Priscilla and Aquila were a first century Christian missionary couple described in the New Testament. They became the honored and much-loved friends and ministry partners with the Apostle Paul. He was generous in his recognition and acknowledgment of his indebtedness for them. They have been called the most famous couple in the Bible since they are mentioned seven times and are always named as a couple. Of those seven times, five times Priscilla's name is mentioned first. They were tentmakers by trade.
Priscilla was a woman of Jewish heritage and one of the earliest known Christian converts who lived in Rome. Her name is a Roman diminutive, or nickname, for Prisca. Some scholars have advanced a case for Priscilla being the author of the New Testament Book of Hebrews.^ ^^^ She was married to Aquila (Greek ?????? Akúlas), originally from Pontus, who also was a Jew who believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah promised by God to the Jews. Aquila had the family name of the commander of a legion and means "eagle."
Travels and ministries
Priscilla and Aquila fled Rome during the Jewish persecution under Claudius, 49 or 50, and settled in Corinth. There they hosted Paul, also a tentmaker by trade, on his first visit to the town (Acts 18:1 ff). They accompanied Paul to Ephesus (Acts 18:18-19) where they instructed the eloquent and brilliant Alexandrian preacher, Apollos. He knew and preached boldly to the crowds only the baptism of John and nothing of salvation through Christ. "When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately" (Acts 18:26).^ ^
The Apostle Paul lived with them there for three years during his third missionary journey. A Christian church met in their house (1 Corinthians 16:19). They left Ephesus and returned to Rome (Acts 19:24-40) where another church met in their house (Romans 16:3-5). Probably because of the persecution of Nero, they soon left Rome and settled again at Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:19).^^
The Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, recollects about his faithful disciples: "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles." (Romans 16:3-4, NASB).
In 2 Timothy 4:19 (NASB), Paul asks Timothy to "Greet Prisca and Aquila...."
The seven biblical references to Priscilla and Aquila
- Acts 18:2-3. There he (Paul) met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.
- Acts 18:18. Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.
- Acts 18:19. They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila.
- Acts 18:26. He (Apollos) began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
- Romans 16:3-4. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
- 1 Corinthians 16:19. The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.
- 2 Timothy 4:19. Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.
- ? von Harnack, Adolph, “Probabilia uber die Addresse und den Verfasser des Habraerbriefes,” Zeitschrift fur die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der aelteren Kirche (E. Preuschen, Berlin: Forschungen und Fortschritte, 1900), 1:16–41. English translation available in Lee Anna Starr, The Bible Status of Woman. Zarephath, N.J.: Pillar of Fire, 1955), 392–415
- ? Hoppin, Ruth. Priscilla's Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Lost Coast Press, 2000. ISBN 1882897501
- ? Herbert Lockyer. All the Women of the Bible. Zondervan, 1988. ISBN 978-0310281511
- ? Maas, Anthony. "Aquila and Priscilla." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 6 Nov. 2009