This couple is mentioned several times in the Bible. They seem like people we all could know and love. What makes them different? ◊
After the Apostle Paul’s famous oratory event in Athens (see The Greeks in ACTS 17), we are told that he went on to the bustling city of Corinth, a thriving center of commerce and travel in the Roman Empire.
Here he meets an intriguing Jewish couple named Aquila and Priscilla (also called Prisca) who were recently exiled from Rome in an anti-Jewish purge by Emperor Claudius in AD 49. According to the Roman historian Suetonius, Emperor Claudius expelled from Rome all Jews who followed “Chrestus,” likely a misspelling of “Christ.” 1
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 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 Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. (Acts 18:1-4)
This couple is mentioned several times throughout the New Testament. They were fellow tent-makers like Paul and settled in Corinth to continue their trade in a new area as Paul continued to preach weekly to both Jews and Gentiles.
What is most fascinating about Aquila and Priscilla is that they seem like that good stalwart Christian couple that many of us know and love in and around our own lives. By all appearances and references, there were devoted, hardworking, intelligent, kind and loving people. Here are some other interesting facts about them:
- After a year and a half in Corinth, the couple journed with Paul to minister in Ephesus about 240 miles to the east.
- They stayed in Ephesus even after Paul returned to Corinth and established a church in their home.
- Priscilla may or may not have been Jewish. She may have been a Jewish convert and then both converted to Christianity after Pentecost. Some speculate she was affluent and well educated.
- They were back in Rome during the great fire in AD 64. Some speculate that they died in Rome as Christian martyrs at the hands of Caesar Nero.
This couple, always mentioned together in Scripture, dedicated their lives to the work of Christ and the growing Church of Christ-followers. They were so honored and appreciated by Paul in his New Testament letters that we note and speak of them still today as a model Christian couple working together in ministry.
An Example of Their Ministry
In ACTS 18 there’s a great story which serves to show their hearts and the power of their ministry:
Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila….They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila…..
Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. (Acts 1818-28)
Note that Priscilla and Aquila were hospitable and gracious with this man, well-intended but under-educated. They were also each knowledgeable themselves to be able to teach and instruct to great effect. They showed no ill-will or envy with a fellow believer who perhaps had a larger platform.
Paul Keeps Preaching
Meanwhile, Paul keeps doing what the Lord has led him to do:
When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”
Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” So he drove them off. Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatsoever. (Acts 18:5-18)
So is it through random chance that Paul meets Aquila and Priscilla who team up and support his ministry and influence the growth of Christianity in the region? Is it through chance that Paul is blessed and protected from enemies that would harm him still early in his ministry?
No, the Lord’s hand is on Paul as the Lord’s hand is on all who would submit and surrender to His cause and direction.
Are you steadfast like Paul? Are you devoted like Aquila and Priscilla?
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God. – Acts 18:9-11
1 Pricilla and Aquila, by Lynn H. Cohick, in BIble Odyssey, https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/places/ related-articles/priscilla-and-aquila1/20/21.