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Four Families in the Apostolic Church (IV): Priscilla and Aquila
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Four Families in the Apostolic Church (IV): Priscilla and Aquila

Derren Liang—Irvine, California, USA


After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.

(Acts 18:1–2)

Here Paul met a couple, Aquila and Priscilla—a unique family, for their house was actually a church (cf. Rom 16:5). Aquila and Priscilla are an ideal Christian family and illustrate the greatest goal for a Christian family: to act as a church—a place where people feel warm and where everyone wants to be.

A Home Away from Home

Paul dedicated his life to bringing the gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. At Corinth, where he first met Aquila and Priscilla, there were many souls to be harvested for the Lord (cf. Acts 18:4, 8). However, he also faced considerable opposition (Acts 18:6) and probably experienced moments of discouragement or fear. Clearly, a critical factor that helped pull Paul through such moments, supplying him with resilience and courage to continue proclaiming God’s word through the one and a half years in Corinth, was the Lord’s reassurance, especially given through a vision (Acts 18:9–10). A second key factor was the fellowship he enjoyed at the home of this couple. Burdens shared are burdens lightened (Eccl 4:9). In Paul’s case, he could always be sure to find emotional and spiritual support from co-workers who knew him well and would always provide a sanctuary for him. And he was grateful to the Lord for enabling Aquila and Priscilla to be part of his life.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.

(Rom 16:3–4)

The movies occasionally glorify the emotionally strong, self-sufficient loner hero who triumphs over huge odds and innumerable foes stacked against him. But in our spiritual battles, there is no need for us to “go it alone.” Evidently, even an apostle like Paul, whom most would associate with great spiritual strength and stamina, needed comfort and support from brethren. From the long list of personal greetings that Paul sends in Romans 16, we can see that he was thankful not only for the Corinth-based couple who loved him so much they were prepared to risk their lives for him, but also for many who had made him part of their families, Rufus’ mother (Rom 16:13) and Gaius (Rom 16:23), for instance. We can feel his joy too at the “fellowship in the gospel” provided by the Philippians who constantly interceded for his evangelistic work (Phil 1:3–5).

Therefore, if God has blessed us with wonderful loving families, let us extend such love to our brethren who are laboring in the field by providing them with a home away from home. Beyond the material, intercessory support is also very important. Do not think that the strong and the actively-serving need no further affection or prayer. In fact, Satan may be even more determined to attack them and/or their families just to derail the progress of divine work. So let us learn from the Lord Jesus’ concern and prayer for Peter (Lk 22:3132), and constantly keep our ministers and workers in our prayers.

On the other hand, let us not limit the hospitality and care for our brethren to “high-profile” visitors. Look around you. Are there brothers and sisters who are sole believers, who may welcome our concern for and interest in their families? Are there students or members working away from home who may appreciate an invitation to dinner with our families? Are there visitors from abroad who may be touched when we, the local members, greet them warmly and spend time to chat with them?

Let us not be content with giving brethren a distant nod when we meet them. In the apostolic era, the church was in the homes of believers, e.g., Priscilla and Aquila or Nymphas (Col 4:15). Today, let us take the first step to recreate the home in the church by infusing it with familial warmth and sincere concern.

A Home within a Home

Besides providing familial warmth, the exemplary Christian home should also be the place where others can find spiritual help and guidance. In most modern societies, given the general rise in affluence, it is less common to find members who need material assistance. Instead, many more require spiritual guidance and help.

(a) Guidance

When Priscilla and Aquila met the eloquent Apollos and listened to him (Acts 18:24–26), they realized that he had an incomplete understanding of the truth. They could have just shaken their heads and said, “Such a pity! If this outstanding orator had the right concepts, he could have been a good worker for the Way…” and done nothing more. But this couple’s further actions demonstrate their emulation-worthy attributes. They were not just people with much love for others; they also knew the Scriptures so well that they recognized Apollos had been “taught accurately the things of the Lord.” What’s more, they were prepared to invest time and effort to study the word of God with Apollos so that he could learn and subsequently preach the complete gospel.

Their simple act of spiritual concern had great multiplier effects—it not only saved Apollos but many more in the future who benefited from Apollos’ eloquent evangelism (cf. Acts 18:26).

(b) Assistance

Today, when believers face spiritual problems or hardship in life, who can they turn to? Who can help to counsel and guide them back onto the correct path when they need comfort and help the most? Logically, fellow church members should be the natural source of comfort for one another. However, many members prefer to turn to external help when their spiritual lives hit a downturn—friends in the world or self-help books. Unfortunately, when they turn to external sources for help, they run the risk of receiving advice that may be counter to their faith.

Hence, every church must strive to cultivate families like Priscilla and Aquila who provide a secure “home within a home.” Like loving parents or siblings, they nurture and take care of the weak and needy in a discreet and trustworthy way. When more families willingly open up their hearts and homes to others and invite members who live nearby or who need spiritual support, this warmth will definitely spread throughout the church (cf. Acts 16:15).

Then Jesus said to them “Children, have you any food?”… Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it and bread… Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.”… Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

(Jn 21:5–13)

In their weakness, Peter and the other disciples returned to their original occupations after Jesus’ crucifixion. Appearing to them, the Lord’s words were not of stern rebuke but of gentle concern—an expression of love that would continue to long motivate His disciples.

Families who bring warmth and comfort to those in need can impact more lives than any sermon that is spoken on the pulpit. We need more families to open up their houses to be a church and home for others. Not only does this strengthen our church, it will be a beautiful example of love, which can inspire our children to do the same.


By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul has predicted that men’s love will grow cold. The challenge before families in the true church today is how to keep this coldness from pervading our own households as well as the household of God. Like the tent-making couple Aquila and Priscilla, let us make our home a place of trust, refuge, and warmth for everyone.

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Author: Derren Liang