Taking A Careful Look At The Ministry Of Women In The New Testament Church (Part Eight)

It is written:

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4  who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.” (Romans 16:3-4)

One of the women in the New Testament who was very important to the work of the church is Priscilla (who was the wife of Aquila). Notice some passages which mention her in detail:

Acts 18:2-3-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. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.

Acts 18:18-So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.

Acts 18:26-So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

1 Corinthians 16:19-The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

Several things about these passages are worthy of notice.

First, Priscilla was a faithful Christian, and a godly Christian wife.

Second, Priscilla worked outside the home (she was a tentmaker with her husband Aquila). This is especially interesting when considering the other passages in Acts which affirm women working outside the home at times (cf. Acts 13:50; 16:14; 17:12).

Third, it is important to notice that Priscilla was a teacher of the Gospel. She was one who Paul called a ‘fellow worker” with him. By studying Paul’s usage of this phrase throughout the New Testament, we see this clearly means that she was a teacher of the Gospel and minister of spiritual truths:

1 Corinthians 3:9-For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.

2 Corinthians 1:24-Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.

2 Corinthians 8:23-If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.

Philippians 2:25-Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need;

Philippians 4:3-And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.

Colossians 4:11-and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.

3 John 1:8-We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.

Fourth, it is interesting to notice that Priscilla is mentioned before Aquila in this passage in Romans. This could be very significant in indicating that she was here honored as being more influential in her teaching of the Gospel. Word order made very much difference in the Greek of the New Testament.

“Doubtless the most controversial episode in Acts with respect to gender roles is the enigmatic account about Priscilla and Aquila (18: 18–26). Fellow tentmakers with Paul, this couple is referred to six times in the NT (18: 2, 18, 26; Rom. 16: 3; 1 Cor. 16: 19; 2 Tim. 4: 19). Four of the times, Priscilla’s name appears first (Acts 18: 18, 26; Rom. 16: 3; 2 Tim. 4: 19), whereas one would normally have expected her husband to be listed first in every instance. Presumably, she was the more prominent partner in some respect, perhaps in their ministry.” (James R. Beck, Two Views Of Women In Ministry, 146-147 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

As with the example from Apollos, we see also that women are authorized to instruct and teach both men and women in the Gospel.

Finally, please consider that Priscilla and Aquila are both said to have opened up their homes for the local church to assemble in worship and fellowship. It is noteworthy this was a common locale for the teaching and preaching of the Word of God (Acts 5:42; 20:20).

Priscilla teaches us a great deal about the ministry of Christian women in the early church.

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