Priscilla: Teacher of the Way of God

Claudius, Emperor of Rome (A. D. 41-54) got tired of the disruptions to the city “instigated by Chrestus” among the Jewish population. His solution was to expel all Jews. Aquila and his wife Priscilla were among these refugees. They decided to go to Corinth where they would make and sell tents.

Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, left Athens destined for Corinth. In Corinth he fell back on the tentmaking trade to pay his own way.

It was inevitable that Priscilla and Aquila would meet Paul. If they didn’t meet at a synagogue where Paul was attempting to persuade both Jews and Greeks that Jesus was the promised Messiah, they would have met as tentmakers practicing their trade in the same section of the city. 

The Scripture doesn’t tell us directly, but Priscilla and Aquila may have already become believers in Jesus as the Messiah while in Rome. Luke doesn’t write that Paul introduced them to Jesus and their expertise with Apollos indicates a mature knowledge previously acquired. Certainly they would have been as expert in the Hebrew Scriptures as Apollos was.

When Paul left Corinth, Priscilla and Aquila accompanied him by boat (this would have been no pleasure cruise) as far as Ephesus. They stayed in Ephesus while Paul traveled on to Syria. Priscilla and Aquila acquired a house in Ephesus.

In early Christianity, Jewish Christians and believing Gentiles attended Synagogue on the Sabbath.While attending Synagogue in Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila met Apollos who was there teaching. Apollos knew the Hebrew Bible thoroughly. He believed Jesus was the Messiah, but his knowledge, though accurate, was not complete. For instance, the baptism of John did not include the receiving of the promised Holy Spirit.

Priscilla and Aquila were impressed with his courage, his passion, and his knowledge. They invited him into their home. Hospitality in this culture involved more than a four hour dinner and conversation. Apollos would have been invited to stay the night and for as long as it took to complete his instruction “in the way of God.” Their instruction prepared him to be “a great help to those who by grace had believed,” and to effectively prove “from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”

We know that Priscilla was actively involved in this instruction (notice the pronoun “they” in Acts 18) and that she was the more prominent of this husband and wife team. In four out of the six places their names are used, hers is placed first, the customary way to indicate prominence or social position in this culture.

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth from Ephesus and included a greeting from Aquila and Priscilla. They had continued to bring Christians into their home in Ephesus. Again, when Paul wrote to Timothy, Priscilla and Aquila were still serving the church in this city.

After the death of Claudius, during Nero’s reign, Priscilla and Aquila moved back to Rome. Here they again made their home available for an assembly of Christians. Paul called them his “fellow workers in Christ Jesus.” He commends them for risking their lives to save his. Paul’s greeting reveals that Priscilla and Aquila had been invaluable in assisting “all the churches of the Gentiles.”

Priscilla (Priska or Prisca) worked alongside her husband Aquila and alongside Paul, the Apostle to the nations of the world. She was a Jew who risked her life for the sake of the gospel. She knew the Scriptures-The Law, The Prophets, and the Writings--- and the testimony about Jesus so well that she could teach an educated man, Apollos, what he didn’t yet know. She and her husband opened their home to fellow Christians for assembly. She was so well known in her time that she is mentioned in historical sources besides the Bible. 

Priscilla wasn’t content to take her new life in Christ and bury it in the busyness of everyday life-making a living as a tentmaker and managing a home. She prepared herself to be able to explain what she believed and why. She had the courage to make use of  opportunities to make the message of the way of God available to others. 

References used:
Acts 18; I Corinthians 16:19; II Timothy 4:19; Romans 16:3
All the Women of the Bible by Edith Deen
Zondervon New International Bible Study Notes

Scarlett Stough

For the scripture reference list and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Priscilla, Teacher of the Way of God, Bible Instructions for Christian Teachers