Unity in the Church
…Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that I do not remember if I baptized anyone else.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but
to preach the
not with words of wisdom,
lest the cross of Christ be emptied
of its power
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those
who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is
the power of God.…
What did Paul say about Apollos?
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but
God made it grow.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything,
but only God, who makes things grow.
This is referring to the Gospel Message,
the Seed is the Word of Christ,
The man who plants and the man who waters
the word of God
have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according
to his own labor.
What happened to Apollos in the Bible?
Jerome states that Apollos was so dissatisfied with the division at Corinth
that he retired to Crete with Zenas;
and that once the schism had been healed by Paul's letters
to the Corinthians,
Apollos returned to the city and became one of its elders.
Apollos was an evangelist, apologist, church leader, and friend of the apostle Paul. Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria, Egypt, described as “eloquent,” “mighty in the Scriptures,” “fervent in the spirit” and “instructed in the way of the Lord” (Acts 18:24). In A.D. 54, he traveled to Ephesus, where he taught boldly in the synagogue. However, at that time, Apollos’ understanding of the gospel was incomplete, since he was “acquainted only with the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25).
This probably means that Apollos preached repentance and faith in the Messiah—he maybe even believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah--but he did not know the full magnitude of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Aquila and Priscilla, friends of Paul, spent some time with Apollos and filled in the gaps in his understanding of
Jesus Christ (Acts 18:26).
now armed with the complete message,
immediately began a
preaching ministry and was used of God as an
effective apologist for the gospel
Apollos traveled through Achaia and eventually found his way to Corinth (Acts 19:1), where he “watered” where Paul had “sown” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
This is important to remember when studying the first Epistle to Corinth. Apollos, with his natural gifts, had attracted a following among the church in Corinth, but simple admiration was growing into divisiveness. Against Apollos’ wishes, there was a faction in Corinth that claimed him as their spiritual mentor, to the exclusion of Paul and Peter.
Paul deals with this partisanship in 1 Corinthians 1:12-13. Christ is not divided, and neither should we be.
We cannot love personality over
The last mention of Apollos in the Bible comes in Paul’s letter to Titus: “Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need” (Titus 3:13). Obviously, Apollos was on his way through Crete (where Titus was) at this time. And, just as obviously, Paul still considered Apollos to be a valuable co-laborer and friend.
Some believe that Apollos eventually returned to Ephesus to serve the church there. It’s very possible that he did, although there’s no biblical confirmation of this detail. Also, some identify Apollos as the unknown author of the book of Hebrews; again, there is no biblical support for such an identification.
The author of Hebrews remains unknown.
In summary, Apollos was a man of letters with a zeal for the Lord and a talent for preaching. He labored in the Lord’s work, aiding the ministry of the apostles and faithfully building up the church. His life should encourage each of us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord” (2 Peter 3:18)
and to use our God-given gifts to promote
In Romans 1:16 Paul writes, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” The gospel is intended for all people. But, chronologically, the gospel message was first revealed to the Jewish people before it was revealed to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people).
The Jews are God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6–7). Through the Jews, God demonstrated His love and holiness to the world: “Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah” (Romans 9:4–5). It was through the seed of Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed” (Acts 3:25; cf. Genesis 22:18; 26:4). That promised blessing came through Jesus Christ, as explained in Galatians 3:16. Jesus was born as a Jew under the Law, fulfilled the Jewish Law perfectly, and died as a once-for-all sacrifice on behalf of all who would put their faith in Him (Galatians 4:4–5; Hebrews 9:14–15, 23–28).
In His public ministry, Jesus spoke of being sent to the Jews, and He focused His efforts on them. He was the Jewish Messiah, and He had come, in part, to “strengthen Judah and save the tribes of Joseph” (Zechariah 10:6). On one occasion, Jesus seemed to rebuff the pleas of a Gentile woman (though He later helped her) in Matthew 15:21–28 (also see Matthew 10:5). Jesus predicted that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in [Christ’s] name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47, emphasis added). The gospel of the kingdom was to be a blessing to the whole world, but it was natural that it be first proclaimed to Israel.
When Paul speaks of the gospel bringing salvation “first to the Jew” in Romans 1:16, he alludes to the special relationship the Jews had to the Messiah. The Christ was the Son of David, and the hope of the Messiah had long been held by the Jews (see Luke 2:38). So, when the gospel of Christ was first proclaimed, the Jews had priority. We see this prioritization in Paul’s first missionary journey. Every time they would come to a new city, Paul and Barnabas would preach in the synagogue to the Jews in that city. In Pisidian Antioch, they were so opposed by the unbelieving Jews that the missionaries said, “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). The persecution in Antioch continued, and Paul and Barnabas were eventually expelled, so they went to the next town (verse 51).
