Preach to Make Disciples
“When Priscilla and Aquila heard [Apollos], they took him into their company and expounded the way of God more correctly to him.”—ACTS 18:26.
1. (a) Although he was “aglow with the spirit,” what did Apollos lack? (b) What did Apollos need to fill his spiritual deficiency?
PRISCILLA and Aquila, a first-century Christian married couple, observed Apollos giving a speech at a synagogue in the city of Ephesus. With his eloquent words and power of persuasion, Apollos had captured the attention of his audience. He was “aglow with the spirit,” and was “teaching with correctness the things about Jesus.” However, it was evident that Apollos was “acquainted with only the baptism of John.” What Apollos preached about the Christ was true as far as it went. The problem was that it did not go far enough. Apollos needed to increase his knowledge of the role of Jesus Christ in the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose.—Acts 18:24-26.
2. What challenge did Priscilla and Aquila accept?
2 Without hesitation, Priscilla and Aquila made themselves available to help Apollos become one who could observe “all the things” Christ commanded. (Matthew 28:19, 20) The account says that they took Apollos “into their company and expounded the way of God more correctly to him.” However, there were facts about Apollos that would have led some Christians to be reluctant to teach him. What facts? And what can we learn from the efforts of Priscilla and Aquila to discuss the Scriptures with Apollos? How can a review of this historical account help us focus on starting home Bible studies?
Focus on People
3. Why did the background of Apollos not prevent Priscilla and Aquila from teaching him?
3 Born of Jewish stock, Apollos had apparently been reared in the city of Alexandria. Alexandria was then the capital of Egypt and a center of higher learning, renowned for its great library. The city had a large Jewish population, including scholars. Hence, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Septuagint was produced there. No wonder Apollos was “well versed in the Scriptures”! Aquila and Priscilla were tentmakers. Did the eloquence of Apollos intimidate them? No. Out of love they considered the person, his needs, and how they could help him.
4. Where and how did Apollos receive the help he needed?
4 No matter how eloquent Apollos was, he needed instruction. The help he needed was not to be found in any university but was found among fellow members of the Christian congregation. Apollos was about to benefit from points that would result in a more accurate understanding of God’s arrangement for salvation. Priscilla and Aquila “took him into their company and expounded the way of God more correctly to him.”
5. What can you say about the spirituality of Priscilla and Aquila?
5 Priscilla and Aquila were spiritually strong and well-grounded in the faith. Very likely, they were ‘always ready to make a defense before everyone that demanded a reason for their hope,’ whether that be a rich man, a poor person, a scholar, or a slave. (1 Peter 3:15) Aquila and his wife were able to ‘handle the word of the truth aright.’ (2 Timothy 2:15) Evidently, they were serious students of the Scriptures. Apollos was deeply touched by the instruction based on ‘the word of God, which is alive and exerts power,’ affecting the heart.—Hebrews 4:12.
6. How do we know that Apollos appreciated the help he received?
6 Apollos appreciated the example of his teachers and became even more adept at making disciples. He used his knowledge to full advantage in the work of proclaiming the good news, especially among the Jewish population. Apollos was exceptionally useful in persuading the Jews about Christ. ‘Being powerful in the Scriptures,’ he was able to prove to them that all the prophets of old looked forward to the coming of the Christ. (Acts 18:24, Kingdom Interlinear Translation) The account adds that Apollos next went to Achaia, where “he greatly helped those who had believed on account of God’s undeserved kindness; for with intensity he thoroughly proved the Jews to be wrong publicly, while he demonstrated by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”—Acts 18:27, 28.
Learn From the Example of Other Teachers
7. How did Aquila and Priscilla become skilled teachers?
7 How did Aquila and Priscilla become proficient teachers of the Word of God? Besides their diligence in personal study and meeting attendance, their close association with the apostle Paul must have helped greatly. For 18 months Paul resided in the home of Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth. They worked together making and repairing tents. (Acts 18:2, 3) Imagine the deep Scriptural conversations that must have ensued. And what a boost to their spirituality such association with Paul afforded them! “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise,” says Proverbs 13:20. Good association had a fine effect on their spiritual habits.—1 Corinthians 15:33.
8. What did Priscilla and Aquila learn from observing Paul in his ministry?
8 When Priscilla and Aquila observed Paul as a Kingdom proclaimer, they saw a good teacher in action. The account in Acts states that Paul “would give a talk in the synagogue [in Corinth] every sabbath and would persuade Jews and Greeks.” Later, when he was joined by Silas and Timothy, Paul “began to be intensely occupied with the word, witnessing to the Jews to prove that Jesus is the Christ.” When little interest was found among the members of the synagogue, Priscilla and Aquila noticed that Paul transferred the center of his preaching activity to a more favorable location, a house adjoining the synagogue. There Paul was able to help Crispus, “the presiding officer of the synagogue,” to become a disciple. Very likely, Priscilla and Aquila noted that the making of that one disciple had a profound and fruitful effect on the territory. The account states: “Crispus . . . became a believer in the Lord, and so did all his household. And many of the Corinthians that heard began to believe and be baptized.”—Acts 18:4-8.
9. How did Priscilla and Aquila react to Paul’s example?
9 Paul’s example in the field ministry was imitated by other Kingdom proclaimers, such as Priscilla and Aquila. The apostle exhorted other Christians: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) In harmony with Paul’s example, Priscilla and Aquila helped Apollos to understand Christian teachings more correctly. In turn, he assisted still others. Priscilla and Aquila no doubt helped to make disciples in Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus.—Acts 18:1, 2, 18, 19; Romans 16:3-5.
