Encouragement

Paul was alone and possibly, he was depressed, when he left Athens. He needed to be encouraged, and God’s providence had stimuli waiting in Corinth.

There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them (Acts 18:2-3)

ENCOURAGEMENT FROM PRISCILLA AND AQUILA (ACTS 18:1-4). What the Roman Emperor Claudius meant for evil turned out for good for Paul as well as for Priscilla and Aquila. The couple were living in Rome in A.D. 49 when Claudius expelled all the Jews because of a riot over a certain “Chrestus,” who some think is an allusion to the Jewish arguments over Christ. Jewish Christians like Priscilla and Aquila were also forced to leave Rome.

So the couple moved to Corinth, where they set up their tent-making business. They are a well-to-do Jewish couple and their business may have had many branches in several centers, with a manager in charge of each branch. Thus, they were able to move back and forth easily between Rome, Corinth and Ephesus.

When Paul arrived, they opened their home to him and invited him to work with them. They entered into Paul’s inner circle and became an important part of his team. They are a good example of how “lay ministers” can help to further the work of the Lord. Every pastor and missionary thanks God for people like Aquila and Priscilla, people with hearts, hands, and homes dedicated to the work of the Lord. Their services to the Christian cause evidently far exceeded their personal services to Paul; for he wrote:

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them (Romans 16:3-4).

The trio later worked and ministered together in Ephesus, which may be where Priscilla and Aquila “risked their lives” for Paul, possibly when he “fought wild beasts in Ephesus.” Priscilla is sometimes pictured with two lions that refuse to attack her, lending credence to this tradition.

When Claudius died in A.D. 54, Priscilla and Aquila returned to Rome and again hosted a church in their home, to which Paul sent greetings in his letter to the Romans. A tradition of the sixth century claims that the Roman church “Prisca” on the Avenue Hill stands over their original house-church. According to tradition, husband and wife were beheaded around A.D. 80.

The trio was tentmakers, literally leather-workers—craftsmen. The Jew glorified work. “Love work,” they said. “He who does not teach his son a trade teaches him robbery.” Paul must have been a skilled craftsman. He took pride in the fact that he was a burden to no man (2 Corinthians 11:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8).

ENCOURAGEMENT FROM SILAS AND TIMOTHY (ACTS 18:5). Paul’s mind was not at rest. He was very anxious about his young churches in Thessalonica and Philippi. He had not been able to stay with them long enough to really to establish them, he feared, and he was very apprehensive to what effect his sudden departure might have on them.

Silas and Timothy had been left behind at Berea with instructions to meet Paul at Athens. They did meet in Athens as planned (Acts 17:6; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Timothy was sent to Thessalonica to encourage the church and Silas must have gone to some place in Macedonia, perhaps Philippi (Acts 18:5).

Both men rejoined Paul at Corinth, bringing a report from Thessalonica:

Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you (1 Thessalonians 3:6).

In addition to this encouraging news, they brought a gift, which freed Paul to devote himself exclusively to preaching and testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah (2 Corinthians 11:8-9; Philippians 4:15).

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