Brief Notes

How Prisca
and Aquila
were Saved

20 October 2022

It was not what
they heard, but what
they saw: a man
who lived Christ

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
— 2 Timothy 4:19

There is a very important principle in studying the Bible, that quite often, what the Bible doesn’t tell us is as important as what it does tell us. This is certainly the case in considering the question of how Prisca and Aquila were saved, because the Bible doesn’t seem to tell us how that happened. All we are told is that, when Paul came to Athens,

…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. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.
— Acts 18:2-3

We next read of Prisca and Aquila when, after more than 1 1/2 years, Paul left Corinth and they accompanied him on his journey until he left them in Ephesus. While there they met Apollos, who was preaching the gospel in a limited way, and they “explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). So at this point they were clearly co-workers with Paul for the gospel.

But there is just no record of how, at some point between these two mentions, Paul shared the way of salvation with them. They no doubt would have heard his messages when he reasoned with the Jews and Greeks in the synagogue there in Corinth (Acts 18:4), but the Bible doesn’t say that they heard the word and believed. Instead, it simply says that Paul moved in with them because, like him, they were tentmakers.

Why does the Holy Spirit record their history in this way? To impress us with the fact that they were not saved by Paul’s preaching, but by his living.

That is, as they worked together with Paul making tents, there was something about his very living and working that, day after day, drew them to Christ and opened them to receive the message of the gospel. They saw in Paul a man who lived Christ (Phil. 1:21), and they could not help but be attracted by a living such as that.

And how solid was such a salvation! Not only did they leave their home in Corinth to go with Paul to Ephesus, but he had enough confidence in them to leave them there on their own, which no doubt helped prepare the way for the work in that area when he returned. Later the church in Rome met in their home; in his letter to the Romans Paul calls them “my fellow workers in Christ Jesus” and says “they risked their own necks for my life” (16:3-5). And even at the very end of his life, by which time a number of his full-time co-workers had abandoned him (2 Tim. 4:10), they were still faithful, so that he could tell Timothy to greet them on his behalf (2 Tim. 4:19).

We need to learn the lesson from the case of Prisca and Aquila, that how we live our lives will have a great effect on our ability to share the gospel, especially with those we are close to.

Hudson Taylor, the great 19th century missionary to China, certainly knew this truth. He said,

The cause of want of success [in the gospel] is very often that we are only half-saved ourselves. If we are fully saved and confess it, we shall see results….

We tell this people that the world is vain; let our lives manifest that it is so. We tell them that our Home is above, that all these things are transitory; does our dwelling look like it? Oh, to live consistent lives! The life of the Apostle Paul was thoroughly consistent….No one could feel that his home was here; all saw that it was up there.

Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission, Volume 2, The Growth of a Work of God, pages 405-406; emphasis original.

Lord, grant us to live “consistent lives,” so that both by our speaking and by our living Your gospel may be brought to those who see us day by day!

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— 20 October 2022 —