Divine Empowerment of Leaders

Divine Empowerment of Leaders, Study of Luke(Page 23)

By Allen Quist 

Priscilla (Prisca), a Divinely Empowered Woman

From the background of the strongly masculine mindset of the early years of the Christian church, Luke mentioning a woman by name is a noteworthy detail. Including several events involving the same woman, highlights her position as a person of influence (Reimer 195). Priscilla’s name appears several times and in separate references confirming the contention she had a significant influence in the years of the early church (Acts 18:2-3, 18, 26-27; 1 Cor. 16;19; Rom. 16:3; 2 Tim. 4:19).

Mentioning Priscilla [‘Prisca’ in some translations] along with her husband Aquila indicates they functioned as a ministry team. Priscilla’s name is usually placed ahead of Aquila (Acts 18:2-3, 26-27; I Cor. 16:19; Rom. 16:3; 2 Tim. 4:19): placing her name first in the Greek language is an indication of her importance to their team (Hyatt par.7; Reimer 195). A primary location for their ministry was the church that met in their home (Rom. 16:3-5; 1 Cor. 16:19); such a ministry would naturally involve the participation of both members of the household. In Romans 16:3, Paul thanks “Prisca [Priscilla] and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life” (expecting God’s power); if they had not been working as a team, only Aquila would have been mentioned in this situation. “Luke sees no occasion to distinguish between the work of one and the other” (Reimer 217).

Priscilla’s divine empowerment is confirmed by Paul’s commendation (“who work with me in Christ Jesus” Rom. 16:3) and Priscilla’s ministry to the life of Apollos (concern for all people) (Acts 18:26-27). Knowing Paul’s evangelistic emphasis, he would share ministry only with divinely empowered believers (expecting God’s power). In Acts 18: 26-27, Priscilla and Aquila instructed Apollos, “an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures” who “taught accurately the things of Jesus” (Acts 18:24-25). However, when Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak, “they took him [Apollos] aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately” (Acts 18:26) (clear communication); since Apollos “knew only the baptism of John,” he appears to be lacking the divine empowerment of Priscilla, Aquila, and other early believers. (Acts 18:25). That they could explain Christianity “more accurately” is a confirmation of Luke’s acceptance of them as knowledgeable teachers (clear communication – prophecy) (Witherington 564). Witherington states, “both Priscilla and Aquila instruct[ing] Apollos is significant, for Luke wishes to show the variety of roles women played in early Christianity. …That Luke presents Priscilla as involved in a positive way in teaching this important early Christian figure implies he approves of such activities by a Christian woman” (567).

Romans 16:3-4 states, Paul gives thanks to Prisca [Priscilla] and Aquila for saving his life and so do “all the churches of the Gentiles;” many churches knew of their joint ministry. Possibly many knew them because they had lived in a number of different places (Reimer 212). The references in Acts, Romans, and 1 Corinthians show that they lived in Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor (214).

The New Testament references show that Priscilla was “recognized as a highly esteemed missionary who is understood as Paul’s ‘co-worker’ and who stands as an equal not only alongside Aquila, but also in the company of Paul and other missionaries” (Reimer 219).

In Acts, Luke shows how the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of women in various early Christian communities (concern for all people). Women were among the first converts, such as Lydia (Acts 16:14-15). They ministered to others in their church, such as Tabitha (Acts 9:36). They prayed Next Pagefor the early church and its leaders (Acts 12:12). They prophesied, such as the four virgin daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8-9). Witherington writes, “we find women being converted and serving the Christian community in roles that in many cases would not have been available to them apart from that community” (339).

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