After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. (Acts 18:1-2)
Most people have little or no idea who Aquila and Priscilla were. They are not the big-name characters in the Bible like Peter or Paul. But if we read carefully between the lines of Scripture we learn that Aquila and Priscilla had a very important role to play in the development of the Christian Church. Even more important is the fact that like thousands of Christians who are key members of congregations down through the ages, they represent the kind of faithfulness that has moved Christianity ahead in practical and concrete ways.
At the very beginning of his Corinthian ministry, Paul initiated friendship with them because they shared the trade of tent-making. Aquila and Priscilla accepted Paul into their lives, gave him work, and listened to his teachings about Jesus. Soon Aquila and Priscilla joined with Paul in the ministry of the Gospel. Quiet, solid members of the congregation, they had the aptitude and fortitude to advance a true understanding of the Christian way.
Aquila and Priscilla became so engaged in the work of Christian Ministry that they accompanied Paul when he traveled to Ephesus on his way home from the second Missionary journey. In fact, a careful reading of Acts 18:18-28 reveals that Paul left the development of the Ephesus mission in their hands. The Holy Spirit helped them by providing a rising star in Christian ministry, a graduate of the greatest university in the world of that time, Alexandria. His name was Apollos and his eloquence and competence was simply stunning. However, he lacked the finer points of Christian understanding because his training had come from followers of John the Baptist, not Christ’s own disciples. Priscilla and Aquilla, lay members of a Christian congregation, took him aside and completed his education as a Christian preacher and teacher. Some scholars suggest that this is the story of the first Christian seminary. Whether that is true or not, the Spirit worked through his lay church to prepare a fine pastor for life-long ministry.
We would do well today to hold up Priscilla and Aquila as models for the Christian life. Their quiet work in full support of their congregations is a better example for how most Christians should be than even the apostles themselves. The cumulative effect of Priscilla and Aquila’s faithfulness on the generations of Christians to follow is simply incalculable. But, we can be confident that they lived their lives led and gifted by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of Christ’s church to the same degree as any of the apostles.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. (Romans 16:3)