Acts 18:18-28 - Biblical Humility

Acts 18:18-28 – Biblical Humility
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 18:18-28

The title is drawn from the actions of Paul, Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos before the Lord and the truth of scripture.

Worldly humility, while having some overlap with biblical humility, falls short of the humility outlined in scripture.
And it is this biblical humility that God wants for us.
In our text today, we have insight into just what this biblical humility is.

Dictionary Humility:
Humility is typically seen as reserved, working behind the scenes, taking no credit, and being mousy and shy.
Dictionary.com defines the verb humility as:
The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc.
lowliness, meekness, submissiveness.

And as an adjective:
Having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.
Low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.

As a heads up, one major difference between humility and biblical humility is the nature of our relationship with God’s word.

We talked briefly about humility during our lessons on Biblical Unity:
In Philippians 2:1-8, Paul speaks of being of the same mind and of one mind.
The Greek word for mind in each instance is the same, phroneo.
The words meaning, in this context, relates to humility – this is hinted at in verse 3.
It is often defined as not letting one’s opinion of himself exceed the bounds of modesty.
In Romans 11:20, the word is translated as do not become proud when speaking to the grafted in gentiles.
In Philippians 4:10, the word is translated as concern when speaking of the church’s concern for Paul.
In Romans 15:5-6, the word is translated as to live in such harmony when referring to glorifying God with one voice.
In 1 Corinthians 13:11, it is translated as thought in the phrase thought like a child.
It is here we got the following BUP:
Setting our minds on others and Christ not on ourselves and the world is essential to Biblical Unity.


Verse 18bAt Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.
We know that Paul was well aware of the futility of the law and works for salvation.
Why, then would he make a vow with God and what kind of vow was it?

What was the vow?
Numbers 6:2-5
“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, 3 he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. 4 All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.
5 “All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.

Most believe the vow was a form of this Nazirite vow
Shaving his head indicated Paul had fulfilled his vow of thanks to God.

Why the vow?
The speculation is that Paul wanted to give thanks to God for bringing him safely through his time in Corinth.
What better way to give thanks than to humble himself in sacrifice before God.
And I also believe Paul was expressing the below truth.

Deuteronomy 8:3And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
The biblically humble know that God’s word is the giver, sustainer and creator of life.

How can we humble ourselves before God demonstrating to him we understand who provides and sustains?


Accurately and More Accurately:
Verse 25bAnd being fervent in spirit, he spoke accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Verse 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Apollos described as:
A smart and eloquent man
A stranger
From a foreign country
Knew the Scriptures
An accurate teacher
A bold speaker

But in spite of all these attributes, Priscilla and Aquila explained (set forth, declare, expound) to Apollos where he was incomplete in his knowledge.
I suspect most of us would shy away from correcting such a man.
In fact, we might even justify our silence as humility.
However, to be humble before God’s word requires that we honor it by lovingly correcting those in error.

What scripture has to say about seeking and surrendering to the truth of scripture:
Daniel 10:12Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.

The biblically humble set their hearts on understanding God.
And if one has humbled himself and set his heart on understanding the truth of God’s word, then they, and we, should welcome correction!

Isaiah 66:2All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

The biblically humble are contrite in spirit and revere and honor God’s word.
And this reverence and trembling before God’s word should translate into a desire to see it preached truthfully and not be idle when it is warped for whatever reason.

Being taught by a woman:
Verse 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

It is interesting to point out here that Apollos was taught by Priscilla, a woman.
Given the Middle Eastern baggage he must have grown up with concerning women, and Priscilla being a stranger at that, his willingness to learn the truth reflects his humility before God’s word and his desire to seek and apply its truth.

Proverbs 11:12When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
If Apollos had let his pride reign, he could have missed out on receiving deeper insight into Jesus’ baptism.
The biblically humble are able to overcome the pitfalls of pride and make God honoring judgments despite of our baggage.

POI – So what is the deal with women teaching?
1 Timothy 2:12 – I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
This letter was written to Timothy while he was in Ephesus; the very city where Priscilla explained to Apollos.
Most understand Paul’s words to be referring to exercising authority as a pastor or elder.
Our text today clearly demonstrates that a woman can teach a man in private and in small group gatherings.

POI – Apollos knew most of the Gospel, but not the whole story.
We can find ourselves in a similar position as Apollos.
Except, in our case, we concentrate more on the NT instead of the OT, and so are also prone to make mistakes in our theology.


The biblically humble speak the Gospel:
Verse 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
Verse 28 – for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

We are called to speak the Gospel and Apollos was obedient to that calling
Apollos is an example of why speaking the Gospel is not predicated on a complete knowledge of Scripture.
And I would argue that our laziness, apathy or dissatisfaction with our walk is also no excuse.
If we had enough biblical humility to be born again, we have enough to speak the Gospel.

What scripture has to say about biblical humility and speaking the Gospel:
Philippians 2:8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Zephaniah 2:3 – Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands
The biblically humble are obedient to God’s word.

2 Corinthians 11:7Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?
The biblically humble speak the Gospel.
Speaking the Gospel both humbles the speaker and exalts the listener!

POI – Biblical humility is linked to a spirit of fervency.
Verse 25bAnd being fervent in spirit, he spoke accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
To be fervent in spirit, there can be no thought of self.
A preoccupation with self will drown our fervency.


This is a bonus point not directly related to our text.
God expects his humble children to respond to sin in a certain way.

What scripture says about this response:
Leviticus 26:40-42“But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, 41 so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.
The biblically humble confess their sin and repent seeking to not walk contrary to God.

2 Chronicles 7:14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Psalm 149:4 - For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. The biblically humble repent and are forgiven and saved by God.

Zephaniah 3:11“On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. 12 But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord, 13 those who are left in Israel…”
A characteristic of a biblically humble and lowly people is that they seek refuge in God.
The biblically humble don’t just repent, but seek God.