Priscilla and Aquila

7_Priscilla and AquilaScripture Reference: Acts 18:1-28

Story Overview: In Corinth Paul met a couple named Priscilla and Aquila.  The three of them built tents together to earn a living.  Whenever he was not making tents Paul taught people about Jesus.  After about a year and a half Paul, Priscilla and Aquila traveled to the city of Ephesus together.  Priscilla and Aquila stayed on in Ephesus to make tents and tell people about Jesus while Paul returned to Antioch.  Once, when a great teacher named Apollos came to Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila invited him to their house and explained the real meaning of baptism to him.  Apollos was grateful and went on to Corinth where he continued to share the good news of Jesus.

Suggested Emphasis: We should teach about Jesus and be good examples no matter what kind of job we have.

Background Study
Way to Introduce the Story
The Story
Review Questions
Craft and Activity Ideas
Online Resources

Click here for an overview of the Book of Acts

Background Study:

Paul's 2nd Missionary JourneyThe story of Priscilla and Aquila takes place during the last stages of Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey.  That journey had started in Antioch.  Paul, Silas and Timothy travelled across Asia Minor and entered into the new area of Macedonia.  After preaching at Mars Hill in Athens, Paul went to Corinth where he met Priscilla and Aquila.  After spending quite some time there he travels with them as far as Ephesus then returns back to the place where the trip began, Antioch, Syria.  Eventually, Paul will begin yet another missionary journey and return to Ephesus once again.  Paul in Ephesus.  

But now, on arrival at Corinth Paul meets a fellow Jewish Christian named Aquila.  Aquila and his wife, Priscilla had been among the Jews recently expelled from Rome by Claudius.  History records the date of that expulsion as 49 A.D. so this makes it easy to put a date to the beginnings of the church in Corinth.

After this initial meeting Priscilla and Aquila are always mentioned together and, unusual to other couples mentioned in the Bible, her name comes first each time.  Although it is not certain, some explanations offered for this are that she was of higher social standing than him or that she took the lead in teaching.  Whatever the name order, they seem to be the first mentioned in the New Testament as a married couple working as vocational missionaries.  It is clear that they worked together as a team both in their profession (tent-making) and in sharing their faith with others.  Paul mentions them in a number of his other writings.  Romans 16:3-4 , 1 Corinthians 16:19 ,  2 Timothy 4:19

The tent-making trade would have been a profitable one because many people of the time used them for dwellings and while travelling.  It would have been customary for young Jewish boys to learn a trade and this trade was now very useful to Paul.  More information about tentmakers here.  He was able to financially support himself but still find time to teach in the synagogue.

Even when the leaders of the synagogue opposed him Paul continued teaching the Gentiles in the community.  The Jews from the synagogue tried to accuse Paul before the Roman-appointed proconsul, Gallio, but the case was thrown out of court.

Eventually, Paul, Priscilla and Aquila left Corinth for Ephesus where Priscilla and Aquila remained.  They seem to continue making tents and sharing the Gospel.

Apollos arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria, Egypt.  Alexandria was well known as the intellectual centre of Egypt and held a world-renowned library.  It was the 2nd most important city in the Roman Empire and there was a large population of Christians there.

Although Apollos was a dynamic speaker who knew much about Jesus he only knew about the baptism of John.  There was a significant difference between John’s baptism and the later Christian baptism we read about in the Book of Acts.  The baptism that John the Baptist taught was a baptism of repentance that prepared people for the coming of the Messiah (Matthew 3:1-12).  Once Jesus was revealed as Messiah through his death, burial and resurrection baptism took on a new and fuller meaning involving forgiveness of sin through the Messiah.   Peter first preached this distinction in the Sermon at Pentecost:

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”  Acts 2:36-38, NIV

Priscilla and Aquila did not publicly confront Apollos while he was preaching but, rather, invited him to their home to explain this difference.  Their respectful manner must have impressed Apollos.

