Scripture Reference: Acts 18:1-28
Suggested Emphasis: We should teach about Jesus and be good examples no matter what kind of job we have.
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.
The 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!
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?
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
Additional Visual Aids for this Story:
- Paul Meets Priscilla and Aquila_Slide Show to download
(.pptx 11 MB file size)
- Paul Meets Priscilla and Aquila_Slideshow to download_older format
(.ppt 10.2 MB file size)
- Paul Meets Priscilla and Aquila_Visual Aid to download and print
(.pdf 3.49 MB file size)
- What was Paul’s job? Tent maker
- Who were the husband and wife who were tentmakers? Aquila and Priscilla
- In Corinth, Paul made tents during the week and preached in the synagogues when? Each Sabbath-Saturday
- 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.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Make a “tent” out of sheets and blankets and let all of the children get inside when you tell the story today.
- Sing: This Little Light of Mine or I Can Be a Missionary
- List as many careers as possible. Let children describe how they can do each of these jobs in a way that pleases God. Guide them in thinking of ways they could share about Jesus while they are doing that job. Example: Doctor- treat patients kindly, give free service to poor people, tell other doctors about Jesus. Scientist- help show ways that God created the earth .
- Older children can write newspaper ads for jobs- listing Christian qualifications along with other job qualifications.
- Find out more about tent making in New Testament times and share the findings with the class
- If the weather is right and you are ambitious—plan a camping trip with families and children.
- Invite some parents or people in the church to come and tell the children about the jobs they do and opportunities they have to tell people about Jesus.
- Make a collage showing different careers
- Make a relief map of Paul’s Journies featuring the place in today’s story. If you are studying about Paul’s journies over a few lessons then you could add more details to the map each time you learn about another stop on the journey. Instructions on how to make a relief map at http://www.squidoo.com/salt-dough-maps
- If you are teaching a series of lessons about Paul then you might draw an outline of him on a large poster or paper and then add descriptive words about him each time you study a new lesson (printable picture here). Alternatively, you might draw a new outline shape of him each week on a whiteboard or even with a stick in the sand (if you are outside) and guide children in adding descriptive words or events inside the outlined shape as a review. Lessons from the life of Paul are:
- Saul (Paul) Becomes a Christian
- The Antioch Church
- Paul’s 1st Journey- Lystra
- Paul’s 2nd Journey-Macedonian Vision
- Lydia Becomes a Christian
- A Jailer Becomes a Christian
- The Noble Bereans
- Paul Preaches in Athens-Mars Hill
- Priscilla and Aquila
- Paul’s 3rd Journey- Ephesus
- Eutychus Falls from a Window
- Paul Goes to Jerusalem
- Paul’s Nephew Uncovers a Plot
- Paul’s Trial
- Paul’s Shipwreck
- Paul Writes Letters from Prison
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- A good selection of puzzles and games to print (gardenofpraise.com)
- (More about when Paul first met Priscilla aquila in Corinth): A good selection of puzzles and games (gardenofpraise.com)
- How to make a play tent (ehow.com)
- Craft: Mini tent with popsicle (ice-block) sticks (familycorner.com)
- Lesson plan and activities (sundayschoolsources.com)
- Review: Create a “passport” that covers the life of Paul. Good visual ideas and activities. Could be split up to go with several lessons or taught all together as a review of previous lessons concerning Paul (kidsbibledebjackson.blogspot.co.nz)
- Make a Tent: Great ideas on how to make simple tents to talk about Paul, Priscilla and Aquila being tent makers. All kids love tents and they could be made from any spare material (kidsbibledebjackson.blogspot.co.nz)