Friday, October 7, 2011

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Priscilla ~ A Helping Hand

            Today’s guest was suggested by Marilyn In Mississippi. She said, “I think I would like to hear from Priscilla….wife of Aquila. (Acts 18: 26) I’ve always wondered about this verse where it says that ‘Aquila and his wife Priscilla took Apollos with them to expound the way of God more perfectly.’ ” 
            Thank you for the suggestion!
            I’m turning my dial back to A.D. 67. This is around 20 years after Aquila and Priscilla hosted Paul in their home for 18 months, making tents. I’m hoping she’ll be able to share a little about that and her and her husband’s experience with Apollos.

            Hi Priscilla! The first question I’d like to ask is about your occupation. What is involved in tent making?
Hello Natalie. When you start to make a tent, the first thing you have to have is a strong material. Leather was our most popular, though a cloth of woven goats' hair was also used. The skins would have to be softened and treated with different solutions to make them pliable, but at the same time sturdy and protected from snares. We would sew them together in a great sheet of skins, then patterns would be cut out and sewn at the seams. The sizes and designs of our tents were as varied as the customers who ordered them.
How did you and your husband come to pursue the craft?
Aquila and I were both born in Rome. His father was a tentmaker of great renown and my father, plying the same trade, owned a shop across the way. There had been a heated competition between the two, for as long as I remember. But, in our spare time, Aquila and I would play together, piecing together the scraps and making our own miniature tent. Despite the friction between our families, we married when we became of age and joined the two businesses, I being an only child and my father's heir.
With the growing fame of the arena games, commercial tent makers were booked months in advance, so customers whose orders weren’t related to that cruel sport came to us for business.
            It’s very interesting that you shared how you and Aquila met, because our next question is about the relationship between the two of you. There is never a place in the scripture where one is mentioned without the other. Have you always enjoyed that inseparability?
Well, yes and no. Before we became followers of The Way, we were closer than other married couples we knew. We married for love, not money or social standing, so we had more to build on than most. We also had much in common. But after we came to Christ, we realized there was a sweet fellowship between our spirits that, before, had not existed. 
In the six places where you and your husband are referenced, your name appears first in three and Aquila’s in the others. Is there a reason for that, do you think?
Possibly. Aquila and I enjoyed a fellowship and oneness that was uncommon for husbands and wives in our day. Women of that time were considered more like property. Even some of the Christian women who attended the church in our house held no more input in their own homes than hired servants. Aquila and I were never like that.
I will remind you, however, that when scripture speaks of our teaching Apollos, Aquila’s name is written first, likely symbolizing his primary role in that area of expounding scripture. Also, using what some call the law of "first mention" Aquila's name is first to be mentioned in the entire text.
I became a believer in Christ before Aquila, and I was always pushing him to grow and lead. At one point, I was convinced that it was my responsibility to take charge in the spiritual matters of our home, but when Paul came to stay with us, he quickly corrected me. He boldly taught that wives, though no less valuable, or intelligent, are to be subject to their husbands in the home and in church.
There is a Divinely established order of authority in the realm of mankind and in the realm of Deity. Woman is to yield to man’s authority and man to God’s. Jesus yielded to God’s authority in everything. He said, “In all things, I please the Father.” “Not my will but Thine...” Everyone is under the authority of someone. A man is under the Lord, a wife, her husband and a servant, his master. This is not the teaching of man, but of God.
I also learned very quickly than a man will not hold contest with a woman to be the champion of something. He doesn’t consider it a win if he has to defeat his wife in the process. Paul made it very clear to me that Aquila would stand responsible before the Lord for his spiritual guidance in our house and I could either help him by supporting him in his duty, or cause him to desire to give up his God-given responsibility with my contention.
            Wow. You’ve given me a lot to think about. While I consider what you just said, do you mind telling what Apollos had to be corrected in, exactly?
Well, in all truth, he was not teaching heresy. He was a very learned man, bold in the scriptures. But he was a disciple of only John and did not know to teach that Jesus, the Messiah, had come and was the true sacrifice for our sins.
I remember standing in the synagogue with Aquila like it was yesterday. This was after Paul had left us and we still gathered with the Jews in the place where he taught. Apollos began his message and I was waiting with anticipation for this fervent, eloquent man to come to the part about Jesus of Nazareth, but he never did. I was very disappointed. When Apollos stepped down, finished with his incomplete message, Aquila caught my eye across the room. Women and men were separated for the teachings, but I could see him through the lattice that parted us. It was clear Aquila felt the same as I. That day, Aquila bravely approached Apollos, invited him into our home, and began to tell him the rest of The Story. Apollos was a very humble man, readily accepting our words.
Did you and Aquila ever have children?
I have wished a thousand times over that I could say yes to that question. That was one of the greater sorrows that Aquila and I shared. It was always our desire, but the Lord proved to us that “His grace is sufficient.” Because of our childlessness, we were able to move several times and witness the love of Jesus to many varied characters that we might have been afraid to entertain, were there children in our home. I remember the time we won to the Lord a gladiator, recently escaped from his master in Rome. His was one conversion I don’t believe I’ll ever forget.
Ah, I’m letting the memories wing me away.
Concerning your question, you know, I think Aquila’s decision to teach Apollos was greatly produced from the fact that he never had a son of his own. The span of Aquila’s and Apollos’ age difference was not great enough to represent a father and son, but that type camaraderie was there just the same. We fellowshipped and exhorted one another in the scriptures. It was a wonderful time, though I did bite my tongue and rephrase my thoughts on more than one occasion so that I would not be overriding or “usurping the authority” as Paul warned us against. On the other hand, I was able to share my testimony and use our times together to magnify Jesus and His works. All the glory goes to him. I am nothing more than a wife, a tent-maker and a woman who loves her Lord.
            Thank you, Priscilla. I’ve enjoyed our conversation very much. I’m going to give you the last word on this. Do you have any advice for Christian writers today?

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Always look for a chance to help those around you, whether they are struggling in areas you've already experienced or are far ahead of you in accomplishments. If you are on the receiving side, always remember to give thanks, to God and your benefactor.
Lend a helping hand. Encourage, and build up. Be gentle in correction and faithful in prayer for others. We all need help from time to time, and your edification may be the Godsend someone has been praying for.  After his time in our home, Apollos became a great preacher to the Jews and many were saved because of his preaching. It was none of our doing, but all the Lord’s.


Natalie here. Just wanted to say that I took more liberties with Priscilla’s story than with Dorcas’. The parts about how she and Aquila met and the conversion of the gladiator came right out of my fiction-filled head. And the Bible doesn’t say when Priscilla or Aquila was saved or who came to Christ first. I’m thinking they were believers before they left Rome, but I have no scripture to back that up. That’s just a hunch of mine. Also, there has been much debate as to whether Apollos recognized Jesus as the Christ and was merely  ignorant of the filling of the Holy Spirit, or if he taught only what John taught--"Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt. 3:2) I did my best to present my understanding of it, but do not claim to be an expert on the subject.
And the "keeping it short next time" thing? Well, that went right out the window. After hearing how much Priscilla had to say in this interview, I think she might have had a more active role in exhorting Apollos than she knew. ;)
The winner of the First Blog Post Celebration Giveaway is... Drum-roll please. Victoria Willard. Please email me at simmadar(at)yahoo(dot)com and give your mailing address, so I can send you the book. 
Next week's randomly selected guest will be Deborah suggested by Debby Giusti and Victoria and Joel.





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