Opening Word to the Full-Time Trainees Concerning Regulations and Opinions, An, by Witness Lee


Another trouble arose later in the church because the Jews tried to bring in the practice of circumcision to the Gentile churches. This is clearly revealed and recorded in Acts 15. Even Paul and Barnabas stopped their ministry to go up to Jerusalem to get this thing solved, and it was solved by the Lord’s mercy.


Right after that, another trouble came up. This trouble was Barnabas‘s opinion (vv. 35-39). He wanted to bring his cousin John Mark with him to go on in the ministry with Paul. But Paul realized that Mark should be disciplined. He should not be easily permitted to come back to the ministry on his own. This was because he had withdrawn from the ministry in Pamphylia on their last trip. Thus, Paul intended to discipline Mark so that he could learn, but Barnabas was opinionated. He quarreled with Paul, and there was a big division.

When Paul was a new convert, Barnabas ushered him into the church and into the ministry (11:22-26). At first Barnabas was the one who took the lead. Even when they were sent on their first trip, Barnabas was the leader at the beginning (13:1-2). Later in their journey, however, Paul began to take the lead in the apostolic ministry (13:9; 14:12). After Paul was in the lead, Barnabas eventually became opinionated, not in secular things but in the holy ministry. If the Bible did not have such a record, we could never imagine that Barnabas could be that much opinionated to insist on taking his cousin with them. Paul and Barnabas were divided not by a great doctrine such as that of the Divine Trinity but because of Barnabas’s cousin.


Another trouble arose later with a new Jewish convert named Apollos. He was acquainted with the Bible and eloquent in teaching the Bible. A great number of people were helped through his teaching, yet he was behind in the revelation of God’s up-to-date economy. He knew only the baptism of John. He did not know that there was an advance after John. That advance was the baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God. If you read only 18:24-28, you may admire Apollos. This positive record shows that he was very much helped in the way of God by Aquila and Priscilla. This couple was up-to-date with God’s present-day economy, and they helped him.

But chapter nineteen of Acts shows us the unique result of Apollos’s work in Ephesus. This result shows us that he did not change. If he had been adjusted by Aquila and Priscilla, he would have adjusted these twelve disciples in Ephesus who had been baptized only into John’s baptism (vv. 1-7). He would have told them that they needed to be baptized again into the name of the Lord Jesus. He would have said, “I’m sorry that I haven’t brought you into the present move of God’s economy. I am short of this. Now I have received the help, so I want to adjust you.” If he would have done this, there would have been no need for Paul to come and help these men be baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. This proves that although Aquila and Priscilla worked to help Apollos, he did not practice what he was helped with. This shows that it is not so easy for us to drop our old way. The best athletes are trained to drop their natural way. Good pianists also must drop their natural way and take the trained way. The natural way is the old way.

On the one hand, Apollos was very much helped by Aquila, yet he did not practice what he was helped with. We know this because the result of his work still remained as something old. Acts 18 says that Aquila and Priscilla taught him the way of God. Surely they would have taught him about the baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus. This was probably the first item that Aquila and Priscilla told Apollos. God did not tolerate John’s continuing in his ministry once the Lord Jesus appeared on the scene, and he was eventually beheaded. I do believe Aquila would have told Apollos about this. Those twelve disciples in Ephesus should have been adjusted by Apollos before Paul arrived but they were not. People who read Acts 18 admire Apollos, but Acts 19 shows that he caused trouble. When he was in Ephesus, he left twelve there with a problem.

Later Apollos brought a problem to Corinth by causing an opinion among the saints. Some there said, “I am…of Apollos” (1 Cor. 1:12). Paul deals with the problem of division in the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians. Then at the end of 1 Corinthians Paul said, “And concerning our brother Apollos, I urged him many times to come to you with the brothers; yet it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity” (16:12). This means that Paul begged Apollos to go back to Corinth. Apollos should have gone back to tell the Corinthians not to say that they were of Apollos. But Apollos told Paul that he would not go then. Instead, he would go when he had the opportunity. That was his opinion.

(Opening Word to the Full-Time Trainees Concerning Regulations and Opinions, An, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)