Priscilla has always been one of my favorite women in the Bible. She’s a devoted wife, a hard-working hostess, and a bold evangelist. She’s a role model worthy of following.
Priscilla is mentioned in four different books of the Bible – Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Timothy. Each time, her name is mentioned it’s in conjunction with her husband Aquila. Four times, her name is listed first. The other two times, his comes first.
We’re introduced to the couple in Acts 18. During his second missionary journey Paul arrived in Corinth and met Priscilla and Aquila. They were Italians who recently immigrated to Corinth when Claudius commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.
Since Paul was a tent maker by trade, and so were Priscilla and Aquila, they invited him to stay in their home and work with them while he was in town. On the weekends he’d go to the local synagogue and teach both Jews and Greeks.
After a year and a half in Corinth, Paul continued on with his missionary journey, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. They sailed for Syria, and when they got to Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila remained while Paul went on to Caesarea and Antioch. They set up shop there and started a home church.
During their time in Ephesus, a gifted orator named Apollos came to town. He was highly educated and trained in the art of speaking. He was passionate about preaching the gospel, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak, they realized that his spiritual education was lacking. He knew about Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist, but didn’t know about Jesus beyond that. So the wise couple pulled him aside and taught him about Christ more thoroughly. He received their teaching and went on to preach the gospel to many more.
It appears from Romans 16:3-5 that at some point Priscilla and Aquila returned to Rome and had a home church there. We also learn that they had risked their lives for the sake of Paul and he was grateful.
From Paul’s greeting to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:19, we know that they returned to Ephesus and served with Timothy.
The Rest of the Story
We often associate Paul as being anti-women, but if we delve more deeply into his writings, we realize from his treatment of Priscilla and other women that nothing could be further from the truth. Paul could have focused entirely on the men involved in the early church, but he didn’t. Acts is filled with accounts of women like Priscilla serving alongside men in the church. Paul’s letters to the churches include numerous mentions of women who were sharing the gospel to a lost world.
Paul made a point to mention Priscilla and Aquila in four different books of the Bible. He introduced them. He shared how they opened their home and business to him. He let readers know how they’d instructed Apollos, that they hosted at least one home church, and that they had risked their lives for his sake. He greeted them when he was separated from them, and he shared their greetings to fellow believers when he was with them.
He considered them co-laborers in the Lord. Not once does he say anything negative.
Priscilla and her husband Aquila are such an interesting couple. They are always mentioned together. Everything they did, they did as one. Not only are their names always together, but much of the time, her name is listed before his. Why is that?
The Bible writers always made a point to put the most important or relevant person first. So why was her name first sometimes? Let’s look closely at the order of each mention.
In Acts when the couple is first introduced, Paul says he met Aquila and his wife Priscilla. Acts 18:2 tells us that Aquila had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla. It was natural that Paul would first meet the husband and then the wife.
In Acts 18:24-26, we learn about Apollos and how Aquila and Priscilla pulled him aside to better train him. Depending on your Bible translation, it will vary which name comes first, but many of the earliest manuscripts put her name first, which is extremely interesting to have the woman leading the teaching.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he sends a greeting to Priscilla and Aquila, his fellow workers who risked their lives for him. Priscilla’s name comes first. In the same greeting he mentions a number of other women serving the Lord in great ways.
In 1 Corinthians 16:19, Paul closes his letter to the Corinthians by letting them know that Aquila and Priscilla greet them, along with the church meeting in their home. This would make sense that Aquila would come first since he would be the actual leader of the church.
Finally, in Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he tells him to greet Prisca and Aquila. Prisca is the formal form of Priscilla, and I wonder if he used this greeting since Timothy was a young man and he may have called her Prisca out of respect for her.
Whatever the reasoning behind the word order, it is obvious that Priscilla was a special friend of Paul’s. We can also tell what a close knit marriage they had in that they did everything together and were almost seen as one person. Paul spent extended time with Priscilla and Aquila. He knew the strong bond they had with each other and obviously admired the way they worked together for the good of the Lord.
As Christian women we often have a hard time finding our place in the world. Where do we fit within the church? What is appropriate and what isn’t? The Bible includes many accounts of single women dedicating their lives to serving God and others. Single Bible women served in any number of ways, whether through hospitality, sewing, cooking, providing financially… Without the constraints of family, they were able to commit more fully and give more generously.
What about if we’re married? How better can we minister than as a ministry partner with our husbands? Just like with Priscilla and Aquila, sometimes one will be stronger and take the lead. Other times the other. But if we work together as a team, each supporting the other, we can accomplish so much more than we could alone.
Are you actively spreading the word of God to those around you? Are you sharing the gospel through your words and deeds? Are you ministering to the poor and needy? Are you opening your home for gatherings of believers?
God calls each of us to different missions. He equips us to accomplish whatsoever assignment he gives us. Be praying today what is is that He would have you to do, and then get to work doing it.
Lord God, thank You for the beautiful testimony of Priscilla. Thank You for showing us what a godly woman looks like. Thank You for letting us know how much you value women. Thank You for using us today just as You used Priscilla back then. Be with us in all that we do. Give us wisdom and discernment so that we might serve with a submissive heart. Forgive us those time we lose sight of Your mission and go off on missions all our own. Gently lead us back to You. Just as You sent Priscilla and Aquila to guide Apollos, please place godly individuals in our lives who will gently point out to us when we get things wrong and lead back onto the straight and narrow. Be with us in the days ahead. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week when we look at Philip’s daughters,
more New Testament women used by God to spread the gospel.
Her Story: Acts 18, Romans 16:3-5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19
Bible Study Review
- What brought Priscilla and Aquila to Corinth?
- What was Priscilla’s trade?
- Where did Priscilla live?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why did Priscilla and Aquila go with Paul on his missionary journey then stop in Ephesus?
- Why did they host a church in their home?
- How might they have risked their lives?
- If you’re married, do you serve in harmony with your husband?
- Are you willing to serve however God calls you?
- Do you mentor other Christians who aren’t as far along as you are?
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