It’s impossible to think of Priscilla apart from her husband, Aquila. In six New Testament mentions, they are always named together. And while we don’t have a lot of information about them, some “forensic Bible study” uncovers one of the more fascinating and inspiring couples in Scripture
Luke, the writer of Acts, tells us this husband-wife team was originally from Pontus (the northern part of Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey). We know they lived and worked in Italy up until the time Claudius (the emperor between Caligula and Nero) expelled all Jews from Rome (see Acts 18:2). Then, relocating to Greece around AD 51, their lives changed dramatically: in Corinth they crossed paths with the apostle Paul.
Like Paul, Priscilla and Aquila were Jewish (Acts 18:2). Like Paul, they were fervently devoted to the gospel of Christ (Rom 16:3). Like Paul, “they were tentmakers by trade” (Acts 18:3). Not surprisingly, a deep friendship formed. We don’t know if Priscilla and Aquila were childless or empty nesters. We only know that for an unspecified time in Corinth, Paul lived with and worked alongside this couple. Soon he began to minister with them.
When Paul sensed God’s prompting to return to his sending church in Antioch, he sent sail from Corinth-accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. When their Syria-bound ship stopped briefly in order to help minister to the fledgling church there (Acts 18:18-21).
Aquila and Priscilla’s impact in Ephesus was significant. Luke wrote about the arrival of a brilliant Jewish scholar named Apollos, a powerful communicator with an obvious love for Christ. However, when Priscilla and Aquila heard him teach in the synagogue at Ephesus, they realized his understanding of the gospel needed some fine-tuning. So they “took him home and explained the way of God to him more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Largely because of their hospitality and wise input, Apollos became an effective leader in the early church (Acts 18:27-28)
For Priscilla and Aquila, such gospel-centered hospitality wasn’t a one-time event. Three or four years later (AD 55 or early 56), Paul returned to Ephesus. Corresponding from there with the believers in Corinth, he wrote, “The church of Asia greet you, Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, along with the church that meets in their home” (1 Cor 16:19) Aquila and Priscilla weren’t clergy-they ran a small business! But the picture that emerges is one of a gracious couple that warmly welcomed people into their hearts and home so they could love on them with the love of Christ.
A year or so later, Paul was in Corinth, writing from there a letter to the church at Rome. Notice what he said: “Give my greetings to Prisca [the more intimate form of Priscilla] Aquila, my coworkers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life. Not only do I thank them, but so do all the Gentile churches. Greet also the church that meets in their home” (Rom 16:3-5).
Amazingly, this well-traveled couple was back in Rome, picking up where they had left off years before, Another move, more ministry, greater impact. And still they weren’t done. Some ten years later, Paul wrote his last letter. It was a reminder-filled note to Timothy (who was pastoring in Ephesus). In closing, the old apostle-wrote, “Greet Prisca and Aquila” (2 Tim 4:19).
It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which Paul surely asked a final favor of his aging, long-term ministry partners: “Aquila and Priscilla, would you be willing to relocate one more time? My young prot’ege’, Timothy, could sure use a couple with your wisdom and insight as he pastors in Ephesus.”
It’s not hard to envision them packing their bags that very day.
1 CORINTHAINS 16:19 – “The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, along with the church that meets in their home.”