underrated cool chicks of the bible #2
underrated biblical women - an intro
We open our Bibles (maybe) and sit in church (probably) and along with all of the faith, hope, and love that it all holds cover to cover, there is another thing that is common: men.
There are a lot of dudes in the Bible, if you haven't noticed. (I like guys, I married one.) And while it's still cool to hear about throwing rocks and dens of lions and maritime excursions -- there are so many women in scripture that are overlooked or underrated.
Some people could write off the Bible as sexist for it's male "bias" -- but for the historical context that it is written in, we should find it amazing that there are as many women as there are in the pages of scripture. For example, Phoebe was a women who Paul trusted to deliver the letter to the Romans, and in that time, that was unheard of. The fact that this was documented is evidence for scripture and it's validity. Women were not commonly ordained in this way at the time.
But none of this invalidates the feeling some of us gals may have when listening to a sermon on Gideon or Daniel or even Paul -- sure, there are things I could get from this and apply, but I'm having trouble completely relating to a story about a man. This feeling is a valid feeling -- you may not have thought about it before.
So here we are, part 2, of the coolest underrated women of the Bible, because God has given us amazing stories of women with strength, pain, and emotions just as we do. We can allow these women to be our mentors. We can look to their example -- where they got it right, where they didn't, where they hurt in the same places we hurt, and in the times they were strong in the same way we need to be.
(prisca - formal name)
all of the places she is mentioned in scripture:
2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, 3 and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers.
18 Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; 26 and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; 5 also greet the church that is in their house.
1 Corinthians 16:19
Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
2 Timothy 4:19
19 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
What do we know about Priscilla?
She had a great marriage.
Priscilla and Aquilla. That is how their names are listed in most of the documentation that we have of the couple in scripture. Always stated together, never apart. Aquilla is never listed without her, which I find really cool. Most of the time, Priscilla's name is listed first, which is unusual compared to other couples in scripture. Theologians have debated on why this is -- a few theories that have been thrown around are that Priscilla was more animated and social than Aquilla was, or possibly that Priscilla was of nobler birth or higher social standing. There is another theory that Priscilla became a believer before Aquilla, and that is why her name is listed first. Either way, to list her name first (in the time it was written) is a big deal. I find the symbolism of their names always being listed together to be a beautiful image of their marital oneness.
She was hard-working.
Priscilla and her husband "...by trade they were tent-makers." (acts 18:3) They worked together in the same secular profession as they had their own business. To be held in equal standing in professional trade with her husband leads me to believe that she was skilled in her position. In Acts, a man came to stay with them as they continued working. They worked hard at their profession together. By the description of their tent-making, it is safe to assume Priscilla did her part within the trade.
She was friends with Paul.
Paul heard about Priscilla and Aquilla and sought them out. They welcomed Paul into their home. They offered him work and shelter as they became good friends. Afterwards, they travel with him. Paul, as in writer of most of our New Testament, Paul.
Paul in Romans describes them as, "my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks..." We don't know what specifically he is referring to, but we know for at least one moment, Priscilla and Aquilla both risked their lives for Paul.
The letter named 2 Timothy is written close to the end of Paul's life, this request to greet Priscilla and Aquilla seems like Paul's last goodbye to them.
She served the church.
Priscilla is one of the people credited for co-founding the church. They were so successful with their journey with Paul that they decided to begin a church in their own home. Wow. They grew as leaders and became respected in the community. In the part of Romans where Paul gives Priscilla and Aquilla a shout out, one-third of the mentions are women, showing the importance of women leadership in the church of that time in Rome.
"the church that is in their house" -- what a powerful phrase. Shouldn't we wish that on our homes, our marriages, our lives?
She was very intelligent.
I use this point because of the story in Acts 18 (full passage above). When a young teacher needs to be corrected, Priscilla and Aquilla take "him aside and explain to him the way of God more accurately." Many sources describe this situation as Priscilla doing most of the speaking, which I think is a fun detail to picture. Regardless, it is listed that they taught together. The narrative also suggests that they were respected enough for their insight to be listened to seriously. She had a knowledge of the Gospel that she was passionate to share and knew scripture well enough to give accurate criticism to another intelligent teacher.
It was not a secret that Priscilla was intelligent.
What can we learn from Priscilla?
Her gender was not a hindrance to her position. From what we know, she did not go around yelling that she was a woman. And by these pieces of scripture that we have, nothing suggests that she was put down from being in an authority position because she was a woman. She was held in high regard, side-by-side with her partner and husband. I don't believe anyone just handed her the respect that she had. I see from scripture that she worked just as hard to be at the level she was in her community.
I find it so encouraging to see women like this in scripture: hard-working and respected women that opened their homes, taught the Gospel, and loved well.