Apollos went on to Achaia (Corinth) to continue the work there.  His Alexandrian education seems to have helped him do well in the public debates with the Jews.  Later, when Paul writes a letter to the Corinthian church he explains the role both he and Apollos played in establishing the church in Corinth:

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”  1 Corinthians 3:6


Way to Introduce the Story:
Before class use blankets and sheets to form a tent in your classroom. When it is time to begin class ask all of the children to get inside the tent with you. “Today we are going to learn about some people in the book of Acts who had a job making tents. Why do you think people needed tents in the first century?” (Staying overnight when they travelled, room for extra guests, etc.) “How do you think tents were made since there were no sewing machines? Who wants to guess who one of the tentmakers was in the Book of Acts? Let’s listen to the story and find out!

The Story:
Paul was a missionary sent by the church in Antioch to go and tell people about Jesus.  This missionary journey had taken him very far and more and more people were beginning to follow Jesus.  When Paul came to the city of Corinth he met a man named Aquila and his wife, Priscilla.  Paul must have been happy to find out that they followed Jesus.  Priscilla and Aquila were tentmakers. Many people used tents.  Some lived in tents and others used tents when they were travelling.

Paul knew how to make tents too so he joined them in their work. Paul worked hard and did a good job making tents with Priscilla and Aquila.  But every week on the Sabbath Paul went to the synagogue where all of the Jews gathered.  He told them about Jesus.

Soon, Paul’s fellow missionaries (Silas and Timothy) came to Corinth too.  Paul was so happy because now they could all teach people.

But not everyone was happy to hear about Jesus.  Some of the Jewish leaders were so angry at Paul that they made him leave the synagogue.  As he was leaving the synagogue Paul told them that the Jews were not the only ones who could be saved.  He would go and teach the Gentiles. (Gentiles were people who were not Jews).

And guess what?!  A Gentile named Titius Justus lived right next to the synagogue.  Titius Justus invited Paul to come to his house and teach everyone.  After they heard about Jesus they wanted to follow him.  Titius Justus and everyone in his house were baptised.  Many other people in Corinth were baptised too.  Even Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue ended up deciding to follow Jesus and be baptised.

Paul stayed in Corinth for another year working with Priscilla and Aquila  and teaching people.  Even though some people rejected Jesus Paul knew that he would always be safe.  He knew this because Jesus came to him in a vision while he was sleeping.

In the vision Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”

Eventually some of the angry Jews tried to get Paul into trouble with the Roman proconsul, Gallio.  They told Gallio that Paul was breaking the law by talking about Jesus.  But Gallio, the law-keeper, told the Jews that Paul was not breaking the law and set Paul free.  In fact, it was the Jewish synagogue ruler that ended up getting in trouble.  He was even beaten to death.

After a while Paul, Priscilla and Aquila decided to leave Corinth.  They sailed for the city of Ephesus.  Priscilla and Aquila wanted to stay in Ephesus so they could make tents and teach more people about Jesus.

Paul decided that the time had come for him to finish this missionary journey.  Paul had started his journey in Antioch and travelled great distances spreading the Good News to everyone.  Now he returned to Antioch to tell the church there all of the great things God had been doing while he travelled.

Meanwhile, back in Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila heard of a great teacher names Apollos that had come to Ephesus from Alexandria, Egypt.  They went to the synagogue to hear him preach.  He was a great preacher and he told the people all about Jesus.

There was only one problem.  Priscilla and Aquila realised that Apollos was only telling part of the Good News.  Apollos did not know about the new meaning of being baptised.  He was teaching people the old meaning like John the Baptist used to teach.  So Priscilla and Aquila invited Apollos to their house and explained the new meaning to him.  Jesus had died on the cross and had been raised from the dead.  He was the Messiah.  Now people could be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.

So now Apollos was an even better teacher!  He could tell people that Jesus could wash away their sins.  When Apollos decided to go to Corinth everyone was so happy.  They even sent a letter with him telling the Christians in Corinth to welcome him.

