New Testament minor figures, Priscilla & Aquila

  • Acts 18:1-3, 24-28
  • Romans 16:3-5

Whether one says Aquila & Priscilla or Priscilla & Aquila or use the formal name Prisca these two minor figures of the New Testament occupy a prominent place in the life of several Churches in the first century. Apparently, this husband and wife team were part of the Jews forced to leave Rome under the cruel and unjust edict of Claudius who expelled all Jews from Rome in 52 ad. It was reported to Claudius the Jews were the reason for uproars. From historians the problem root was between the Christians, who at that time were considered to be mostly Jewish, though many gentiles made up the Roman church, and traditional Jews. This would seem to be why Aquila born in Pontus, came to Corinth from Rome with his wife Priscilla.

One cannot be sure how the couple came to know Christianity but there are at least two prominent ways it could have happened. There were Jews dwelling in Pontus, who were in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost Acts 2:9. Aquila certainly could have been in that group or someone may have brought back the Gospel to him and his wife. The two could have been taught the Gospel of Christ by Paul while staying with them in Corinth. They were applying the same trade, living together in the same dwelling and would have had much time together for the sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

How ever this Jewish couple came to know and obey the Gospel of Christ they were well versed in the Gospel of Christ. When Paul left Corinth for Ephesus, they accompanied him and Aquila & Priscilla remained there while Paul continued on his journey into Syria. When Paul, wrote the first letter to the church at Corinth they were still at Ephesus, and their house was used for the Christian to assemble in, 1 Corinthians 16:19.

While Priscilla & Aquila worshiped the Lord Acts 18:24 NKJV …a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. Curious indeed is finding a Jew with a Roman name of a Greek God. Aquila likewise was a Jew with or using a Roman name as well ak’-wi-la (Akulas), “an ea-gle” (ACC). Being from Alexandria, a city where Jews occupied their own part of the city and was considered almost roman citizens under the Ptolemean rule, Apollos would have been educated in the schools of Alexandria. He seemed to excel in the abilities to speak openly and persuasive.

Where Apollos received the teachings of John the Baptist is unknown though there is much conjecture. He accurately and persuasively taught the things he knew about Jesus the Christ from the teaching of John. He was in need of a more complete understanding of the Gospel. This understanding the refuges from Rome was willing to give. It is to Apollos credit that such a

“eloquent” man was willing to receive additional teaching from these refuges. To Priscilla and Aquila credit lies the willingness to share the “Good News” with such a man as this. The couple continued to help Apollos by writing a letter commending him when he left for Achaia to further teach the more complete doctrine of Jesus Christ.

Upon the lifting of the ban from Rome of the Jews the couple would return. Romans 16:3-5 NKJV “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house…” This brief passage from Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles revels yet more of the relationship between him and Priscilla and Aquila. They are back in Rome with the church meeting in their house. Apparently as in Ephesus they had made special arrangements to accommodate all or part of the church in Rome. The growing animosity of the Jews toward the Christians continued and the teaching of Jesus was forbidden in many places.

Also, Paul credits them with saving his life by risking their own. While we do not know the nature of this statement if appears the facts of this selfless act was well known to the churches of the region and they were indebted to this couple as was Paul for their great care of the apostle.

This account of the couple Aquila & Priscilla may not seem of great importance to us outside of the first century but was highly instrumental in the spreading of the Gospel then. The extraordinary bond between the couple and with the Lord Jesus was their motivation to suffer the hardships and still flourish in the work of the Lord. They were willing, no eager, to share the “Good News” of the Lord with all who might be close rich or poor, educated on ignorant the work of sharing the Gospel continued. No difference was made of the necessity to move from one place to another the work of the Lord continued. Even in the gravest of danger what was best for the work of the Lord was held high.

The Lords church today would do well to foster a great relationship with just such a people. Indeed the church is made of just such a people. Regardless of hardship or opportunity the Lords work was all important and would continue.

Questions:

  1. Why were two different spellings of Priscilla & Prisca used for the wife of Aquila?
  2. Where was Paul when he first became acquainted with Priscilla and Aquila?
  3. In what city had the coupled lived just before meeting Paul? Why did they move from there?
  4. In what city did Paul leave the couple to proceed on his journey?
  5. In what city(s) did the church meet in their house?
  6. Who was the learned teacher from Alexandria whom Aquila and Priscilla taught more perfectly?
  7. In addition to the sharing of the gospel, what other things had Priscilla and Aquila done for Paul?
  8. What lesson should we learn about the relationship of marriage from this committed couple?
  9. Why is spiritual ancestry so important and why should be reflect on it from time to time?
  10. What lessons have we learned from this couple?