My husband and I have moved often. We were both living and working in Geelong when we married. Two years later, my husband received a promotion in his bank employment and we moved to Gippsland. We enjoyed living there but a drought caused a downturn in the town’s economy and we were forced to move to Melbourne. Then, an opportunity came up in Geelong and we moved back to our hometown. Several years later we left Geelong again for my husband to take up a position on Phillip Island. Later, we moved to a beautiful little town in northeast Victoria when my husband became a bank manager. I loved this town and never wanted to leave but we had felt called to pastoral ministry for some time. So after commuting for his theological studies, our family moved to Queensland so my husband could take up his first pastoral position. Three years later we moved back to Victoria and continued in pastoral ministry at a variety of churches. We even returned to the beautiful little town in northeast Victoria to take up a pastoral position there.
When I look back on my life there seems to be no logical sequence, just a hotchpot of events and places. Yet I’m encouraged by Jesus’ words, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). And also by the writer to the Hebrews who wrote about the Old Testament saints who lived by faith, “They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth” (Hebrews 11:13).
God calls many of his people to an itinerant lifestyle, like Priscilla.
When we read about the different places where Priscilla and Aquila ministered, we find they also relocated several times. They even returned to places where they had once lived as they were led by God. Priscilla and Aquila were Jewish Christians from Rome. We first read about them when Paul met them in Corinth. “[Paul] became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was” (Acts 18:2-3 NLT).
This wasn’t the first time Jews had been deported from Rome as previous emperors had also removed the Jewish population. Historical records don’t reveal whether Claudius was responding to a real problem or an imagined one.
In Luke’s introduction to this couple, Aquila is mentioned first. He is also mentioned first when they later send their formal greetings back to the church in Corinth via Paul’s letter (1 Corinthians 16:19). However, in the other five instances where they are discussed Priscilla is named first, which was quite unusual in this culture and suggests she became the more prominent leader. Priscilla’s role is described in the way we would depict a missionary or a pastor.
Priscilla is a deported Jew from Rome when her life unexpectedly changes direction. She and her husband meet Paul who expounds the Scriptures to them in the local synagogue in Corinth and also while they make tents together. Priscilla is teachable and she receives a Bible College education first-hand from Paul. When Paul moves on, Priscilla and Aquila make themselves available to God and travel with Paul to Ephesus.
Priscilla and Aquila become full-time missionaries and are thrown into a completely different vocation with the inherent challenges of adapting to a new culture and preaching the gospel in a somewhat hostile environment. Priscilla and Aquila eventually return home to Rome, probably after Claudius Caesar dies. However, Priscilla isn’t the same person. She has become a knowledgeable teacher and a pastoral leader in the church, a difficult role in a male-dominated world. Would her old friends accept her in this different role?
The final mention of Priscilla and Aquila is by Paul in his second letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:19) which would imply they had returned to Ephesus. There is some conjecture about when Paul wrote his letters so we aren’t sure, but this seems their likely movements.
Sacrificing for the Kingdom
Priscilla learnt to be flexible as she ministered in different cultures and churches. She made a difference in the communities where she ministered. Moving often is disruptive to making friends and maintaining relationships, yet Priscilla was prepared to make the sacrifice because she believed God’s kingdom was worth it.
May Priscilla’s story inspire us to be teachable, available and flexible so we too can make a difference in the places where God has placed us.
More articles about women in the Bible can be found here.