Who were Priscilla and Aquila?

Priscilla and Aquila are identified by the apostle Paul as "fellow workers in Christ Jesus" (Romans 16:3). This couple was instrumental in the foundation of the first century church in the Mediterranean areas of modern-day Greece and Turkey.

Readers are first introduced to Priscilla and Aquila in Acts chapter 18 where we learn they were Jews living in Corinth after fleeing persecution of the Jews in their previous hometown of Rome, Italy (Acts 18:2). Despite being outsiders, they had established themselves there as tentmakers (Acts 18:3). Priscilla and Aquila opened their home and business to Paul when he arrived in Corinth. Perhaps having recently been outsiders themselves, they understood Paul's need for welcome, friendship, employment, and a safe place to stay. Paul ended up staying with Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth for one and a half years (Acts 18:11). When he left Corinth to establish a church in Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila accompanied him to help in this work (Acts 18:18). They settled in Ephesus and hosted the church inside their home (1 Corinthians 16:19), remaining there throughout the rest of Paul's ministry (2 Timothy 4:19).

Because of the couple's extended time with Paul and his continuous teaching and preaching, they had a profound understanding of the gospel and specific tenets of the faith. Thus, when Apollos started preaching an incomplete message in Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila "took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately" (Acts 18:26). The instruction that Priscilla and Aquila provided had far reaching effects because Apollos then traveled to Achaia where he "powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus" (Acts 18:28).

Priscilla and Aquila were instrumental by partnering with Paul to found the churches in Corinth and Ephesus, then by providing correction to ensure accurate teaching that carried into other areas, and finally by providing encouragement and support to Timothy as he led the Ephesian church that met inside their home (1 Corinthians 16:19).

One other point of note is that Priscilla, the wife's name, is listed before Aquila, the husband's name, almost every time in Scripture, which was not a common practice during that day (Acts 18:2, 18, 26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19). By placing Priscilla's name first, Luke, the author of Acts, and Paul in his letter to the Roman church and in his second letter to Timothy, may have been emphasizing the importance of the role Priscilla played in these situations. It was not only men who helped found the first century church and ensure accurate teaching. Women also helped in this endeavor and are recognized as "fellow workers" (Romans 16:3). Priscilla and Aquila both were used by God to advance the gospel as they worked alongside the apostle Paul.

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