New Wine and Old Wineskins
Acts 18:18- 19:7
– The transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant was a challenge for the Early Church, and this transitional period is illustrated by Luke by means of three examples:
I. The Apostle Paul (vv. 18-23)
1) Paul’s Nazarite Vow (v. 18)
a. Nazarite Vow was part of the Ceremonial Law of the Jews (cf. Numbers 6:1-21)
- Solemn vow to abstain from alcohol and to allow hair to grow (normally 30 days)
- Usually done to express thanksgiving to the Lord in a formal and public way
b. Why did Paul take this vow as a Christian?
- An expression of his Jewish culture
- A way to gain trust with Jewish skeptics, similar to the circumcision of Timothy (cf. 16:3)
2) Christianity and Tradition
a. Traditions are not wrong or sinful as long as they do not compromise the gospel
b. As long as the Temple was standing in Jerusalem, Jewish Christians maintained many elements of their culture
- Some practiced tradition with a clear understanding of God’s grace (ie. Paul)
- Others used tradition in a way that undermined God’s grace (ie. Pharisees)
Application: Unexamined traditions and ceremonies can easily lead us into legalism!
II. Apollos (vv. 24-28)
1) Early Ministry in Ephesus
a. Jew from Alexandria (Egypt)
b. An eloquent man, trained in Philosophy and Rhetoric – author of ‘Hebrews’??
c. Competent expositor of the Old Testament
d. Familiar with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as taught by John the Baptist
e. A genuine Christian?? Hard to know for sure!
2) Spiritual Formation under Pricilla and Aquila
a. They recognized a deficiency in Apollos’ knowledge of Jesus Christ and the gospel
b. They privately and graciously “explained to him the way of God more accurately”
Application #1: Are you humble enough to receive instruction from other believers?
Application #2: Are you concerned and patient enough to help others grow in Christ?
3) Mature Ministry in Corinth
a. A very powerful preacher – probably more gifted than Paul in his speaking ability
b. Became Pastor of the Church in Corinth
III. The Ephesian Disciples (19:1-7)
1) These ‘Disciples’ were NOT true Christians
a. They didn’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit
b. They did not know about Pentecost!
c. They had not been properly baptized
Application: This story does not support the ‘Second Blessing’ theology of some holiness groups or a two stage view of Conversion
2) Conversion of the Ephesian Disciples was unique!
a. Signaled the end of the Old Covenant era
b. Jewish Pentecost (Acts 2); Samaritan Pentecost (Acts 8); Gentile Pentecost (Acts 10); Pentecost for Remaining Disciples of John the Baptist (Acts 19)