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Three marks of a house that serves the Lord

Three marks of a house that serves the Lord
Posted on May 26, 2019  - By Sam K. John

In Joshua 24:15, we see Joshua’s bold declaration towards the end of his life. I think this must be every sincere believer’s desire: to serve God as a family. Yet, I have come across husbands/wives who have shared their pain of not being able to serve the Lord as a family because their partners do not share the same vision. Having the same vision and commitment is a wonderful privilege — an essential to be successful in His ministry.

When we think of godly couples who served the Lord together in the New Testament, the names of Aquila and Priscilla stand out. When Luke compiled the history of the early church, he mentions this couple three times. In the same way, Apostle Paul wrote about them in three of his epistles. They were certainly a couple known for ‘serving God’ in the first-century church (Romans 16:4). Let’s try and reflect on some key takeaways from their family life.

Who were these people?

Luke offers a very brief introduction in Acts 18:1-3. Aquila was a Jew and Priscilla was likely a Roman citizen (her name was common among Roman aristocratic families). After marriage, they lived in Rome, working as tentmakers. As the Lord would permit, they had to leave Rome in AD 49, when the Roman Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews and Jewish-Christians. They moved to Corinth, a flourishing business centre at the time, which probably encouraged them to start a business there.

There are three significant aspects to this godly couple:

1. They were known for their togetherness.

Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned six times in the New Testament and all six times, they are mentioned together. This gives us good reason to assume they were an inseparable couple. Their life was not an easy one. Consider a few facts about their marriage:

  • They were from different cultures (it was a mixed marriage). Sure enough, there would have been differences of opinion between them.
  • Four times out of six, Priscilla was mentioned first. This is unusual in a male-dominated first-century culture (think Adam and Eve, Ananias and Sapphira). Perhaps, between the two, Priscilla might have been the more outspoken and gifted.
  • They were always on the run. First, they had to relocate to Corinth, then they moved to Ephesus, then back to Rome; again, they were expelled from Rome during Nero’s persecution, and finally they went back to Ephesus. A life full of uncertainties!  
  • Both of them had to work as tentmakers to make a living. Their trade wasn’t an easy profession.

In spite of all these difficulties, which had the potential to destroy their marriage, they still remained inseparable. What was the secret of their bond? The Bible does not explicitly talk about it — but one thing seems evident: the love of Christ dwelt in the hearts of both husband and wife. The love that united them was not a human love, but a divine one that only God could give (Romans 5:5). How a spouse relates with God individually is bound to affect their family life. Our vertical relationship with God helps us maintain all our horizontal relationships — and that includes marriage.

Our vertical relationship with God helps us maintain all our horizontal relationships — and that includes marriage

2. They were known for their knowledge of God’s Word.

In Acts 18:24-26, we see this couple explaining God’s Word to a powerful preacher named Apollos. He had both knowledge and zeal but there was something lacking in his preaching. He only knew the baptism of John. Perhaps he was introduced to Christianity through one of John the Baptist’s disciples. (In Acts 19, we see such disciples in Ephesus.) When Aquila and Priscilla heard him in the synagogue they took him into their house — and explained the Word of God more accurately. They were competent enough to explain the Scripture to a competent preacher.

Apollos was not an ordinary person. He was from Alexandria, where the world’s largest library of the times existed (roughly 700,000 volumes). How did Aquila and Priscilla become such competent people in the Scriptures? In spite of their busy schedules, they had time for worship, Bible reading and discussions. They had a spirit of learning. Pause and consider: how well do we know God’s Word? What efforts do we take to study it?

Let me add a word here for the sake of women. Was only Aquila involved in explaining the Scripture to Apollos? No, the scripture clearly says both. I don’t think that Priscilla was totally silent in all their Bible-related conversations. The Bible does not allow a woman to preach or teach in a church context (1 Timothy 2:12). However, it never prohibits women from learning Scripture. Unlike Jewish Rabbis, Jesus appreciated Mary learning at his feet. Likewise, the Bible never forbids a woman from sharing what she knows about His Word to other individuals.

3. They were known for their commitment to building up His kingdom.

Aquila and Priscilla were willing to spend — and be spent — for God (2 Corinthians 12:15). They realised they were God’s fellow workers (Romans 16:3). Though tent making was their occupation, it was not their preoccupation. Their goal in life was not to be the best tent makers where they lived or earn lots of money or quickly settle down life. Everything about their lives revolved around one purpose — to build up the kingdom of God. Think of the following contexts:

Though tent making was their occupation, it was not their preoccupation. Aquila and Priscilla’s lives revolved around one goal — building up the kingdom of God

  • They were twice expelled from Rome (by Claudius and Nero) but they didn’t backtrack because of it. When Paul moved from Corinth to Ephesus, they moved along with him, from a prospering business centre to a place quite dangerous for Christians — all for the advancement of the gospel.
  • They were willing to make sacrifices and take risks for His sake (Romans 16:3-4).
  • They were willing to open their houses for the church, which often met in their home, in Corinth, Ephesus and even Rome (1 Corinthians 16:19). It was not an easy task — not least because hospitality had to be ensured, but also because it involved huge risks, as Christians were considered an illegal religious group at the time.
  • They also opened their homes to God’s people (Paul and Apollos, among others). And in his last letter, Paul could not help remembering his friends (2 Timothy 4:19).

Aquila and Priscilla spent their time, money and gifts for the extension of God’s kingdom. How much of our resources are being spent for the sake of eternity? We do not remember Aquila and Priscilla for the tents they made or for any other worldly achievements. We remember them because of what they invested to build up God’s kingdom.

Sam K. John

About Sam K. John

Based out of Bangalore, India, Sam K. John heads Emmaus Academy of Biblical Studies (EABS), a correspondence Bible school catering to assembly believers across India and the Gulf. He is married to Jiji, and they have two children together.



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