Summary: Priscilla and her husband Aquila made a huge impression on Paul. What are the charecterstics which enabled them to be used so mightily in the early churches?
Priscilla – A study on Ministry and Leadership
Let us start with a little trivia
1. How many times is Priscilla’s name mentioned in the bible? (7)
2. How many times is her name mentioned alone, without her husband’s name ? (0)
3. What did they have in common with Paul before they met? (tent making profession)
4. In what order is their names mentioned (Twice Aquila first, and 5 times Priscilla first)
5. How long did Paul stay with Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth? (18 months)
In the year 52 A.D. the Roman emperor Claudius issued an edict expelling all Jews from the city of Rome. It seems, from what the Roman historian Suetonius says, that they were persecuting their Christian neighbors and causing considerable disturbance in the city. Claudius cared little about the reason for the trouble, and even less about who the guilty parties were. He knew they were Jews, and that was enough; so all Jews were uprooted from their homes and banished from Rome, the innocent along with the guilty. This included a Jew named Aquila, who had migrated to Rome from the province of Pontus on the Black Sea, and he decided to migrate to the city of Corinth. By his side was his faithful wife, Priscilla. We do not know for certain whether she was Jewish or Roman, nor are we sure whether or not they were both Christians at the time. 52 AD would be approaching two decades after Peter’s Pentecost sermon of Acts chapter two. When Peter’s preaching brought thousands of people into the church by faith on Pentecost, there were visitors from both Pontus and Rome (Acts 2:9-11) who carried their new faith back to their homelands. Aquila and Priscilla were possibly already Christians when they opened their home to Paul in Corinth. This is not confirmed. Bible scholar Lenski notes that Priscilla’s name was Roman, possibly connected with the Acilan gens, which would have made her a noble Roman lady (Lenski, "The Interpretation of Romans", pg. 903). Priscilla or Prisca means "primitive", i.e. original, venerable (Commanding respect by virtue of age, dignity, character, or position). Aquila, means "eagle"
This couple whose names are always mentioned together did some marvelous work for the Lord. By the fact that Priscilla’s name is mentioned first more times (against the custom), it is safe to assume that Priscilla was sort of the leader among them. Let us see the events in their lives and see what we can learn from those events
1. They worked together, ministered together, and are mentioned together always: A true model couple. While it is clear that males followed the occupation of their fathers, there is no rule that was evident that the wife joined the profession of the husband. We do not see this practice in the other NT couples (Mary and Joseph) or Peter’s wife etc. but we do see that Priscilla chose to work together with her husband and make a living together. When one reads the New Testament, it is striking how few couples are mentioned in the first century church. We find men, both married and single, who are prominent and we find women who are prominent in the church but we find very few couples. Of those few, Aquila and Priscilla, especially stand out. It is also noteworthy to note that even after they got into ministry, they continued their profession, and earned their living, while continuing their ministry.
2. God uses this profession to connect Priscilla with Paul. When Paul arrived in town fresh from an evangelistic crusade in Athens, he must have started looking for people in the tent making profession to do some work, and make sure that he has an earning. We are well aware of the fact that Paul always worked for his living, and that he was a tentmaker too. So the Lord brought them together and Priscilla was hospitable enough to invite Paul into their home and let him stay with them. (Acts 18:1-3). A lasting friendship was born between them. We see God using Priscilla’s hospitality to put his plans into action further for the church here.
3. If Priscilla and Aquila did not know the Lord before, the stay of Paul would sure have sealed the issue for them. No one could be in Paul’s presence for a reasonably long time and not be infected by his passion for the Lord. After all, we are talking about the Paul who almost converted King Agrippa. We see the shift in focus of Paul’s ministry and the fruits that his ministry was bearing (Acts 18:4-11). Paul stayed with Priscilla and Aquila for a long 18 months. We see here, Priscilla and Aquila playing perfect hosts, happy to remain the background and silently supporting the great missionary. Later events will show that during this stay Priscilla and Aquila became very strong in the word, and that is not surprising; they had a great teacher in Paul. We see God using Priscilla to launch a great ministry by Paul.