OPEN: A traveler was driving along one day and had an accident. He drove his car into a ditch in a desolate area. Luckily, a local farmer came by to help with his horse named Buddy.
Well, the farmer hitched Buddy up to the car and yelled, "Pull, Nellie, pull!" Buddy didn’t move. Once more the farmer hollered, "Pull, Nellie, pull!" Buddy didn’t respond. The farmer repeated this action again, with the same results.
Then the farmer nonchalantly said, "Pull, Buddy, pull!" And the horse finally dragged the car out of the ditch.
The motorist was really appreciative but he was also curious. He said to the farmer “I really appreciate what you did for me, but why did you call your horse by the wrong name 3 times.”
The farmer said, "Oh, Buddy is blind - and if he thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn’t even try."
APPLY: Like “Buddy” people usually don’t like to think they are pulling the load all by themselves. That’s why Jesus sent his disciples out in teams of two. It’s easier to do ministry when you’re part of a team.
Here in Acts 18, we’re introduced to the ultimate ministry team – Priscilla and Aquila. They’re a married couple who are mentioned in scripture at least 4 times. In fact, they are the only married couple I can recall who are mentioned by name (someone reminded me after the sermon that Annanias and Saphira were mentioned, but I’m thinking more in terms of someone who was admirable and Godly).
The Apostles had wives, and Jesus’ half brothers had wives, and they took them with them when they preached (I Cor. 9:5), BUT the names of their wives is never given in Scripture. Priscilla’s is.
I. Some scholars have made a great deal out of this (pause…) but I think that too often, they’ve given Priscilla’s role in this passage the wrong kind of emphasis.
Ordinarily, what scholars point out about this passage in Acts 18 is that Priscilla’s name is mentioned 1st in this text. Ever since the “feminist movement” caught fire there have been religious scholars who have pointed to Priscilla’s prominence in this text and concluded that she was either the “head of her household” OR that she was dominant teacher in their relationship.
I even recently read a sermon by a man who concluded that Priscilla was probably smarter than her husband. (Indeed, I’ve met women who did think they were smarter than their husbands... and I’ve met women who WERE smarter than their husbands).
The picture that is often painted by these scholars is that Priscilla took the lead in ministry, and may even been the power force in the marriage... with Aquila quietly tagging along for the ride and watching from the sidelines as his more knowledgeable wife taught Apollos about baptism.
I have a couple of problems with that:
1st – This argument is based mostly on innuendo and implications from this text that can’t really be proven. In other words, there isn’t anything IN the text that would necessarily lead one to believe that this was true.
2nd – Paul, a man who many of these scholars regard as chauvinist and a woman hater...
* Paul, a man who wrote many passages in Scripture that cause feminists to cringe...
* This same Paul, referred to this couple as both
AQUILA & Priscilla (in I Corinthians 16:19)AND
PRISCILLA & Aquila (in Romans 16:3).
In other words, Paul put both Priscilla and Aquila 1st in different letters to different churches. That would seem to indicate that the order of a couple’s names as they were introduced wasn’t all that signifcant to THAT culture in THAT day.
II. BUT, Priscilla’s name IS mentioned in Acts 18... and that is significant!
IN FACT, you don’t ever find Aquila mentioned without Priscilla NOR Priscilla mentioned without Aquila.
You know what that means?
That means that Priscilla and Aquila were a team.
They were partners in ministry.
They worked together to build up the Kingdom of God.
They pulled in a partnership to build God’s church, because it was bigger than either one of them.
ILLUS: One man once wrote: Partnership is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organized objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results… Simply put, (partnership) is less “me” and more “we.”
Priscilla was no door mat. No doubt she was an intelligent and vibrant woman. But I doubt she would have thought of herself as the “head” of her family. Nor would she have considered herself as being more “intelligent” than Aquila. Nor would it have crossed her mind to think of herself as a better teacher than her husband.
I suspect she would have rolled her eyes at anyone who would even suggest that type of idea.
To imply such a competition in their relationship deprives this passage of its true beauty and depth.
We live in a world where men put their wives down to their friends and where women belittle their husbands when they are with the other girls.
Sometimes a couple doesn’t even wait to be out with their friends before they trash each other. Sometimes they do it to each other’s face.
Friends, that ought not to be!!
Christians should NEVER belittle their husbands or wives either publicly or in private!!!
Feminist theology imposes the type of competition and struggle into this 1st century couple that is entirely foreign to anything taught anywhere else in scripture.
What these feminist scholars miss is the beauty of what Priscilla had. Priscilla had the ideal Christian marriage. She wouldn’t have overshadowed Aquila and Aquila wouldn’t have crowded her out of ministry.