10. What have you learned from Acts chapter 18 that will help you in the disciple-making work?
10 What can we learn from our consideration of Acts chapter 18? Well, just as Aquila and Priscilla may have learned from Paul, we can improve our ability to make disciples by following the example of good teachers of God’s Word. We can associate with those who are “intensely occupied with the word” and who are “thoroughly witnessing” to others. (Acts 18:5, Kingdom Interlinear Translation) We can observe how they reach the heart of people by using persuasive teaching skills. Such skills can help us to make disciples. When a person is studying the Bible with us, we might suggest that he invite other members of his family or neighbors to join in the study. Or we might ask him to let us know of others to whom we could offer a Bible study.—Acts 18:6-8.
Create Opportunities to Make Disciples
11. Where can new disciples be found?
11 Paul and his fellow Christians sought to make disciples by preaching from house to house, in the marketplace, and on their travels—really, everywhere. As a zealous Kingdom worker seeking to make disciples, can you expand your field service activities? Can you take advantage of opportunities to search for deserving ones and preach to them? What are some ways in which our fellow publishers of the good news have found disciples? Let us first take a look at the field of telephone witnessing.
12-14. To illustrate the benefits of telephone witnessing, relate your own experience or one found in these paragraphs.
12 While witnessing from house to house in Brazil, a Christian whom we will call Maria handed a tract to a young woman who was leaving an apartment building. Using the tract’s title as an introduction, Maria asked, “Would you like to know more about the Bible?” The woman replied: “I would love to. The problem is that I am a teacher, and giving lessons takes up all my time.” Maria explained that they could consider Bible topics over the telephone. The woman gave Maria her phone number, and that very evening, she started a study by telephone using the brochure What Does God Require of Us? *
13 While engaged in telephone witnessing, a full-time minister in Ethiopia was startled when she spoke to a man but heard a commotion in the background. The man asked her to call back later. When she did, he apologized and said that at the time of her earlier call, he and his wife were in the middle of a heated quarrel. The sister used this remark as an opportunity to point to the wise guidance the Bible gives for handling family problems. She told him that many families had been helped by The Secret of Family Happiness, a book published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. A few days after the book was delivered, the sister telephoned the man again. He exclaimed: “This book has saved my marriage!” In fact, he had held a family meeting so as to pass on the good points he had read in the book. A home Bible study was started, and soon the man began to attend Christian meetings regularly.
14 A Kingdom proclaimer in Denmark who started a Bible study by witnessing over the telephone says: “The service overseer encouraged me to participate in telephone witnessing. In the beginning I held back, saying: ‘That is not my cup of tea.’ However, one day I mustered up courage and began dialing the first householder. Sonja answered and, after a short conversation, agreed to receive Bible-based literature. One evening we discussed the subject of creation, and she wanted to read Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation. * I said that it would be nice if we could meet in person and discuss the subject. She agreed. Sonja was ready for the study when I came, and we have studied every week since that time.” Our Christian sister concludes: “For many years I had prayed for a Bible study, but I did not expect to get one by witnessing on the phone.”
15, 16. What experiences can you relate to show the benefit of being alert to different ways to start Bible studies?
15 Many are enjoying success because of applying suggestions to witness to people wherever they are. A Christian woman in the United States stopped her car next to a commercial van in a parking lot. When the woman in the van saw her, the sister started to explain the nature of our Bible educational work. The woman listened, got out of the van, and stepped over to the sister’s car. She said: “I’m so glad you stopped to talk with me. I haven’t had any of your Bible literature for a long time. Besides, I want to study the Bible again. Will you study with me?” Our sister thus created a favorable situation for sharing the good news.
16 A sister in the United States had the following experience when she visited a nursing home: She approached a director of certain activities in the facility and told him that she would like to volunteer her help in meeting the spiritual needs of the residents. Our sister added that she would be pleased to conduct a free weekly Bible study with all who wished to attend. The director gave her permission to visit the rooms of different residents. Soon, she was conducting a Bible study three times a week with a total of 26 residents, one of whom is able to attend our meetings regularly.
17. What approach is often effective in starting home Bible studies?
17 For some Kingdom proclaimers, a direct offer of a Bible study produces good results. One morning a congregation with 105 publishers made a special effort to offer a Bible study to each householder they met. Eighty-six publishers participated in field service, and after spending two hours in the preaching work, they found that at least 15 new Bible studies had been started.
Keep On Searching for Deserving Ones
18, 19. What important direction from Jesus should we keep in mind, and to that end what should we be determined to do?
18 As a Kingdom proclaimer, you may wish to try the suggestions mentioned in this article. Of course, it would be wise to take into account local customs when considering methods of witnessing. Above all, let us keep in mind Jesus’ direction to search out deserving ones and help such individuals to become disciples.—Matthew 10:11; 28:19.
19 To that end, may we ‘handle the word of the truth aright.’ We can do so by using persuasion based solidly on the Scriptures. This will help us to touch the heart of receptive ones and move them to action. As we prayerfully rely on Jehovah, we can share in helping some to become disciples of Jesus Christ. And how rewarding this work is! Let us therefore ‘do our utmost to present ourselves approved to God,’ always honoring Jehovah as zealous Kingdom proclaimers, who preach with the purpose of making disciples.—2 Timothy 2:15.
^ par. 12 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
^ par. 14 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Do You Recall?
• Why did Apollos need to have the way of God expounded more completely to him?
• In what ways did Priscilla and Aquila learn from the apostle Paul?
• From Acts chapter 18, what have you learned about the disciple-making work?
• How can you create opportunities to make disciples?
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Priscilla and Aquila “expounded the way of God more correctly” to Apollos
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Apollos became adept at making disciples
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Paul preached everywhere he went
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Create opportunities to preach