In these next two articles that I will be posting, I will be focusing on how the marriage of Aquila and Priscilla and the works that they did for the cause of Christ can be used as positive examples for Christians today. I will include a bibliography of sources which were used in writing these articles in my next post.
Marriage is such an important institution, as it has always been. God set up the institution of marriage so that man and woman could be joined together in what should be the most intimate and close relationship that one can be in with another mortal person. Of course, our closest relationship should be with God, our Father. In a marriage, both men and women have the responsibility of fulfilling both their physical and spiritual roles to each other. Not only are a husband and a wife supposed to be physically intimate with one another and bear children, they are also supposed to help each other reach Heaven. The example of a good marriage can also influence others in a positive way, and lead them to Christ as well. With the divorce rate being so high in today’s time, it is so important that faithful Christians marry other faithful Christians so that they have a better chance of making their union last a lifetime. For any marriage to be successful, the married couple has to put God first above all else. Such unions that are based on putting God first, can be found in the Bible, and we can learn from the examples that these marriages set before us.
While reading the Holy Scriptures, there are many people who are mentioned as doing both good and bad works throughout their lives. Some of these people are part of a married unit who work together to serve God and to do good works for others. In the midst of a sinful world where so many practiced wrongdoing, such couples as Aquila and Priscilla left examples of righteous and faithful followers and teachers of God for future generations. Aquila was a strong leader of his family who taught the Word to whoever was willing to listen, and his wife, Priscilla served as a wonderful helpmeet and teacher for her husband, also. The lives of these two have influenced generations on how a godly marriage should work, as well as how women can be a very important asset to the spreading of the Gospel.
Aquila and his wife, Priscilla, are mentioned in several books of the New Testament.
The first book that these two are mentioned in is the book of Acts of the Apostles. The book of Acts was written by the apostle, Luke, and it covers the establishment of the church of Christ, as well as all of the spiritual works that the apostles were involved in after Jesus’ death and resurrection. In Acts Chapter 18, Paul had been travelling from place to place, preaching the Gospel of Christ. He had just left the city of Athens, where he had some opposition from the Jewish people. The men in Athens had been involved in the practice of worshipping idols, and Paul had faced persecution of mocking there due to his rebuking of the men in Athens. After leaving Athens, Paul came into the town of Corinth. It was in Corinth, that Paul met the godly couple who were of the Jewish faith. “And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.” (Acts 18:2). The Jews had been expelled from Rome by the Roman emperor Claudius sometime between 41 A.D. and 53 A.D., according to some scholars.
Aquila’s birthplace is recorded as Pontus, which was a city in the southern portion of the Black Sea in what is now part of Turkey.
Luke does not specify where Priscilla was born or whether she was a Jew like Aquila or of another ethnic background. Also, Luke does not divulge how Priscilla met and came to marry Aquila.
Luke records the occupation of Aquila and Priscilla as tentmakers. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers (Acts 18:3). Tents were a vital source of shelter for the Hebrew people, so it is no surprise that Aquila and Priscilla chose to make their living by performing this trade. Paul was also a tentmaker, as Luke stated, so in this he found commonality with this couple. This fact encouraged Paul to stay with Aquila and Priscilla and perform the task of making tents with them.
It is unclear as to when Aquila and Priscilla became Christians, but they had converted at some point because both accompanied Paul to Syria, according to Acts 18:18. This verse states, “And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.” Paul then went on in his travels, while leaving Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus (Acts 18:19). It is in Ephesus that we see the first example of Aquila and Priscilla working together as a
team to help convert others to Christ through their teaching of Apollos. Acts 18:24-28 says:
"And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ".
According to McGarvey’s commentary, Apollos was a very knowledgeable man, but his knowledge was limited to only recognizing the baptism of John the Baptist. Apollos was lacking in the information concerning being immersed in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost for remission of sins, having only received the baptism of John, which was for the remission of sins, also. McGarvey also states that there is no evidence that Apollos was baptized again after Aquila and Priscilla taught him about the Lord’s baptism. Apollos had been baptized with John’s baptism when that baptism was in effect. Something impressive about how Aquila and Priscilla approached Apollos is that they took him aside, rather than admonish him in front of others. This shows the humility and love that the couple had for this man, which exemplifies what Ephesians 4:15 says, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” Once hearing the Word of God and being converted to Christianity, Apollos goes onto preach the Word himself. This example shows the willingness that Aquila and Priscilla had to not only work together in their work as tentmakers, but also in their spiritual work as well.
Aquila and Priscilla are also mentioned by Paul outside of the book of Acts. In Romans chapter 16, the couple are spoken very highly of by their friend and fellow brother in Christ. “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ” (Romans 16:3-5). These verses not only show the love that Aquila and Priscilla had for Paul, but also of the love they had for spreading the Gospel, even to the point of teaching others in their own house. In these worship services which took place in Aquila and Priscilla’s home, Priscilla acted as a helpmeet to Aquila in teaching the Gospel, rather than taking authority away from him. The church that Aquila and Priscilla held in their home was also mentioned by Paul in I Corinthians, where he says, “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house” (I Corinthians 16:19).
During the time period in which Aquila and Priscilla lived, it was common that Christians would meet in homes rather than in church buildings due to the lack of actual buildings being built specifically for worship. It appears that the church that Aquila and Priscilla had in their home was ongoing, which meant that they both were very dedicated to the spiritual work of teaching others the Gospel. As in the situation where both Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos aside to teach him, in no way did Priscilla take away the authority of her husband in that instance, and likewise, she did not usurp the authority of the men in worship. This is yet another example of how this couple worked so well together.