Aquila and his wife Priscilla were Jews and natives of Pontus. Pontus extended along the coast of the Pontus Euxinus Sea, from which the name was derived. It is mentioned three times in the New Testament (Acts 2:9; 18:2; 1 Peter 1:1). These passages show there were many Jewish residents in the district. Under Nero the whole region was made a Roman province, bearing the name of Pontus. It was conquered by the Turks in 1461, and is still under their dominion.
The name Aquila means ‘eagle.’ He most likely had a Hebrew name, but it is not known. It was a common custom for Jews outside of Palestine to take Roman names, and it is just by that name we know him. Priscilla means ‘venerable or ancient.’
Their occupation was tent making. They had fled from Rome to Corinth when the emperor Claudius had commanded all Jews to leave that city in AD 52. Suetonius states it was due to fanatical Jews persecuting Jews who had become Christians therefore causing tumults. So without investigation the Emperor fed up with it just made them all leave. When Paul came to Corinth, where Aquila and Priscilla fled to, he found them and stayed with them for some time, working with them at the trade of tent making.
Later, when Paul was opposed by the Jews, and perhaps to remove any obstacle to his reception by the Gentiles, he left the house of Aquila and dwelled with a man named Justus.
It is not clear when Aquila and Priscilla became Christians, but it was certainly before Paul left Corinth, because they travelled with him to Ephesus. Paul was able to teach them a great deal about Christ in a short time, because we see Aquila and Priscilla giving instruction to Apollos in Ephesus (Acts 18). They appear to have been zealous promoters of the cause of Christ in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:19).
And he [Paul] found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them. (Acts 18:2)
After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. (Acts 18:18)
He [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:26)
Aquila and Priscilla later returned to Rome, and their home there was a place where the believers assembled (Romans 16:3ff).
Some years after that they seem to have returned to Ephesus, because Paul sends salutations to them there during his second imprisonment at Rome (2 Timothy 4:19).
Such brief mentions, yet so useful in the cause of Christ.
This article is from BiBloS, a teaching resource of the British Bible School. To read more articles or download the whole of Issue 3, click here.