There are a few times within the New Testament that disciples are mentioned by name, or even left nameless, as workers in the Kingdom. All of those disciples are worthy of consideration, if only for the fact they are called “workers”; someone who is willing not only to believe in Jesus, but to also get involved in His work, is someone worth our consideration!
Today, I would like to consider a couple of those named workers, Aquila and Priscilla. These individuals are worthy of note because they simply did what all disciples should have been doing, and should be doing even today. It is sometimes discouraging to have to talk about the things every disciple should know, and no less discouraging to have to talk about the things every disciple should be doing, but we also realize that the need for constant reminders and constant encouragement is just a part of our spiritual life. Jesus told the apostles the Spirit would “bring to your remembrance” the things He had given them (John 14:26) and the apostle Paul instructed Timothy and Titus to “remind” the brethren of things already taught (2 Tim. 2:14; Titus 3:1). Reminders are necessary, but it is better to not forget!
They Were Workers. (Rom. 16:3) Paul identified Aquila and Priscilla as his “fellow workers in Christ Jesus” and Paul was thankful for them for that reason. As we will see in a study of the passages mentioning their names, they did much for Christ and the work He would have us do; they worked! But the work they did was not just in spiritual matters [though that was certainly the meaning behind Paul's words]; they were also unafraid of physical labor for the provision of their own needs. When we are first introduced to them, Paul had met them and, because they were of the same trade [tent-making], they worked together (Acts 18:1-3). But they also labored with Paul in the work of spreading the gospel, going with him and being trustworthy enough that he left them in Ephesus (Acts 18:18, 19).
When we read Paul's description of Aquila and Priscilla as his “fellow workers,” we see in them what we should be today and what we need to be today. Jesus reminds us, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). Though that was said about 2000 years ago, the need is just as great and the workers just as few. Will you be a worker? It has been found in past surveys that only about 4% of any one congregation is made up of dedicated workers who do most of the work that is accomplished. That is a very low number! I can't answer for anyone here but myself, so I need to ask: Am I the worker I should be? What have I done for the work of the Lord in the last year? The last five years? There is much work to do and a limited time to do it!
They Cared About What Was Being Taught. (Acts 18:24-28) As tempting as it may have been to pass by Apollos, they did not. Though he was described as “an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24), and though “he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:25), he did not know it all. When Aquila and Priscilla heard what Apollos taught, they did not think it was "someone else's job" to correct him, but took the time to correct him because they cared what was being taught; they knew it mattered! No one ever likes confrontation, but it is sometimes necessary.
Sadly, many people — even some of our brethren in the Lord's church — don't seem to care very much about what is being taught. I can't tell you how disheartening it is to write to others or speak to them face-to-face about errors that are being propagated among brethren nowadays, only to get a "So what?" or a mere shrug of the shoulders as a response. Brethren, do we not care what is being taught anymore? Do we not care — as long as it is not here? Aquila and Priscilla cared enough to listen to others, first of all, but when they heard that Apollos was not teaching the full counsel of God, they did not shrug it off and go about their business; their business was God's business and they cared. We need to ask, as did Paul, “What does the Scripture say?” (Rom. 4:3) when we are discussing spiritual matters!
They Cared How They Treated Brethren. (Acts 18:26) An important point should be made here when it comes to the correction of Apollos. Let us first note that Aquila and Priscilla did not simply leave and go back to their computers and make an accusation of false teaching and publish it to the world wide web for all to see; they confronted the one who needed confronting (Apollos) and they took him aside to do it privately so as not to make a scene (Acts 18:26). They were not out to make a name for themselves by publicly embarrassing Apollos and promoting their latest book on exposing false teachers, but dealt with their brother in Christ with love, as they should have.
We, too, must deal with one another in this manner — with love, humility, and patience. As Paul wrote to the Ephesian brethren, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3). When we act in humility, gentleness, and patience, we will win them over to hear us and truth will be heard.
They Were Willing To Risk Their Lives. (Rom. 16:3, 4) While other disciples were called fellow workers, many stood for truth, and many no doubt corrected their brethren properly, it is the ones who give their lives that we remember most. And though Aquila and Priscilla [as far as we know] did not give their lives for the sake of their brethren, they were willing. And it wasn't just a matter of willingness to die for Christ; they were willing to die for their brethren! [cf. Rom. 5:7]
How willing are we to do the same thing today for our brethren? No, we may not be in a country where our lives are threatened, but are we willing? John reminds us, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). We either love one another enough to lay down our lives for one another or not, but there is no in-between. If Jesus was willing to lay down His life for me, why should I not be willing to do the same for one of my brethren? As John would later write, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). I don't have to 'hate' — I just have to not love!
Little else is known about Aquila and Priscilla, but they have left us some great lessons and great examples for us who are God's people today. The thing is, we, too, can do all thee things — if we are willing.
How about you? Will you join in the work? Will you care enough about what is being taught as God's will? Will you treat your brethren with love and patience? Would you die for them? — Steven Harper