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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 and Aquila are regarded as saints by several Christian churches, including the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, which commemorates them on February 13, with Apollos.

Contents

The seven biblical references to Priscilla and Aquila

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Acts 18:19: They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 2 Timothy 4:19: Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.

The couple

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.[1][2]

Aquila (Greek Ἀκύλας Akúlas), husband of Priscilla, was originally from Pontus. He, too, 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." According to church tradition, Aquila did not long dwell in Rome: the Apostle Paul made him a bishop in Asia. The Apostolic Constitutions identify Aquila, along with Nicetas, as the first bishops of Asia (7.46). Tradition also reports that Aquila ended his life a martyr, along with Priscilla.

According to Acts 18:2-3, Aquila and Priscilla were tentmakers, as Paul of Tarsus is said to have been. Priscilla and Aquila had been among the Jews expelled from Rome by the Roman Emperor Claudius in the year 49 as written by Suetonius. Priscilla and Aquila ended up in Corinth (Greece). Paul lived with Priscilla and Aquila for approximately 18 months. Then the couple started out to accompany Paul when he next went to Syria, but stopped at Ephesus (in modern Turkey).

In Acts 18:24-28, an important evangelist in Ephesus named Apollos is mentioned as one who "taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately." Priscilla and Aquila were among the earliest known teachers of Christian theology.

In 1 Corinthians 16:19, Paul passes on the greetings of Priscilla and Aquila to their friends in Corinth, indicating that the couple were in his company. Paul founded the church in Corinth; including their greetings implies that Priscilla and Aquila were also involved in the founding of that church. Since 1 Corinthians discusses a crisis deriving from a conflict between the followers of Apollos and the followers of Cephas (possibly the apostle Peter), it can be inferred that Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria, accompanied Priscilla and Aquila when they returned to Corinth. This happened before 54, when Claudius died and the expulsion was lifted.

In Romans 16:3-4, thought to have been written in 56 or 57, Paul sends his greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and notes that both of them "risked their necks" to save Paul's life.

Chronology

One item of importance about the appearance is that they provide a chronological synchronism for the chronology of Paul's life. According to Acts 18:2f, before Paul meets them in Corinth, they were part of a group of Jews whom the Emperor Claudius ordered expelled from Rome; if this edict of the Emperor can be dated, then we would be able to infer when Paul arrived in Corinth.

The evidence of other ancient sources points to two possible periods during the reign of Claudius: either during his first regnal year (AD 41; so Dio Cassius, Roman History 60.6.6), or during his ninth regnal year (49; so Orosius, Historia 7.6.15f).[3] As a result the experts are divided over when this expulsion took place: some, like Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, argue for the earlier year,[4] while others, like Joseph Fitzmyer, argue for the later year.[5]

External links

Endnotes

  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ Hoppin, Ruth. Priscilla's Letter: Finding the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Lost Coast Press, 2000. ISBN 1882897501
  3. ^ Suetonius mentions this expulsion of the Jews from Rome (Claudius 25.4), although he does not provide a definite date for this act; Tacitus mentions no such expulsion in his Annals although it is complete for the year AD 49.
  4. ^ Paul: A critical life (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), pp. 8-15
  5. ^ The Acts of the Apostles (New York: Doubleday, 1998), pp. 619f
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