Today I’m really liking Aquila and his wife Priscilla, sometimes known as Prisca. I guess that was a Jewish nickname of sorts, sort of like Abby for Abigail.
We first meet this steadfast and easy-going ministry couple in Acts 18:2 when Paul comes across them in Corinth. The scripture says Paul “found” them and “came to them,” almost as though he was looking for them. Perhaps he was. Perhaps he was looking for good friends with kindred hearts, common goals, and like minds. I know that I’ve been on the look out for just such people ever since James and I have been in ministry. We’ve looked for friends who are passionate about their relationship with God, love serving Him, and go the extra mile for Him. And, like Paul, we’ve found them too.
Aquila and Priscilla had left Italy because the Jews had been ordered to leave Rome by Claudius. Like Paul they were tent-makers and they were working their trade. In other words, they were working for a living. They weren’t freeloaders. We know Paul didn’t care much for freeloaders and thought highly of those who worked for their bread and board. Thus, Paul liked Aquila and Priscilla and, being a tent-maker himself, he joined up with them. They had a lot in common.
Later the couple would accompany Paul on the next leg of his missionary journey. They set out for Syria and ended up in Ephesus. When Paul moved on to bigger and better things, going from church to church and region to region, ever the man in demand, Aquila and Priscilla stayed in Ephesus, quietly doing the work God had given them.
About the most interesting thing we know about Aquila and Priscilla is that they discipled an eloquent Jew named Apollos who was already mighty in the Scriptures, but still a little clueless about some of God’s ways. My guess is he was preaching hell fire and brimstone in the same vein as John the Baptizer, but he wasn’t preaching with the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Acts 18:26 tells us Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and gently explained to him “the way of God more accurately.” Apollos was a good guy with good intentions, obviously anointed by God to preach the gospel; he just needed a little refining encouragement. This couple helped him out and sent him on his way with a letter of glowing recommendations.
In other scriptures we find out that Aquila and his wife risked their necks for Paul, hosted a church in their home, and supported Timothy in his burgeoning ministry. They were come-alongsiders, encouragers, give-a-guy-a-hand-ers, supporters, and real troopers. They were rarely on center-stage, but they were definitely a part of the cast.
So why am I liking Priscilla and Aquila today? Because the Bible just describes them as co-workers, tent-makers, and fellow travelers. They’re not great evangelists, official apostles, two of the chosen twelve or authors of any of the books of the New Testament. They’re just a sweet and faithful couple who did their part to further the gospel, and as far as we know they did it with love and integrity and humility.
I’m not a great evangelist like Paul, an author on the level of James, a church leader the likes of Peter, a visionary like John, or a martyr like Stephen. People aren’t begging me to come to their church like they did with Paul and they aren’t mistaking me for gods like they did Paul and Barnabas (thank goodness!). I’m not the next up-and-coming minister like Timothy and I don’t have the money or the influence of Lydia. But I can be a Priscilla married to an Aquila. I can work hard. I can work behind the scenes. I can take an occasional special assignment like the discipling of Apollos, pour myself into it, and bow out graciously when it’s time. I can support the Pauls of this era and pray for them and speak well of them. And I can do my part in my little corner of the world and know I’ve made a difference.
I wonder if Priscilla and Aquila ever longed for more acclaim, ever tired of being the “helpers.” I imagine they occasionally did. But we see no evidence of a sour attitude or resentment or jealousy. We just see two folks who Paul “found” and kept around and mentioned in letter after letter because he loved and valued them. They may not have blazed a trail of greatness, but they blazed one that most of us can follow. One of faithful service and humble obedience. So today Aquila and Priscilla, two co-workers, tent-makers and fellow travelers are my heroes. I want to be just like them.