Summary: Bible Couples, Pt. 10 (Final) "Aquila and Priscilla"
TWO HALVES MAKE A WHOLE (ACTS 18:1-4, 18-26)
A couple was celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. Their domestic tranquility had long been the talk of the town. A local newspaper reporter was inquiring as to the secret of their long and happy marriage.
"Well, it dates back to our honeymoon," explained the man. "We visited the Grand Canyon and took a trip down to the bottom on the canyon by pack mule. We hadn’t gone too far when my wife’s mule stumbled. My wife quietly said, ’That’s once.’ We proceeded a little further and the mule stumbled again. Once more my wife quietly said, ’That’s twice.’
We hadn’t gone a half-mile when the mule stumbled the third time. My wife quietly removed a revolver from her pocket and shot the mule dead. I started to protest over her treatment of the mule when she looked at me and quietly said ’That’s once.’”
A lot of people do not like to work with their spouse in the same company. They are less efficient in the same office or team together. They get in each other’ business, way, space, hair and face. Guys, especially, are anxious that their spouse will show them up, put them down, or run the show before their superiors, peers or employees.
However, it is different in the Lord and in ministry. Flying solo in ministry is impossible. A spouse should welcome and encourage the other half and the whole family to serve alongside. Without spousal support, a willing person’s ministry is stagnant and stifled. The person’s participation or growth is minimum if the spouse has little or no desire to attend worship, fellowship and activities has no desire to serve and does not want the spouse to fellowship or socialize with brothers and sisters. A person on fire for the Lord will find his flame doused by cold water when a spouse in uninterested in ministry and lacking in zeal. It’s been said, “There is no “I” word in TEAM.”
The most effective Bible couple in ministry is Aquila and Priscilla, tent-making Jews who left Rome because of ethnic persecution. When they first met Paul, they knew little or nothing about ministry but their eyes were opened to the possibilities of using their gifts, trying something new, and multiplying their ministry. They are the typical couple, not the traditional couple, today.
Grow As a Team
18:1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. (Acts 18:1-4)
18 Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken. (Acts 18:18)
My wife and I use our own last names in professional circles. Unlike many wives, she did not change her last name for tax purposes, because she did not like the idea of changing so many documents. My wife does her part and her best in ministry. I never have to pressure her about her role in the ministry. Mostly, as a pastor’s wife, she has a supporting role in church ministry, and never the leading role in fellowship or study groups.
However, my wife does voluntary services beyond church circles with her gifts. She takes live calls on Cantonese radio AM 1430 on mental health issues once a month when her schedule permits, using her professional name Dr. Mok, and few pastor friends have a clue that she is my wife. We are comfortable with the arrangement.
The arrangement has more advantages than disadvantages. For one, pastors cannot go through me to ask my wife to speak, because they do not know we are related! Two, we have our own identity. I do not want to be known as Dr. Mok’s husband. Her identity is her own, and not as the pastor’s wife. Further, the odd-sounding, dog-barking name of Yap does a psychologist no favors. Still, I often cringe when telemarketers ask the question when they couldn’t get my wife at home: “Are you Mr. Mok?” Mostly, I am in no mood to explain to a complete stranger. Usually I just politely but abruptly hang up the phone. Often I have to correct her office people who call me “Mr. Mok.” I safely guess most husbands would cringe when outsiders address them by their spouse’s last name!
One of the most beautiful husband and wife ministry team in the Bible is seldom mentioned and given enough credit. Aquila and Priscialla were strong enough to share credit. The team is sometimes known as the Aquila and Priscilla team (Acts 18:2, 1 Cor 16:19), but more often they were known as the Priscilla and Aquila team (Acts 18:18, 19, 26, Rom 16:3, 2 Tim 4:19). At the first mention of their names, Luke, author of Acts, listed Aquila’s name before the wife’s name as the husband of Priscilla (Acts 18:2) but hinted that Priscilla was more outstanding or more involved than her husband by putting her name first on the next three occasions (Acts 18:18, 19, 26). Publicly, Paul had no qualms about calling them the wife and husband team in his writings to the church and individuals. In Paul’s much-read letter to the Corinthians, he calls them Aquila and Priscilla (1 Cor 16:19), but in his letters to the Romans and to Timothy he calls them Priscilla and Aquila (Rom 16:3, 2 Tim 4:19). Overall, Aquila’s name comes before Priscilla twice, but Priscilla’s name preceded Aquila five times. You can say, as many Bible commentators do, that Priscilla quickly overtook Aquila as the team leader or contact person.