“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
I’m going to look at Priscilla today. But I’m not going to just look at Priscilla. Because when I look at Priscilla, I have to also take in Aquila, her husband. We first learn about Aquila in Acts 18 when Paul meets him with Priscilla. Here are the words used, “After these things Paul departed from Athens and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila…” Here’s the thing that stopped me. It’s just a word. It’s just a little word. Paul found Aquila. Was he looking for him? Did he just happen upon him and say, “Wow, look what I found!” ?
I guess I’m thinking about this word found because of people that You have placed in my life. And I know that I never could have found them in my own efforts. And I know that my life is not and will never be the same again because You allowed me to “find” them. So I looked into this word “found” from the Greek “heurisko.” The fact is that it doesn’t mean find in the sense that we think about it. It’s not about my effort and ability at all. Skip Moen shares, “heurisko generally means ‘to find without seeking, to come upon as though by accident, to meet with.'” We find it in Matthew 11:29 where Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.”
On the other hand, heurisko can mean to find because you are diligently searching. We see that in this verse, “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) So what are we seeing here? I think it’s a combination. I think when we are diligently searching for God’s will with hearts that lean toward Him, that He draws us together in ways that would never be possible on our own. And I think that’s what happened here. God drew Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla together because He knew their hearts and He knew they needed each other. It was like they were His puzzle pieces and He was fitting them together for the beauty and glory of the picture He was in the process of painting. And He’s still painting today and still fitting us together.
So here is this God story being pieced together, person by person, believer by believer. As Jesus is allowed to change people, He links them together for the work He has purposed them to do. And speaking of work, Paul and Aquila and Priscilla had something more in common besides their heart for the truth. They were tent makers. So they got really personal and lived together and worked together. And I’m assuming, that as Paul reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, that Aquila and Priscilla were amongst those that had been persuaded of Jesus Christ.
Imagine that. Imagine being so intimately personal with someone that You would stay in their house, eat with them, work with them, and go to synagogue with them. You would have time to talk about these things at home and at work. You could search things out in Scripture. And at the same time, You could see this person’s life. You could see if rivers of living water were flowing from him. You could see something different about him. And you could see Jesus more clearly because He was so close. And all along you weren’t specifically looking for it to happen this way. But you were looking, looking really hard to find God, and then He shows himself through this man He places in your life and entwines your lives with his.
So Paul was in the area for a while because God had many who would believe in that area. And when Paul readied to leave and go into Syria, Priscilla and Aquila went with him. Now notice I placed Priscilla’s name first. That’s because Scripture does here also. In the six times that Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned by name, three times Aquila is listed first and three time Priscilla is listed first. I wonder if that is because one was as valued a treasure as the other in Paul’s eyes and in Your eyes, Lord? I mean, tradition is to list the man’s name first, isn’t it? So why not here?
Aquila and Priscilla are left in Ephesus to continue the work while Paul goes on. While in Ephesus, this couple meets Apollos, a believer who wasn’t aware of the whole truth of Christ. He was fervent in spirit and gifted as a teacher. After Aquila and Priscilla hear him speak, they hear his heart and invite him into their life so that he can hear the way of God more completely. So, just as Paul equipped them, they equipped him. Just as they offered their full hospitality, their whole lives to Paul and his benefit, so they offered theirs to Apollos. And God used Apollos mightily.
When writing to the church in Rome, Paul says, “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. Likewise greet the church that is in their house.” Wow! Let’s not whitewash hospitality, because this is what it really looks like in God’s eyes. This is Christian living. This is Christian loving. Would I lay down my own neck for others like this? Would others be drawn to Christ through me? Is this what my house is like? Is this what my life is like? How much of myself am I willing to invest in others? How personal am I willing to get?
In the letter to the Corinthians Paul writes, “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” It doesn’t stop. It just keeps on going. And the love doesn’t stop in their own house or their own church. It reaches out to others. And they never stop loving the ones they loved already. No one stops being a part of their life or their prayers. Their family just keeps growing.
And when Paul writes to Timothy, he can’t help but think about them again as he says, “Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.” Can you imagine that. I imagine that Priscilla and Aquila were such transparent friends and brothers and sisters in Christ to Paul, that sometimes he probably just got this image of something they had said or done that just endeared them to him. Sometimes, it was thinking about Priscilla and how she had shown her love in some special way. And her name popped out first. And sometimes he couldn’t help but think of Aquila and smile. And his name popped out first.
I haven’t really said much about Priscilla and that’s ok. Paul’s testimony of her says enough. It wasn’t just about Priscilla. Priscilla loved God. She loved others. She demonstrated that fully with her life and possessions and time. Aquila loved God. He loved others. He demonstrated that fully with his life and possessions and time. Aquila and Priscilla were husband and wife. They were husband and wife in the sense that God created them to be. They were being the co-heirs that God created them to be. They were walking in love, one to another. I think they understood that it wasn’t about heirarchy, but about mutual submission, and that they needed each other because one’s strengths would compliment the other’s weaknesses and vice versa. I think they each knew what it was to esteem others as more valuable than yourself and I think they applied it within their family as well as outside of it.
I greatly admire Priscilla, not because of strength, but because of her love and having eyes open to see God’s hand in people’s lives. I greatly admire Aquila, not because of strength, but because of his love and having eyes open to see God’s hand in people’s lives. I admire Priscilla and Aquila because they got what it was to work together as a God team. And look at the effects! I think Priscilla knew how to be an effective left wing of the plane and Aquila knew how to be an effective right wing. I think they knew how to work the left hand and right hand together on the same body. And I think each wing valued and appreciated the other. I think each hand knew the gift the other hand was. I think this is what ezer kenegdo, the help meet for Adam, for that person who it isn’t good to be alone for, looks like in action from both angles. I think this is what being co-heirs in Christ looks like. And it effects everyone it touches, men and whole churches of people. And it empowers other believers because they see and hear Christ in the picture and in the life.
Maybe I interject too much of what I think but I think that we need to really think about these things. I think we really need to take time, lots of time, to think about Your expectations and Your desires, Lord, and what delights You in a person. I think we need to take time to find out what You really mean and not just what we think You mean or what our church culture or culture or traditions have taught us You mean. I think we need to take time to stop and think about what was commendable or not commendable before You and others in the lives of these real people, people who succeeded sometimes and stumbled at other times and sometimes fell. These are God stories written for our benefit, not for us to feel good, but for us to understand what it looks like to draw close to You and how to do it. It’s not guidelines or examples of living either. It’s an invitation. It’s an all out invitation to live like them in You only I get to be the me in You that You created me to be. It’s a time to think and to act upon those thoughts.
Lord, I am so grateful for Your invitation to know You and join with You and to be joined with You and in You. I am also so grateful for the example of a husband and wife team in You that You have shared. That’s my prayer, Lord, that You would do that in our life. That as husbands and wives, we would value each other so much that we would want to and delight in working together as a God team. I pray that we would each know when to yield to the other, since each brings in their own special and unique giftings, knowledge, and perspective. I pray that we would esteem each other above our selves. I pray that we would love each other and that love would flow out to those around us. I pray we would be each others best friend and we would rejoice in Your presence and Your work together. I pray that we would be so filled with Your love that it would just overflow to others.
So, yes, I like this story. I like this God story a lot. I like that we are invited to experience You and this kind of relationship for ourselves. I like that You want us to think on these things and think about You and think about others who are thinking about You. I can’t help thinking about it and I can’t help talking about it. All I can say is, “Wow! Look what I found!”