Most of the entries in this series have been individuals. But one of my favorite examples of Christians punching above their weight is a married couple: Priscilla and Aquila. They demonstrate that a husband and wife, devoted to one another and devoted to God, can accomplish much for the Lord.
Priscilla means “little old lady” and Aquila means “eagle.” The Bible always mentions them together. In Acts 18:1-4, Luke describes them as Jews from the distant province of Pontus, who had been living in Rome until they were exiled by the edict of Claudius. Paul met them in Corinth while reasoning in the synagogue. Paul “stayed with them.” Whether they became Christians before or after they met Paul is difficult to know.
Paul began working with Priscilla and Aquila because they were of the same trade. But they continued working together for the same Lord! Paul preached in Corinth for 18 months. When the persecution became intense, he departed for his home base of Antioch. Priscilla and Aquila boarded the ship with him (Acts 18:18). Paul must have had plans for them. Paul made only a brief stop in Ephesus, and left Priscilla and Aquila there (18:19) while he went on to Antioch. Clearly, Paul had a tremendous degree of confidence in their ability to establish the gospel work in Ephesus in his absence, until he could return on his third journey.
Stop and consider the commitment Priscilla and Aquila showed by moving their home and business to serve God. I have known many who moved for a better job, a better climate, a better house, but not many who moved to help a church. This would require husband and wife to be in perfect agreement with putting God’s work ahead of their own desires.
Paul’s trust in them was well-placed. Acts 18:24-28 tells how Apollos, “an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man,” taught boldly for Jesus, but misunderstood the purpose of baptism. Priscilla and Aquila “took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Imagine two tentmakers from the frontier having the knowledge and courage to gently teach an educated, fervent, eloquent man from Alexandria. He was “mighty in the Scriptures” but still had something to learn from the “little old lady” and her husband! Thankfully Apollos stood corrected, and went on to win many souls in Corinth.
When a married couple is committed to God, they become a powerful force. When she has to prepare excellent material for her Sunday school class, he picks up the slack in chores. When he must take an evening to teach a prospect, she doesn’t bemoan the loss of private relaxation. They gladly sacrifice for the privilege of growing the kingdom.
Priscilla and Aquila must have stayed a while, for when Paul returns to Ephesus and writes a letter to Corinth, he sends their greetings. He also mentions “the church that is in their house” (1 Corinthians 16:19). This reveals another example of their joint dedication. They hosted, at minimum, a weekly worship service in their home. Both husband and wife must be devoted to hospitality to view this constant intrusion as a worthwhile blessing. Think of how hard it is these days to convince a family to host a single pot luck. Now, imagine hosting the whole congregation, every Sunday! There would be no staying in bed because of aches or sniffles or the cold. Priscilla and Aquila arranged every aspect of their lives according to the priorities of the kingdom.
Hospitality was their pattern everywhere they lived. Some months later, when Paul wrote Romans, Priscilla and Aquila had moved back to Rome. Paul mentions them and says, “greet the church that is in their house” (Romans 16:3-5). What an enthusiastic couple!
Paul says one other thing about these “fellow workers in Christ Jesus,” in Romans 16:3-5—they “for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.” Their work involved danger. There were perhaps many instances in which their property and safety were threatened (Acts 18:5-17). All the Gentiles who traced their eternal salvation back to their goodness and faithfulness made the physical risks worthwhile. Would that we modern couples would be so kind and so bold!
Priscilla and Aquila were in it for life. They are some of the last people Paul mentions as he closes his final letter (2 Timothy 4:19), probably from a cold cell. They are still busy, still beloved, some twenty years after their first meeting.
Married Christians, be a team for Christ. Help one another get to worship, encourage one another to serve the brethren, make it easy for one another to reach out to unbelievers. Agree to arrange your careers, your child-rearing, your finances, your travels, your hobbies, even your retirement, for the glory of the Lord. –John Guzzetta