Commentary by Walter Albritton


February 23


Priscilla and Aquila: Paul’s beloved Helpers in the Ministry of Christ


Acts 18:1-4, 18-26; Romans 16:3-5a; I Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19


Key Verse: Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. – Romans 16:3, 4


            Though the church at Corinth had many problems, Paul never forgot that it was in Corinth that he met Priscilla and Aquila. There was instant rapport for the two of them were disciples of Christ and tentmakers, like Paul. What fun they must have had getting acquainted. Clearly a lifelong friendship was born the day they met.

            If the writer of the Gospel of Mark were telling this story, he would have said, “Immediately Priscilla and Aquila became Paul’s faithful helpers in the work of Christ.”    

How quickly it happened we do not know. We do know that the couple fell in love with Paul and devoted the rest of their lives to his ministry.

            They opened their hearts and their home to Paul. There Paul found refuge, rest, encouragement, and companionship. There, with Priscilla and Aquila, he planned his strategy for future missionary work.

            Like the disciples who answered the call to follow Jesus, Priscilla and Aquila left their business and began a new life. They accompanied Paul as he journeyed to Ephesus. There they assist Paul in teaching and building up the church. When Paul embarks on another missionary journey, he leaves Priscilla and Aquila in charge of the ministry in Ephesus.

            While ministering in Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila encounter a scholar and orator named Apollos. Hearing Apollos preach, the couple realized that his knowledge of the faith was incomplete. Rather than rebuking him openly, Priscilla and Aquila wisely invite him into their home where they gently instruct him “in the way of the Lord.”

            Their wise counsel and correction enabled a gifted teacher to become even more effective in proclaiming the truth of the gospel. They avoided conflict and condemnation. Instead they respected Apollos, realized his potential, and used loving persuasion to help him understand the faith more fully.

Later the couple opened their home as a worship center for believers. How important it should be for us today to open our homes for the worship of Christ, the nurture of fellow Christians, and intentional outreach to the unsaved.

            There are many nonbelievers who will accept an invitation to fellowship in our homes quicker than they will accept an invitation to come to a church building. In a family room we can tell people about the family of God and what it means to us. The church, after all, began in homes, not in large buildings with stained-glass windows.

            Priscilla and Aquila must have had a great marriage. Some scholars like to point out that because Priscilla’s name is usually listed first, that she, a woman, was the dominant teacher and leader. Perhaps we should not read too much into this.

            What matters is that they worked together. They made a difference as a couple. Together risked their very lives to help Paul carry out the mission God had given him. We are touched by the tender tribute Paul paid them, calling them “My fellow workers in Christ Jesus. . . (who) risked their lives for” the gospel (Romans 16:3 NIV).

            My eyes quickly fill with tears when I recall the names and faces of so many dear Christian friends who were to me, in my ministry, devoted “helpers in Christ Jesus.” What a magnificent difference they made in my life as a pastor!

Space is not available to name them all. But as Paul saluted Aquila and Priscilla for their ministry, I salute those dear saints, both living and dead, who stood by my side so faithfully in the work of Christ Jesus! To borrow words Paul used in expressing his love for the saints at Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” + + +