Aquila and his wife Priscilla (or Prisca) were a remarkable Jewish couple, whose labours for Christ left their mark, not only on the lives of many, but on the New Testament record. They were tent makers living in Rome when they came to faith in Christ Jesus. They were among the first Christian believers in that city. In about ad 49 it is likely that their testimony to Christ contributed to the troubles that arose among the Jews in Rome concerning the message of Christ. The emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome “for constant rioting at the instigation of Chrestus [that is, Christ]” (Suetonius). Priscilla and Aquila were among those expelled (Acts 18:2).
In the years that followed they travelled and together became widely known and loved for their gospel work (Rom. 16:4). From Rome they went first to Corinth (Acts 18:2). There Paul met them and they provided him with accommodation, and a place for him to engage in his trade of tent making – a trade in which they shared (Acts 18:3).
After more than a year and a half, when Paul left Corinth to return to Antioch, Priscilla and Aquila travelled with him as far as Ephesus (Acts 18:18, 19). There they settled for some time and believers would meet in their house in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:19, written from Ephesus). When the eloquent Apollos came to Ephesus teaching about Jesus, Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and “explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:27). They had evidently learnt well from Paul, and Apollos’s ministry was powerful as a consequence (Acts 18:28).
Priscilla and Aquila returned to Rome, presumably after Claudius’s death in ad 54. It has been suggested that they may have been sent as Paul’s ‘vanguard’ to prepare support for his visit before he set off for Spain. It is noteworthy that in his magisterial letter to the Romans, in advance of his visit, the first persons to whom Paul sent greetings are Priscilla and Aquila (Rom. 16:3). In Rome they again hosted a church in their home (Rom. 16:5).
Later again they returned to Ephesus and in his last letter before his death (written to Ephesus) Paul mentioned this couple warmly (2 Tim. 4:19). Unlike some, they had not abandoned the faith.
Paul considered Priscilla and Aquila to be his “fellow workers in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 16:3). We do not know the details, but they had risked their lives for him (Rom. 16:4), possibly during the 18 months in Corinth or when he experienced fierce opposition in Ephesus (1 Cor. 15:32; 2 Cor. 1:8, 9). What we do know is, that Paul and “all the churches of the Gentiles” gave thanks to God for Priscilla and Aquila (Rom. 16:4).
Priscilla and Aquila are a wonderful example of faithful service together in the cause of Jesus Christ and their example has broad application to women and men together in ministry, so it is fitting that the Centre is named after them.