Acts 18:24-28 records that while Paul was still on his way to Ephesus, a Jewish believer named Apollos came to that city. He was an eloquent man and well-versed in the Scriptures. That Apollos was a follower of Jesus is clear from the way Luke describes him: “he had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately” (Acts 18:25, NIV).
Yet, he knew only John’s baptism. Having been baptized by John the Baptist, Apollos became acquainted with Jesus during Jesus’ earthy life, but he must have moved away from the area—probably back to Alexandria—before the Passion/Pentecost events.
This explains why Aquila and Priscilla would give him further instruction. Though being able to show from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel (Acts 18:28), Apollos needed to be updated as to the developments of Christianity since Jesus’ ministry. However, Aquila and Priscilla did more for Apollos: with the other believers in Ephesus, they gave him a recommendation letter addressed to the churches in Achaia (Acts 18:27), which allowed him to have an effective ministry in Corinth (1 Cor. 3:4-6, 1 Cor. 4:6, 1 Cor. 16:12).
Read Acts 19:1-7. What happened to Paul when he arrived in Ephesus?
Apollos’s story is connected to the account of the twelve men Paul met in Ephesus upon his arrival in that city, because their situation was very similar. Their description as “disciples” (Acts 19:1) and Paul’s question to them (Acts 19:2) clearly indicate that they were already believers in Jesus. At the same time, their answer to Paul shows that, similarly to Apollos, they were also former disciples of John the Baptist who had become followers of Jesus without having experienced Pentecost. They were to have an opportunity to enjoy a deeper experience with the Lord.
“On his arrival at Ephesus, Paul found twelve brethren, who, like Apollos, had been disciples of John the Baptist, and like him had gained some knowledge of the mission of Christ. They had not the ability of Apollos, but with the same sincerity and faith they were seeking to spread abroad the knowledge they had received.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 282.
We should view their new baptism in light of this unique situation. They were not coming from another Christian denomination, nor were they experiencing conversion. They were only being integrated into mainstream Christianity. That they received the Spirit and spoke in tongues probably means they were Christian missionaries, as Apollos was, who were now being fully empowered to witness about Jesus Christ wherever they went.
Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons