We Need More Aquilas & Priscillas

by Greg Mathias | Oct 31, 2022

Symmetry appeals to me. I often stop and take notice when I see it in nature. Having things line up and correspond breathes life into my world. However, life would be boring if everything was symmetrical. It is often when things don’t line up, or we experience an unexpected twist or turn in life, that adds color and vibrancy to the world around us.

I think we try to find too much symmetry in the worlds of ministry and business. We want everything to line up, and for ministers and businessmen to accomplish the same things. They are two different worlds that can work together, but not always in the way we think. 

I want to highlight a couple who was used of God through their business–Aquila and Priscilla. You know, that dynamic couple that was booted out of Rome (Acts 18:2). They landed in Corinth and then provided a place for Paul to stay and work after his travels from Athens. Aquila and Priscilla quickly move from acquaintances to invaluable friends and co-laborers in the ministry with Paul.

Why did Aquila and Priscilla move from the status of acquaintance to lifelong friend of Paul? I think there are at least four reasons:

Consummate Encouragers

They are consummate encouragers. By the time Paul lands in Corinth, he has experienced a difficult and trying season of ministry in Thessalonica and Berea. Paul couldn’t escape his rowdy Jewish fanclub who kept stirring up riots against him, so he stayed in Athens for a bit while he waited for his traveling companions Timothy and Barnabas. After some mixed ministry results in Athens, he ends up in Corinth. Upon arrival, Paul finds a couple who opens up their home to him. Not only did Aquila and Priscilla open up their home to Paul, but also they provided for his needs, through work. Paul worked as a tentmaker out of need; and, it was through this provision that God provided financial and relational encouragement. 

Hard Workers

They are hard workers. Aquila and Priscilla are able to give Paul a place to rest and work while providing relational capital for him. They were bridges into the community for Paul. It is through their reputation in the Corinthian community, among their business associates and neighbors, that Paul begins ministering the Gospel. Aquila and Priscilla provide a Gospel-centric network for Paul.

Faithful

They are faithful at their jobs and in their church. At the end of Corinthians, Paul specifically mentions Aquila, Priscilla, and their church (1 Cor 16:19). Their church is enthusiastically praying for and sending greetings back to the Corinthian church. The people in Corinth already knew Aquila and Priscilla as faithful workers and as a fellow brother and sister-in-Christ, so this greeting adds a personal touch to this letter from Paul. Paul’s ministry is enhanced due to the reputation of Aquila and Priscilla.

Trusted Companions

They are trusted companions and co-laborers. Paul calls them fellow workers (Rom 16:2). We know that Aquila and Priscilla didn’t go everywhere with Paul, nor did they minister in the exact same way as he did, but they faithfully proclaimed the Gospel wherever they were–Rome, Corinth, or Ephesus. They were believers who lived out the Gospel in word and deed to the point that they risked their very lives for Paul. Aquila and Priscilla gave Paul ample reason to give thanks to the Lord (Rom 16:4)! 

If you are in ministry, pray for an Aquila and Priscilla to receive and encourage you. Ministry is difficult, and often lonely. Seek out brothers and sisters whom you can be more than acquaintances of, but those that might become lifelong friends, co-laborers in the work, and your reason for giving thanks to the Lord.

Maybe you sense that you are an aspiring Aquila and Priscilla. Here are some questions for consideration as you seek to imitate them:

  • Who are you encouraging in the ministry?
  • How are you helping bridge Gospel-centric relationships into your community?
  • Are you known as faithful in both your job and your church?
  • In what ways are you faithfully proclaiming the Gospel where you live and work?

Ministers and businessmen are not the same, but they need each other. Similar to Paul and Aquila and Priscilla, they need the humility and ability to listen to one another, learn from one another, and then, as opportunity presents itself, to work together. The symmetry between ministry and business is rarely a perfect match, but when these two spheres work together, the kingdom picture is compelling. 

We need more Aquilas and Priscillas. We need faithful believers who proclaim the Gospel wherever they are, and who are not afraid to be a breath of encouragement to ministers.

Will you consider being an Aquila and Priscilla?

 

Greg Mathias

Greg Mathias, PhD, is associate professor of global missions and the director of the Global Missions Center at NOBTS. His research focuses on missions and ethics. Previously, Greg and his family served with the IMB.