This couple had something that every married Christian couple should strive for: the advantage of serving Jesus alongside their husband or wife.
Often times a man will be a powerful force for Jesus - in the pulpit, teaching classes or sharing his faith and his wife will stay quietly in the background, not sharing any part of that ministry. Or a woman will have an unbelieving husband, or a husband who has no desire to be involved in serving Jesus.
Aquila and Priscilla didn’t have that problem. They were both blessed by having a spouse who would work side by side with them. Aquila and Priscilla had the ideal marriage:
¨ I believe they PRAYED together
¨ They PLANNED together
¨ And, they WORKED together
They weren’t in competition with each other. They worked together in partnership. And because of that, because they were a married couple that "pulled together" Apollos (a good, but misinformed preacher) was transformed into a powerhouse for God.
Look again at Acts 18:24-28. (READ) Did you catch what its saying there? It’s telling us, that because Priscilla and Aquila invited Apollos over to their home for coffee and donuts and worked together to teach him more about the Christian faith, Apollos now was able to receive the encouragement and resources of the other believers there. He received their blessing and was able to accomplish even more for the cause of Christ.
III. Aquila and Priscilla had the IDEAL Christian marriage. They worked together and accomplished something they might never have achieved alone.
AND that’s why they are the only couple mentioned like this, with both names recorded for us to remember.
Not only did they work together to instruct Apollos about baptism, but Paul tells us a couple of other things about them.
Romans 16:3-5 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I, but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.
Paul thought of Aquila and Priscilla as his “fellow workers.” What had they done to make themselves such reliable helpers to Paul? Well, for one thing… they had started a church in their home.
In both Romans and I Corinthians Paul referred to churches that met in their home. That apparently “meant something” to Paul. You see, Priscilla and Aquila weren’t just Sunday morning Christians putting in an hour a week and calling it "square" with God. This couple were actively building up their faith & the faith of others. They were holding church in their own home.
ILLUS: When I first came to Logansport, some of you told me how you became Christians because somebody started a “Church” (we call them in home Bible studies) in their home and invited you. So, you came to the study one night, and were later baptized into Christ. You might not have stepped inside a church building, but because these people started a “church” in their home, you felt comfortable enough to take part and hear about Jesus. And that has changed your life forever – just like Apollos was changed.
ILLUS: When my sister Barbranne was part of a church in Texas, she started a “church” in her home. She didn’t teach - she wanted someone else to do that – but she provided the place and the refreshments, and she bro’t in a teacher who talked with her friends and her neighbors about Jesus and Scripture.
ILLUS: Matt Harris, who has started a congregation out in Iowa, told me about families that would have a back yard BBQ and invite friends and neighbors over so he could present a short pitch for "in home Bible studies."
In home Bible Studies are some of the most effective ways of reaching others for Christ. People will come to a non-threatening atmosphere like your home because they know you.
IV. Now, it’s ideal if a married couple can start a church in their home... BECAUSE - they are ALREADY a team.
They know how to cooperate with each other and compliment each other. They have the opportunity to talk with each other and pray together regularly. BUT, if you’re not married, or if your spouse isn’t a Christian, you can still start a church in your home. You can still host your friends & supply refreshments. AND if you and your “partner in ministry” can teach... well, all the better.
We believe in this idea so much (here at Logansport) that we’ve supplied a sign up sheet
CLOSE: Church – when it’s done right – isn’t about superstars. It isn’t about powerful preachers and impressive church buildings. IT’S ABOUT individual Christians saying: “I want to make a difference!” “I want to be part of a team that brings my friends and relatives to Christ”
Church when it’s done right is where we all work together - partners in pulling - and we build a church that pleases Jesus.
John Wooden is considered by many to be the basketball coach of all time. He coached the UCLA Bruins to more college basketball championships than any other NCAA coach in history. What was his secret to success? Teamwork. Not just the “Come on guys, let’s all work together like a team” kind of thing while every player really does his own thing. Wooden produced the genuine article.
Every year he put together the best group of players he could find. And the 5 men who best complemented each other and worked together are the ones he started. But he didn’t consider them to be any more important than the substitutes, his assistants, or even the equipment manager. His motto was, “The most important player when we win – is the rest of the team.”
Wooden used to encourage his players to acknowledge the assists of their teammates. If one player received a pass that allowed him to score, Wooden wanted that player to give the other man a wink or point to him/ as they moved down to the opposite end of the court.
“But what if the other player isn’t looking when you point him out?” a new player asked Wooden once. Wooden just smiled, “Oh don’t worry. He’ll be looking.”