Names don’t always reflect the character and personality of a person. Take my name as an example … Donald. Donald is a masculine given name derived from the Gaelic name Dòmhnall. This comes from the Proto-Celtic *Dumno-ualos (“world-ruler” or “world-wielder”), composed of the old Celtic elements dumno “world” and val “rule”. This was the name of two 9th-century kings of the Scots and Picts. It has traditionally been very popular in Scotland, and during the 20th century it became common in the rest of the English-speaking world. Its meaning is “world ruler” or “world wielder”. My surname, Kirkwood, is also of Scottish origin which means “the wood near the church.” The closest I come to both names and their meaning is the fact that my dad’s father was from Scotland.
Another name is Prisca which means “old woman”. Some Bibles use the translation Prisca or the diminutive Priscilla in translation. Priscilla is also endearing in meaning. We come into contact with her name in Acts 18 when Paul was in Corinth. As Luke uses the diminutive Priscilla, as a brother in Christ he certainly means it in an endearing way. She was certainly not an old lady as we shall see.
Ac 18:1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he 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, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.
Her husband Aquila came from a Roman Province in Turkey. They are always mentioned together because they ran a business together making tents and because they were Christians. Together with many Jews they were removed from Rome by a decree from Claudius. (Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was the fourth Roman emperor, ruling from AD 41 to 54.) They landed up in Corinth during Paul’s visit. They were tent makers, as was Paul. In joining forces it was not only good for business but for the Gospel as well.
It’s hard to find out why, but some commentators suggest she came from a higher social status than her husband. The only reason I can find is that she is mention before her husband on each occasion they are referred to, except once.
1) Priscilla, together with Aquila, were hospitable. As mentioned many times, this is a Christian spiritual gift. Think of it like this … Hospitality is an offer to identify with outsiders and to treat them like insiders. There are two major reasons for hospitality.
(a) To get to know brothers and sisters in Jesus better. Just mixing at Church or Bible Studies seems to be a hit and run relationship. Remember we can’t chose our blood family … nor can we chose our spiritual family. That is God’s prerogative. He saves and makes us part of His family and His desire is that we get to know Him and each other better because in eternity we will be together forever. Just seeing each other and a few casual words here and there is not getting to know. We need to be with each other, sharing meals, going on picnics, doing fun things and above all … enjoying Jesus together. This requires time and effort … but the rewards are enormous because God is glorified and you His people are encouraged as you express love for each other.
(b) Hospitality may be used to draw people on the fringes into the faith. There are people in the church who are not believers yet. There are friends and colleagues who might not even have considered Jesus yet. Inviting them for meals or coffee could well be the opportunity to build a bridge which eventually will enable you to share the Gospel with them. Often people want to know about Christianity and are too afraid to ask. This is where we come in. Again, this takes time, effort and energy … but it is all part of our part in advances the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus.
2) Priscilla was a fellow Gospel Worker. In Romans 16 we find Paul greeting people from across most of the world where the Gospel had found root. In fact, if you read the chapter you will find the names mentioned represent people from Africa, Europe, Western Asia and the Middle East. Many of them had intermarried. Look at Romans 16:3, which reads:
Ro 16:3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.
What is interesting here is that Paul does not just say “fellow workers”. He says “fellow workers in Christ Jesus”. There might be a hint of working together as tent makers … but more … they were Gospel Workers together with him. It is exciting when colleagues or friends can work for Jesus in His Vineyard together sowing Gospel seeds. Priscilla with her husband were just that to Paul. They fellow workers in Christ Jesus … could you say you are one?
3) Pricilla, together with Aquila, had the gift of teaching. To teach people does not require some diploma or degree. When you are explaining Gospel doctrines, theology and Biblical morality and ethics, together with methods of interpretation and showing how the Old Testament and New Testament link together … that’s teaching. We will deal with the man named Apollo soon, but for now …
Ac 18:26 He 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.
They heard Apollo’s preaching. It was Biblical and accurate but there were elements missing, so they invited him to their home to … explain to him the way of God more adequately. He was a good man, a strong preacher, a committed Christian … yet he lacked understanding certain finer Gospel matters. They saw it their duty to help him. We call this discipleship. Although I mention this often, we cannot get away from Jesus’s Command:
Mat 28:20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
They did this and we need to do this as well. Some serious Christians need help in understanding Christian doctrine and theology.
Father, Priscilla set us such an example of Hospitality, Gospel Work and Teaching. Help us to follow her. Amen.