Apollos went to Corinth—the place where Priscilla and Aquila first met Paul.  Because he was such a good teacher he was a great help to the church there in Corinth.

This story reminds us that anyone can tell the good news of Jesus whether they are a preacher, a teacher, a missionary, or tent-maker.  What kind of job do you think you will have some day?  Who will you teach about Jesus?

Visual Aids:  You might like to try telling the story using one of the following free visual aids.  The first and second work well if you are showing it on a computer, laptop or tablet. The third one works well for printing.  Or view the online slideshow below if you prefer not to download

  1. Paul Meets Priscilla and Aquila_Slide Show to download
    (.pptx 11 MB file size)
  2. Paul Meets Priscilla and Aquila_Slideshow to download_older format
    (.ppt 10.2 MB file size)
  3. Paul Meets Priscilla and Aquila_Visual Aid to download and print
    (.pdf 3.49 MB file size)

Review Questions:

  1. What was Paul’s job? Tent maker
  2. Who were the husband and wife who were tentmakers? Aquila and Priscilla
  3. In Corinth, Paul made tents during the week and preached in the synagogues when? Each Sabbath-Saturday
  4. When Aquila and Priscilla moved to Ephesus, they heard a man named Apollos preaching about Jesus. Why did they invite him to their house? He was not teaching correctly about baptism so they taught him so he would understand.

Craft and Activity Ideas:

(How to choose the best learning activities for my teaching situation)


Other Online Resources:


6 Responses to Priscilla and Aquila

  1. Aja says:

    Your explanation of the journey of Paul, Priscilla and Aquila really helped me to understand better the scripture Acts chapter 18. Thank you. Many time the history of events gives light to many questions the reader might have in regards to the scripture.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you, Aja. I’m trying to finish the lessons from the book of Acts. I’m learning so much as I study so I appreciate your comment.

  2. Debbie @ says:

    Thanks so much for sharing my blog posts! I really appreciate it!

    • Mary says:

      You have such a wonderful blog. I’ve linked it because I know there are lots of teachers who could really use your good ideas. Thank YOU!

  3. Don Jones says:

    Here is a story about AQUILA AND PRISCILLA that I put together with a Sunday School class:
    Aquila was a Jew from Pontus. He learned the skill of tent making from his father. He traveled to Rome and there met his wife Priscilla. Sometime around the year 40 AD they heard the Gospel and became followers of Jesus. They helped to establish the church in Rome. In the year 49 they, along with all the other Jewish people, were expelled from Rome by Claudius because of the unrest between the Jews and the Christians. They traveled to Corinth and set up their business there. Soon after they arrived, the Apostle Paul came to Corinth. Since Paul was also a tent maker, they invited him to stay and work with them in their business. For eighteen months they listened to the teaching of Paul about Jesus. It was at Corinth that Paul made a definite switch in his ministry and began to focus on the Gentiles.

    When Paul decided to leave Corinth and visit other places, Priscilla and Aquila accompanied him as far as Ephesus. Paul left Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus to lead the church work there. They taught the believers the way of the Lord. One of their most notable disciples was Apollos, who came to Ephesus from Alexandria. Apollos was a skilled teacher but Priscilla and Aquila taught him more accurately in the Way and Apollos became a great leader of the church. Paul returned to Ephesus when the church continued to grow. During this time Paul’s life was in danger and Priscilla and Aquila risked their lives to protect him.

    After several years at Ephesus Priscilla and Aquila went back to Rome. Their training of the leaders had made them very influential in the Gentile churches. Some time later they returned to Ephesus where they assisted Timothy in the church there.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you, Don!

      I really like the way you put this together. You tell the story well and stick with the scripture without trying to embellish the story with extra material.

      Would you consider letting me add it to my website with the Priscilla and Aquilla lesson? I will reference your name but it would become part of my free material. I’m really committed to keeping this a free resource so I can understand if you have other ways you would rather use your story.

      Either way, thanks for sharing this in the comment section!

      God Bless,

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