In a recent Bible class discussion, we came to Luke’s statement about Apollos of Alexandria. “He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures,” (Acts 18:24, ESV).
Eloquence is to be commended. It is knowing how to communicate; having the learning and skill to deliver your message in such a manner, it is easy for your audience to listen, to follow along and understand how the message relates to their lives. This is what we might have learned in speech or communication classes in college. Though we may not specifically define eloquence, I think we know it when we hear it. Preachers and teachers should give attention to delivery skills. Elements of good public speaking like structure, good illustrations, pace, clear objective, etc. should never be dismissed or slighted. But there was something else about Apollos.
He was competent in the Scriptures. It is very likely that other public speakers in Corinth and Ephesus had equal or greater skill that Apollos – better vocal resonance, vocabulary, passion, format, etc. Whatever comparisons might have been observed and exchanged, Apollos had something more important than eloquence, learning or public speaking ability. He had the right message, the only message that answered the needs of his auditors.
So let’s see the value of eloquence while acknowledging that what’s primary is the content, the message. Preachers and teachers are well advised to hone their delivery skills. But what is being delivered? It must be God’s message!