In Acts 18, Paul meets a Christian couple who become influential throughout his lifetime Aquila and Priscilla. They practiced the same profession as Paul, but more importantly, they practiced the same faith as Paul. We find wherever this remarkable couple goes, they are always working for Christ.
A man once told his grandson there are two kinds of people those who do the work and those who take the credit. He then told the boy to try to be in the first group theres less competition there. This is true of the church as much as its true of the workplace.
After this he left Athens and went to Corinth.
And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, lately come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them;
and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them, and they worked, for by trade they were tentmakers.
Aquila and Priscilla were living in Rome but they were chased out by the Emperor Claudius who expelled all Jews from Rome about 49 A.D. They settled in Corinth which was an important commercial center. While there they met the apostle Paul.
Paul was a tentmaker by trade and so were Priscilla and Aquila. Blaiklock suggests that the seating in synagogues was arranged by trade and calling, and this is how Paul met Priscilla and Aquila. It seems the couple was more than happy to help the traveling apostle. This is an example of Christian workers who were willing to share their resources with Paul. Journeying from town to town, Paul could not have carried a large amount of supplies with him. So Priscilla and Aquila provided him materials, a place to work, and perhaps even customers.
Marshall writes, "Since rabbis were expected to perform their religious and legal functions without demanding a fee; it was necessary for them to have some other source of income. Pauls occupation was as a tentmaker. Tents were made out of the goats hair cloth, known as cilicium and manufactured in Pauls native province, or else out of leather; hence the word tentmaker could refer more generally to a leather-worker, and this seems to be the meaning here. So Paul was able to reside with Aquila and Priscilla, support himself by sharing in their work, and enjoy Christian fellowship with them."
How hospitable are you? How willing are you to help others? We find over and over again that Aquila and Priscilla were opening up their home to help others. Let us learn a lesson from this couple who were so filled with Christs love that they felt compelled to share it!
As we continue our study of Aquila and Priscilla, we will see that they traveled around a lot. Apparently, they did return to Rome at some future time because Paul mentions them in his letter to the Romans.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,
who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I but also all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks;
greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ.
From this passage in Romans we discover that this godly couple risked their own lives for Paul. We dont know how this occurred, but we do know that Paul was constantly in danger from the Jewish rulers. Aquila and Priscilla were not Christians in name only. They practiced their faith and were willing to even risk their own lives for the sake of the gospel.
What are we willing to do for Christ? Lets face it. Americans are lazy Christians. Sometimes its hard enough for us to just get out of bed Sunday morning to go to church! The church in the first century faced life-threatening persecution. And yet they were willing to make the extra effort to work for Christ. Let us learn from their example. Let us not be lazy Christians, but willing Christians ready to share our faith with others and to tell others that God loves them and Christ died for them.
Not only did Aquila and Priscilla help Paul, but in this passage we see that a church met in their house. At this early time of Christianity there were no church buildings. So Christians met in homes. How gracious and hospitable, that this Christian couple was willing to make their home into a church. It seems they cared for others and wanted to help them.
Walls comments, "Romans 16:3 shows how widely this peripatetic and ever-hospitable Jewish couple were known and loved in the Gentile churches...."
Notice that Paul ends verse 3 by mentioning Epaenetus who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. You have to wonder if Aquila and Priscilla were responsible for leading Epaenetus to Christ in their home.
And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
Paul stayed here one and a half years. It was unusual for Paul to stay in one place for very long, but no doubt there was a great work to do in Corinth. From the two letters to the Corinthians, it seems Paul never stopped caring for the Corinthians, but always had their welfare in mind. Perhaps one of the reasons he could stay so long was the assistance of Aquila and Priscilla in getting him business. They had already been established in the area for a while before Paul arrived there. It is possible they had more work than they were able to handle, and this was an opportunity for Paul to put aside some extra expense money for his coming journeys.
After this Paul stayed many days longer, and then took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he cut his hair, for he had a vow.
And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there; but he himself went into the synagogue and argued with the Jews.
When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined;
When Pauls time in Corinth was completed, he decided to move on to Ephesus. And Priscilla and Aquila decided to join him. Its possible the tentmaking business required frequent moves to find new customers. Or perhaps they wanted to continue sharing in the ministry of Paul. Whatever their reason, it becomes apparent that they settled in Ephesus for a while before returning to Rome. They wanted Paul to continue with them, but he was ready to resume his missionary work.
Later on when Paul wrote the first letter to the Corinthians, he sends a greeting which tells us more about the work of Aquila and Priscilla.
1 Corinthians 16:19
The churches of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.
The people in Corinth would certainly remember Aquila and Priscilla. But notice that by this time in Ephesus, there was a church meeting in the house of this Christian couple. It seems wherever they went, they opened their house up for Gods work. Aquila and Priscilla are never mentioned in the Bible as elders or deacons. They were always laypersons with no church office. And yet they understood that all Christians are ministers. What are you waiting for before you start working for the Lord? Are you waiting until youre elected to an office? Are you waiting until you become a member? Aquila and Priscilla were none of these, but realized that God has called us all to minister.
When the Restoration Movement began in the early 1800s, they did something really different from the established churches of their day. All the churches were headed up by one or more lay elder-preachers. The ordained clergy of the church were traveling evangelists. The local churches were run by laypersons. They not only believed in lay ministry, but they practiced it. We must all be willing to do Gods work, whether its working on the job or working in the church.
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures.
He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately.
Apollos apparently was quite an eloquent speaker. But his doctrine was not complete. We are not sure what his deficiency was, but Priscilla and Aquila were able to take him under their wing and explain more fully to him the gospel message. This shows the couples willingness to help. As Jacobson commented, "Aquila and Priscilla felt no jealousy, they taught in private one who outshone them in public."
They were willing to help this preacher and he was willing to listen to them. How much stronger would our churches be if people in the church would be willing to share their wisdom and insight with the ministers and the ministers would be willing to listen. From Pauls letter to the Corinthians we know that after he left there Apollos had a great influence on the church and continued the work which Paul had begun.
Once again we see the impact Priscilla and Aquila had on the life of others. They were a blessing to a number of ministers to Paul, to Apollos, and perhaps to another minister as well as we see from the passage in 2 Timothy.
2 Timothy 4:19
Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
Paul was now in the Roman prison awaiting execution when he wrote his final letter, this time to the young minister Timothy. Paul had finished his course and was ready to face eternity. But in his final letter, we see he remembers his old friends Priscilla and Aquila. Isnt it interesting that this godly couple would be with the young minister Timothy. Perhaps Paul asked them to go there to help in this important work. We dont know, but we can be sure that as they had done throughout their life, they were there to assist the work of the church and to be a blessing to others.
Are we as willing as Priscilla and Aquila to help others, to be warm and caring, to instruct and encourage those in the ministry? Are we willing to sacrifice our time and our abilities for Christ? Let us be like these two godly people and we will also be called Christs faithful workers.
This study from Acts 18 © 1999 by David Humpal. All rights reserved.
All scriptures unless otherwise noted are from the Revised Standard Version © 1971, A. J. Holman Company
Blaiklock: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, vol. 5 (older edition), pg. 150 © 1959, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Marshall: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, vol. 5, pg. 298 © 1980, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Walls: The New Bible Dictionary pg. 51 © 1962, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Jacobson: The Speakers Commentary, vol. VIII, pg. 478 (reprint of 1871 edition), Baker Book House