There are several important things to note about Paul’s statement that the power of God in the gospel “brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” First, God did not cease saving Jews in order to save Gentiles. In all of his missionary journeys, Paul continued to preach first in the synagogues. God continues to desire the salvation of all the world (John 3:16–18; 1 Timothy 2:4).
Second, Jews are neither better nor worse than Gentiles. All need the Savior, and, in Christ, all are on equal spiritual footing. Colossians 3:10–11 reminds us we “have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” The believing Gentile is just as welcome in the family of God as the believing Jew. The Jew who has faith in Christ Jesus is just as secure in his salvation as the born-again Gentile.
Finally, salvation comes the same way to both Jews and Gentiles. It is for “everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Jesus is the only way of salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6) regardless of one’s heritage. Paul said, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). Galatians 3:26–28 says, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” All must come to Jesus in faith for salvation, and all are equally accepted by Him when they do.
describes what God requires. It demands perfection:
a standard we cannot meet.
describes what God provides so that we may live.
Why is a proper distinction between law and gospel necessary?
Through the law God requires everything of us; through the gospel he grants us everything. Through the law God commands what we are to offer to him; through the gospel God offers himself in Christ for us.
5. The Distinction between Law and Gospel
Despite the divine origin of this unity, law and gospel cannot be dissolved into one another. The distinction between law and gospel does not consist solely in distinguishing between unbelief and believing, as if the same word saves the believer and judges the non-believer. The distinction between law and gospel also does not consist merely in that, through his one word, God deals in a twofold manner with each human being, uncovering and covering, judging and acquitting. The effect of this twofold working is not a miracle hidden behind the one word, but rather it takes place through the twofold address [Anrede] of God:
Through the law God requires everything of us; through the gospel he grants us everything. Through the law God commands what we are to offer to him; through the gospel God offers himself in Christ for us. Through the law God announces judgment upon sinners; through the gospel he proclaims to them that the judgment suffered by Christ means acquittal. Through the law God uncovers the reality of the sinner; through the gospel he covers the sinner with the righteousness of Christ. These are not only different effects of the same word of God, but they are different words through which God carries out the acts of judging and acquitting, of putting to death and making alive,
which are proclaimed by them.
Law and gospel are to be distinguished as long as we are on our journey in this world, for the whole human race—whether it knows about it or not, whether it recognizes this or denies it—is journeying toward the Day when Christ will come in his glory and will judge all the living and the dead. Then he who is the one Word of God will speak two different words. To some he will say, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father," and to the others, "You that are accursed, depart from me" (Mt. 25.34, 41). The church is hastening toward this coming Day. For now, both words are still to be proclaimed to every human being. But some day both words will stand separately so that only one of the two will be addressed to each and every human being.
Confusing the law and Gospel contributed to a medieval piety that maintained that while we enter into a state of justice by grace, we then need to satisfy God’s justice by works. Martin Luther found that idea suffocating. Even our best works lack perfect intentions. Christians know this. So the judgment of God became a fearful thing to Luther and others with sensitive consciences.
But upon reading and teaching Scripture, Luther re-discovered Paul’s emphasis on the law and Gospel. In the Gospel itself, God reveals his righteousness (Rom 1:17). That meant (and means) that, in Christ, the righteousness of God clothes us at the moment we believe. We do not need to merit God’s approval.
He accepts us in Christ forever.
Good works then flow out of a good heart--
a good tree produces good fruits.
The law, on the other, hand condemns.
When Luther speaks of law and gospel,
he can use these terms to describe a biblical pattern of commands and promises. In his The Freedom of the Christian, Luther explains “that the entire Scripture of God is divided into two parts: commands and promises.”
“All of Scripture is
Law or Gospel.”
The law refers specifically to the Law of Moses but overlaps conceptually with other commands of God in Scripture.
The Gospel refers specifically to the good news about Jesus Christ, but Scripture often contains promises of the gospel
(e.g., Gen 3:15).
For Luther and the scriptural authors, the law carries the basic functions of revealing sin (Rom 7:9) and increasing sin (Rom 5:20).
It also restrains evil. Luther commends it then when used properly “first to bridle civil transgressions, and then to reveal and to increase spiritual transgressions.”
In the end, the law is meant to show us
our need for the Gospel.
“For the Law has its terminus,”
“defining how far it is to go and what it is to achieve, namely, to terrify the impenitent with the wrath and displeasure of God and drive them to Christ.”
