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Paul’s Partners (6): Aquila and Priscilla (2)

David Williamson, Newtownabbey

In our previous paper we considered this godly couple and their unity in the service of God. We rehearsed a little of their history and their meeting with Paul. We will now view some of their spiritual characteristics.

Their Hospitality

If we were to write one word over this couple, it would be "hospitality"! This was shown towards the Lord’s people in a number of ways. They showed hospitality to Paul, to Apollos, and to the local church.

They helped Paul with a bed. He had hardly met them but he was staying with them! This was to be no weekend stay. The duration of his time in their home in Corinth was anything up to 2 years and it is very likely that he stayed with them in Ephesus also for a long period of time. As can be imagined, there were grave dangers associated with putting up this preacher!

They helped Apollos with the book. Using their home they expounded to Apollos "the way of God more perfectly" (Acts 18.26). Their hospitality was not only practical but supremely spiritual. The Scriptures were their interest and the subject of their conversation.

They helped local churches with a building. This is confirmed to us by two passages from Scripture. In Romans 16.5 Paul writes of them, "Greet the church that is in their house", and in 1 Corinthians 16.19 we read, "Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house". Therefore, in two separate cities (Rome and Ephesus), at different dates, but with unflagging zeal, they provided suitable accommodation for the local assemblies to meet.

Such dedication makes the writer feel very small! This was a couple sold out for the furtherance of the gospel! Thankfully we still hear of Christians opening their homes for gospel outreach and inviting neighbours and friends to attend. We also know of some who open their homes for Bible studies and encourage missionaries, evangelists, and teachers in their labours. Such have the same outlook as Aquila and Priscilla and are an example to us.

Their Accuracy

We have noted that, while the main thrust of the ministry of Aquila and Priscilla appears to be practical, yet they were not lazy in respect of Bible study. They were accurate students of the Scriptures. It was T E Wilson who, when asked for advice on the study of Scripture, stated that three things must be kept always in mind. What were they? "Accuracy, accuracy, and accuracy"!

In the concluding verses of Acts 18 there is recorded the story of Apollos. Aquila and Priscilla were alone in Ephesus – Paul had moved on. While they remained they attended the synagogue and listened to the Word of God. The Scripture was being expounded by a gifted teacher – a man who was eloquent, competent, and fervent. Yet this couple were able to discern that he was deficient in certain aspects of truth.

Apollos was not a false teacher, nor was he a careless student. He was teaching "diligently" or "accurately" (ESV), the word of God. There were just some things he did not yet know. What did this couple do? They "took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly" (Acts 18.26). Though he was accurate, they taught him "more accurately" (ESV)!

How did this busy couple gain their knowledge? One factor would undoubtedly be that in their practical service to Paul they had received abundant spiritual recompense. Many discussions would have been enjoyed over the Scriptures. They had not "entertained angels" (Heb 13.2), but they had provided hospitality to an apostle! But was this all? I doubt it very much. I think it would be fair to say that many of us listen to good teaching from excellent teachers of the Word but we must confess that there are few of us who are sufficiently versed in Scripture to enlarge the understanding of an Apollos. How were they so capable? I take it that the answer lies in their personal study of the Word.

To gain a true understanding of Scripture we must study it for ourselves. Study is hard work and this is why not all Christians are Bible students! Paul instructs Timothy to "Strive diligently to present thyself approved to God, a workman that has not to be ashamed, cutting in a straight line the word of truth" (2 Tim 2.15, JND). Study undoubtedly comes more easily to some than to others, but we all have responsibility to become acquainted with the teachings of Scripture.

Their Loyalty

In Romans 16.3-4 Paul tells the assembly, "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". He viewed this couple as "helpers". This is literally "fellow-labourers" or "co-workers". He had been a co-worker with them in secular employment as a tent-maker – they became co-workers with him in the spread of the gospel.

He then mentions a particular circumstance in which the extent of their loyalty to him became apparent. It seems that at some stage Paul was in danger of losing his life and, in order to protect him, Aquila and Priscilla "laid down their own necks". In other words they put themselves in grave danger to secure his protection. The occasion of this we do not know for there were many such instances of danger in the life of Paul (2 Cor 11.23-33). However, in 1 Corinthians 15.32 we are told that Paul "fought with beasts at Ephesus" and it is certainly possible that it was at this time that this loyal couple had opportunity to express fully their love for Paul and to place themselves in great danger for his deliverance.

This is the high-water mark for believers. John reminds us, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 Jn 3.16). The impact of their self-sacrifice on this occasion was felt not only by Paul personally, but by "all the churches of the Gentiles".

In summary, we have discovered that these two delightful believers were a tremendous help to the Apostle Paul, and to the work of God. They were united to each other and devoted to God and to His Word, and God was therefore pleased to direct their pathway in such a way as to make them busy and useful servants for His glory. May this be the ambition of us all!

To be continued.

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