yet surely, even before then, both Barnabas and all the other followers of Jesus (and many baptizees) really were Christians!]265

On Apollos, Calvin here comments:266 "He understood the teaching of the Gospel….  He knew that a Redeemer has been presented to the world….  He had been instructed properly and sincerely about the grace of reconciliation."   For he knew about the baptism of John!

Explains Calvin: "John was, so to speak, an intermediary between Christ and the prophets….  He went before, lighting the way for Christ, and gave a wonderful explanation of His power.  His [John’s] disciples are justifiably said to have had knowledge of Christ."  

Thus, Andrew and others who had been baptized by John previously and who had then followed Jesus — were never ever (re)baptized.   Neither by Christ Himself, nor by His apostles.267

Dr. Calvin continues268 concerning Apollos: "The statement that 'he knew the baptism of John' deserves attention.  For from this we gather what the true use of the sacraments is, viz. to initiate us into some particular kind of doctrine — or to establish the faith which we once embraced…. 

"What is this baptism of John?  Luke gathers up the whole of his ministry in this word.  Not only because doctrine is bound to baptism.  But also because it [doctrine] is its [baptism’s] foundation and head — without which it would be an empty and dead ceremony….

"Apollos is given the further commendation that he was inflamed with a holy zeal for teaching….  That man, who was not yet…completely instructed in the Gospel, preached Christ….   Luke attributes his fervour to the Spirit….  Apollos was urged on by…the Holy Spirit" — long before he first met Aquila and Priscilla.

The unitarians in Ephesus were regenerated before their Christian baptism by Paul

The Alexandrian Hebrew Christian Apollos had long been mighty in the Scriptures, fervent in the Spirit, and knowledgeable about the baptism of John — even before he arrived in Ephesus.   The indications are that he had already been baptized before reaching Ephesus, but that it was there that he learned the way of God more perfectly.   For only thereafter are we told he showed the Jews from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. 

Some take this as an indication that his own full conversion to Jesus Christ personally, was only post-baptismal.  In that case, the Romish thesis that he was converted by baptism — and the Lutheran thesis that he was converted during baptism — is thereby rendered more doubtful yet.

After Apollos had departed from Ephesus for Corinth, some unitarians arrived in Ephesus who had never even heard as to whether there is a Holy Spirit.  Surprisingly, they later told Paul they had previously been baptized "into John's baptism."

The Romish Church and others wrongly take this "John's baptism" to mean the baptism which had been administered by John the baptizer himself.   They also wrongly claim that the latter Johannine baptism was not Christian baptism, and that all those baptized with Johannine baptism still needed Christic baptism. 

If these claim were correct, they would establish quite clearly that nobody was regenerated during the administration of Johannine baptism.  The claims would then also imply the unlikelihood of anyone being regenerated during the somewhat similar Christic baptism (even if a different rite).  Yet in point of fact, Johannine baptism is essentially the same as Christic baptism.   Consequently, nobody was regenerated — during either Johannine nor Christic baptism.

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