Ephesians 5:32-33- This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. NKJV
Leonardo Da Vinci is the famed artist of the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is considered to be the most famous portrait in the world. The mystery surrounding the identity of the woman who sat for the portrait adds to the allure of the painting. Whether you like paintings or not, the Mona Lisa is definitely at the top of world class paintings.
Marriage is a portrait! When we read Paul’s description in Ephesians about the relationship between a husband and his wife, he tells us that the institution of marriage is a portrait of Christ and His bride. I have to admit, until today, I never thought about where Paul got his analogy. When he spoke of the armor, he used a Roman soldier’s armor to describe the armor of God. When he spoke of marriage, it makes me wonder if he was thinking of his two dear friends: Aquila and Priscilla!
The Bible tells us that Aquila was born a Jew and he lived in Asia Minor. For those of us who struggle with geography, Asia Minor covers most of modern-day Turkey. Pontus, the city Aquila was from, was located on the Black Sea. We are not given much information about where Priscilla lived, but by the time we meet them in the scriptures, their home was Rome.
While living in Rome, both Aquila and Priscilla gave their lives to the Lord. In AD 49, the emperor, Claudius, banished all Jews from Rome. At this point, both Aquila and his wife leave Rome and move to Corinth. It is in Corinth that they meet Paul.
After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 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.Acts 18:1-2 NKJV
Luke mentions that Aquila was a Jew, but not Priscilla, which leads me to believe that she was a Gentile. Aquila and Priscilla worked together to make tents. When Paul meets them and discovers they are tentmakers, we find out that he also knows how to work with leather to create tents.
So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.Acts 18:3 NKJV
We find this couple sharing every aspect of their lives together. That’s not possible, nor required in today’s society, as we each have our own gifts and talents, but their togetherness is a beautiful thing to witness. When they invited Paul to live and work with them while he was in Corinth, they had to be pretty confident in the strength of their marriage and their commitment to Jesus. Otherwise, it would have been an uncomfortable visit with an astute visitor.
The three of them became good friends and co-laborers for Christ. Paul even noted that Aquila and Priscilla risked their lives to save his life. We don’t know in what way, but we do know that they had established a strong bond with each other.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 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 NKJV
We know that Paul conducted ministry while in Corinth. Therefore, we can assume that meetings were held in the home of Aquila and Priscilla since Paul lived with them. What we also learn about them is that they both taught the word of God. Since Paul refers to them as co-laborers, we know that they weren’t just hosts in these meetings, but were also instrumental in ministering to those in attendance.
When Paul left Corinth for Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla left their home and accompanied him. When Paul left Ephesus, they remained with the church that was there. While in Ephesus, they met Apollos, a Jewish believer.
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.Acts 18:24-25 NKJV
Apollos was from Alexandria, which was located in Egypt. He was a Hellenistic Jew who had become a believer in the Lord. But he only knew of the baptism of repentance that John the Baptist had taught. On fire for the Lord, he was very charismatic and taught with accuracy, yet something was lacking!
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.Acts 18:26 NKJV
Apollos understood that Jesus is the Christ, but he didn’t understand other things that were foundational to his growth in God. Especially since he was boldly preaching the word, leading others to Christ!
The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about Aquila and Priscilla, but we do know that Paul spent a lot of time with them. And because of that, we know he saw what a great marriage looked like! Not being married himself, he had to admire the companionship and love that he witnessed between his friends. He had to see the respect Priscilla had for her husband and how her husband loved her sacrificially. He had to come to the conclusion that their marriage was a picture of a godly marriage!
Husbands, love your wives like Christ loved the church and sacrificed His life for her. Love your wives like you love yourself, cherish her! Wives respect your husband! Submit to each other, and wives understand that you are to submit to your own husband!
That’s what I see in the marriage of Aquila and Priscilla! They worked well together! They respected each other in their marriage relationship, in their business relationship, and in their kingdom relationship. It is apparent that Paul respected them both, calling them both co-laborers and friends. It is apparent that he respected their marriage.
I’ve done some reading on the culture of early church believers. Their relationship was not necessarily the norm. Their marriage was a great witness when they were living, and stand today as a powerful witness for marriages today. Especially for those in ministerial positions and places of leadership. Each submitting to the other. Each demonstrating love and respect for each other. Working and serving in the kingdom as one! What an absolutely beautiful portrait of a marriage!
Many years ago we were looking for a new church home. We visited a church whose pastor was truly a gifted teacher of the word. But that morning he said something to his wife that rubbed us the wrong way. We did not join that ministry, although we did get to know them better. And we still didn’t care for the way he treated his wife!
People are always watching. They especially want to see a marriage that truly represents Christ and His bride. While we are imperfect in our natural state, there can still be something truly beautiful about the picture we paint of marriage as believers. I think Aquila and Priscilla painted a lovely portrait, and I am thankful for their example. Wonderful Jesus!