Connected for Life
By Bruce Clarke
The New Testament gives us a few tantalizing details of a married couple named Priscilla and Aquila. They were living in Rome working with leather, making tents (Acts 18:1-4). Then Caesar Claudius decided that the Jews were undesirable and forced them to flee Rome. They arrive at Corinth where they had to re-establish their lives in a foreign place. Now we don’t know whether they are Christians at this point in time but along comes the apostle Paul.
Perhaps Priscilla and Aquila were selling their goods in a marketplace and Paul strikes up a conversation about their shared occupation since Paul was also a tent-maker.
Knowing a little about Paul, we can confidently imagine the conversation quickly moved to the person and work of Jesus. They rapidly establish a connection which is so strong that they ask Paul to work with them and also to stay in their house. No doubt as Paul went to the Synagogue sharing the Lord Jesus Christ, Priscilla and Aquila accompanied him, listening intently.
While they were working together and when they were in their house there must have been many conversations about the Gospel and its implications. They would have discussed questions, talked about true discipleship, the call of God and they also had the opportunity to closely observe Paul’s actions.
At some point they embrace Paul’s vision sensing the call of God. When the opposition to Paul arose from the local Jewish community, Priscilla and Aquila stand by Paul showing their commitment to Christ knowing it would have a commercial impact on their business.
Paul made such a deep impression on Priscilla and Aquila in the 18 months he was in Corinth that when Paul suggested they go to Ephesus they agree (Acts 18:18). Paul had confidence in them to suggest this upheaval and also saw them as key people to further the work in Ephesus.
Paul continues his journey leaving them in Ephesus. Then, Apollos arrives showing great passion and skill but his knowledge of the Gospel was incomplete (Acts 18:24-26). Rather than publicly debate him, they quietly take Apollos aside and with skill and patience help him fully embrace Christ. Apollos goes on to make a significant kingdom impact because of their faithful service.
Later we find that Priscilla and Aquila are hosting a gathering of believers (1 Cor 16:19). Then, for reasons unknown, they move back to Rome and again host a church (Rom 16:3-5). Importantly Paul calls them his co-workers and gratefully recalls when they risked their lives for him. This proved to be of great significance to the spread of the Gospel into the Gentiles.
The last we hear of Priscilla and Aquila in the New Testament is when Paul is writing his final letter to Timothy when his execution is imminent some 16 years after their initial meeting (2 Tim 4:19). Paul simply asks to send his greeting to Priscilla and Aquila who are now back in Ephesus. We can imagine Paul’s tender affection as he reflected on their shared history with these faithful servants.
Their connection was deep and lasting. Priscilla and Aquila were ordinary people deeply impacted by the intensive time spent with Paul who cared, taught and challenged them. They caught the vision, knew enough to minister, mobilised themselves and made costly kingdom decisions. As Navigators our central ministry purpose is to make and sustain generational labourers. To see labourers labouring for a lifetime we must look beyond the current ministry context because vision and convictions can take time.
The busyness of life, the pursuit of personal goals, and life changing decisions can mean that making disciples fades into the background. We cannot assume that as people move through different life stages that their next destination will encourage their labouring.
Our continued connection to them can be important to them in the maintaining the vision and practice of discipling among the lost. But equally important is their connection to a community with the same heart and vision.
These community connections help expand and sustain the vision and practice of discipling (Heb 10:24,25). Our connections will sometimes be lifelong but will always be about sustaining labouring through life. We long to raise up co-workers, like Priscilla and Aquila, who are engaged long-term in the great calling of Christ (Matt 9:36-38).