Church Life, Women in the Bible

Priscilla & Aquila: Equality in Ministry

WE ARE MEETING PRISCILLA…

And the place to find her is in Acts of the Apostles chapter 18 where we were first introduced to her.

Today’s TEXT:
Acts of the Apostles 18:1‭-‬2: “Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome.”

First of all, this immigration problem is not recent, is it? But that’s not the discussion for today.

Let’s start with little bit of history.

WHO WAS PRISCILLA?

Priscilla (or Prisca for short) was the wife of a Jewish man known as Aquila.

Aquila was a Jew born in Pontus – a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, not so far from Galatia (in modern say Eastern Turkey); but at some point, he migrated to Rome. It is unsure whether Priscilla was Jewish or Roman or other nationality. What we know is that she lived with her husband who was Jewish, and their home was in Rome, Italy. And no doubt, they were both seasoned Christians.

In the year 52 A.D. the Roman emperor Claudius issued an edict expelling all Jews from the city of Rome.

The reason, it seemed, (according to Roman historian Suetonius), was that the Jews were persecuting their Christian neighbours and causing considerable disturbance in the city. And if there is anything the Roman government was afraid of, it was religious extremism and trouble makers. Emperor Claudius cared little about the reason for the trouble, and even less about who the guilty parties were. He knew they were Jews, and that was enough; so all Jews were uprooted from their homes and banished from Rome, the innocent along with the guilty.

After their deportation, Aquila together with his wife Priscilla relocated to Corinth – as it is apparently unsafe to remain in any part of Italy. So, Aquila and Priscilla left Italy and found their way to nearby Corinth and settled there, pursuing their trade as tent-makers.… Talk about couples in the same trade…

Image result for beautiful tents
A Beautiful Tent… (Source: Internet)

THE JOURNEY OF PAUL

After his dramatic conversion and early life at Antioch, Paul partnered with his friend Barnabas, and they went on missionary journeys together. They travelled from Antioch to many places in Asia minor until….. their abrupt split over a strong disagreement.

Barnabas took his cousin John Mark (author of Mark) and went to their hometown in Cyprus. While Paul chose a new missionary partner by the name SILAS (Acts chapter 15).

With Silas, Paul started his new ministry, taking with him the likes of Timothy and Luke. The Holy Spirit pushed them farther away from Asia minor to Europe. They traveled to Philippi in Macedonia, Thessalonica, Berea and of course Athens in Greece, to mention a few. He met with lots of drama and persecutions…

After all the drama, Paul left for Corinth. (Remember Corinth? Where Priscilla and Aquila stayed?)

PAUL – PRISCILLA – AQUILA: A TRIPOD PARTNERSHIP

When Paul, a tent-maker himself, came to Corinth, he went to see Priscilla and Aquila, no doubt having heard of their faith in Christ.

Paul lived and worked in partnership with them while also founding the church at Corinth.

For the first-time in a long while, Paul had a home where he wasn’t beaten and persecuted and had to run away. For the first time in a long while, Paul could practice his secular trade to maintain himself while he built a Church. All because of Priscilla and Aquila. They prepared the place in advance.

Today, we have the 2 epistles of Paul to the Corinthians to show for it!

Sometimes later, in his letter to the Romans, Paul spoke very highly of this couple

Romans 16: 3&4: “Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches.”

LIFE AT EPHESUS

After a year and a half, Paul returned to Asia – he left for Ephesus and took Aquila and Priscilla with him. As ministry partners. And years later, Paul left Ephesus as he continued with his missionary journey…

The couple Priscilla and Aquila stayed in Ephesus, again establishing a church in their home (1 Corinthians 16:19). When Paul was writing to the Corinthians, he reminded them of their founding members – Priscilla and Aquila and sent greetings from the couple to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 16:19: “The churches of Asia send greetings to you. Aquila and Prisca greet you warmly in the Lord, with the church that meets in their house”.

Image result for church at home
Home Church – Priscilla and Aquila. Source: Marg Mowczko

Years later, Apollo – an eloquent speaker but a “shallow” Christian came to Ephesus and was preaching about the Baptism of John the Baptist. Apollo apparently knew nothing much about the works of Jesus and the works of the Holy Spirit….. Anyways, the couple took him in and trained him properly….

Did you know that even Paul competed with this Apollo guy for recognition in the churches? Apollo was that influential. But that did not bother Priscilla as she and her husband personally schooled this gentleman.

Several years down the line, Timothy became the Pastor of the Church at Ephesus. And as Paul wrote his final letter – 2 Timothy, he did not forget to ask about his old friends.

2 Timothy 4:19: “Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and those living in the household of Onesiphorus.”

PRISCILLA & AQUILA: EQUAL PARTNERS

Priscilla and Aquila were mentioned SEVEN times in the New Testament. In all of these instances, Priscilla was mentioned alongside her husband Aquila. In fact, in five of the seven times their two names are mentioned together (Acts 18:18-19, 26; Rom. 16:3; 2 Tim. 4:19), PRISCILLA was listed first before AQUILA!! The only 2 times Aquila was mentioned first were: Acts of the Apostles 18:1‭-‬2 and Corinthians 16:19 quoted above.

Priscilla was one woman in the Bible, in the New Testament, who demonstrated equality in ministry with the likes of her husband Aquila, Apollo, Timothy and even Paul.

The New Testament references to Priscilla and Aquila make it clear that, despite the male-dominant culture, Aquila was not the leader and Priscilla his assistant. She didn’t fade in the background, learning obediently and in silence.

Because it was the custom to list the husband’s name first, this reversal indicates Priscilla’s importance in the minds of the New Testament writers Luke and Paul. It also indicates that Priscilla was not teaching as a secondary partner under the ‘covering’ of her husband’s spiritual authority.

Image result for equality vs submission
Priscilla-Aquila Team… Equality in Ministry…  Couples’ goal…

If there were a universal spiritual principle requiring a woman to be subordinate to the teaching authority of the man, Priscilla would not have been referred to in terms indicating either her equality or her prominence in the Priscilla-Aquila teaching team.

A PHENOMENAL WOMAN

Priscilla was indeed a phenomenal woman…

A tent maker…

A missionary….

And the kind of no nonsense person who could challenge the types of eloquent Apollo….

A woman of might and vision.

Her faith and determination remains a motivation for Christian ladies of all times and ages. 🌹

 

All scriptures are from The Holy Bible, New Living Translation

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