This, in part, explains why Luther does not see the Mosaic Law per se as having ongoing force over the Christian:
“It is no longer binding on us because it was given
only to the people of Israel.”
He certainly sees the Ten Commandments as abiding moral laws since, however, they are “written by nature into their hearts.”
And he thinks Moses gives wise laws to Israel. Although they are not binding upon anyone, these laws model wisdom and justice. The reformers will later explain that the ceremonies and civil aspects of law served Israel in their specific location in time and place and as such is no longer
binding upon people today as law.
And for Luther, in the new covenant, the Gospel promise means that God gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can live righteously without the law’s condemnation and not for the sake of meriting God’s acceptance of us—but simply because it is good to do so, it serves our neighbour, and it pleases God in a non-meritorious sense.
Since Luther frequently cites and uses the Old Testament, this does not mean he in any way relegates the law to some forgotten realm. No. Luther rather puts law in its God-given place. It threatens and restrains so that we
better understand the
Gospel of freedom.
The gospel of grace saves us apart from any works of the law.
“The Law shows the disease,
the Gospel the cure.”
In this sense, the categories of
law and gospel
and the broader categories of
command and grace
help us make sense of how to
read the whole Bible
The Gospel is God’s approval of us
on the basis of
God clothing us with
righteousness of Christ.
In his 1520 treatise,
When a bride marries a bridegroom, everything she has belongs to him;
and the bridegroom shares with her his whole life.
In the Gospel, we give up ourselves to the message of
the Gospel and Work of Christ
Christ gives entirely his righteousness.
We are then by this union justified by faith.
Christ is our righteousness
These sorts of laws no longer fall upon us as laws under the mosaic law, but as eternal standards of God. Hence, law in this sense has no meritorious use for a Christian but rather a sapiential use—it is wise and good to study God’s law to understand what moral principles we ought to emulate
but it has nothing to do with
the Great Commission,
the CROSS or
There is a biblical pattern, and the
pressing notions of
and command to help
The freedom of the Christian means that God grants us all things for our salvation freely. The duty of Christian means that while we live in the flesh, we must serve others and those in authority over us.
Scripture stands as the authority over both these overlapping spheres of life.
But confusing law and gospel creates a massive problem for Christians.
It makes the law of Moses into a “must” for Christians even though
Christ set us free from the yoke of the law.
“For unless the Gospel be plainly discerned from the law,”
“the true Christian doctrine cannot be kept sound and uncorrupt”
(“Galatians” 1962, 145).
The Gospel bestows the Spirit of freedom to the Christian
so that we can obey
from the heart. The law is not then thrown out but put in its place,
the motivation is grace and the
power to obey is Spiritual.
To rebuild the wall of the Mosaic law
simply makes one a
transgressor of the law
It also makes one a legalist.
“Now, therefore, why are you
putting God to the test
by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples
our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”
In the next verse, Peter defines the difference that Christ brings,
“But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus,
just as they will”
Peter lays the LAW of Moses side-by-side with the
GRACE of Christ.
He tells us that that the law is a yoke that no one can bear.
But the Gospel is grace which we can receive.
In Paul’s idiom,
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do
not submit again to a yoke of slavery”
Some medieval piety attempted to yoke Christians to human customs.
But when law enters as a means of staying within a state of justice,
the law becomes the means by which one maintains their salvation.
Instead, the Gospel sets us free from
such a view.
It liberates us from having to obey human customs or the law of Moses to remain in a state of justice.
The law is a good guide for the Christian life, but a terrible master;
the Lord Jesus sets us free, not law.
Between legalism and antinomianism lies Luther’s Gospel of grace because he rightly discerned the basic pattern that Paul and the Scriptural authors taught.
Scripture, the Law of Moses, has authority over the Christian
under the terms of the New Covenant.
And under this covenant,
Christ sets us free from this law or any human law
yoke over us.
He fulfills what the law pointed to as a good pedagogue
“until Christ came”
Now that he has come and now that
we have the Promised Spirit
we can serve our Lord Jesus Christ as
free men and women.
When Jesus realized that the Pharisees were aware He was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John
(although it was not Jesus who baptized, but His disciples),
So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for a few days.
1 Corinthians 2:1
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.
1 Corinthians 2:4
My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power,
1 Corinthians 2:13
And this is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
2 Corinthians 1:12
And this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in relation to you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God--not in worldly wisdom, but in the grace of God.
Treasury of Scripture
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, …
1 Corinthians 2:1,4,13
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God…
2 Corinthians 4:2
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 10:3,4,10
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: …
1 Corinthians 2:5
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.