Priscilla, Wife of Aquila

Priscilla and Aquila were Jewish tentmakers (Acts 18:2–3), and their business may have brought them into contact with Paul. While Acts does not reveal much about the life of Priscilla before she met and married Aquila, the text does make several mentions of her, always with her husband. Aquila.

Aquila was born in Pontus, but had recently come from Italy with Priscilla. They met Paul in Corinth after he had departed from Athens and they had fled rome. The roman Emperor Claudius had commanded all Jews to leave that city (Acts 18:2). The three shared a common interest in tent making, as well as a love of Christ. They became dear friends, and Paul lived with them for a time.

I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. (Romans 16:1–2)

While in Corinth, Paul spoke in the synagogue, reasoning with those who would listen to his Christian message, and converting many Jews and Gentiles. Priscilla and Aquila, who had been Christians longer than Paul, helped Paul found the Corinthian church and strengthen others there in the faith.

Benefiting from Paul's Passion

When Paul left for Ephesus on the next leg of his journey, Priscilla and Aquila went with him. In Ephesus, Paul left Priscilla and Aquila to go preach in the synagogue. The name of the Lord was greatly magnified as a result of the preaching and healing done (Acts 19:17). Priscilla would have gained the skills to be a missionary from the Paul. She and Aquila are credited with being strong leaders of the Corinthian and Ephesian Christian communities.

Meeting Apollos

Apollos, a man from Alexandria with the gift of eloquent oratory, began evangelizing in Ephesus. Apollos was a Jew who had limited knowledge of the Christian Way; he knew only the baptism of John (Acts 18:24'28). Priscilla and Aquila became friends with Apollos, and gave him a fuller understanding of the Christian Gospel. This enabled him to articulate the ideas of the faith more effectively than ever. Some sources assert that this means that Priscilla, helped by Aquila, was the earliest-known theological teacher after Paul and Jesus.

Sending Greetings to Fellow Christians

Priscilla and Aquila sent their Corinthian Christian friends greetings in a letter that Paul dispatched (1 Corinthians 16:19). The combined greeting suggests that the three friends were still together when the letter was written. Acts 19:21 reveals “After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying…I must also see Rome.” In A.D. 54, Emperor Claudius died and Jews returned to Rome.

Where is Ephesus?

The ruins of the city of Ephesus, with its Temple of Artemis (the Greek goddess of fertility), is located near the coast of the Aegean Sea in modern Turkey, about 50 kilometers south of Izmir (ancient Smyrna). Running through Ephesus was the Sacred Way, a wide paved road used by pedestrians and charioteers during ancient times.

Going Home to Rome

Approximately two years later, Paul salutes Priscilla and Aquila in a letter in Romans 16:3, indicating they had returned to Rome. As was their custom, they opened their home as a house church. Their stay was short-lived, according to some sources, because of Nero's persecution of Christians. They again fled Rome, and this time settled in Ephesus.

Building Upon the House Church of Saint Prisca

There is an old church dedicated to Saint Prisca in Rome, though it is not clear if that saint is the same Priscilla discussed here. Builders constructed the old church on the site of Priscilla's house church. Roman martyrology reveals that Priscilla and Aquila suffered martyrdom in Rome; however, another tradition holds that they were martyred in Asia Minor. The roman Catholic Church commemorates Priscilla and Aquila on July 8, their feast day.

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