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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Does the Bible Really Say That? Excerpt from my book, 10

[Continuing the topic of family headship, as shown in the Bible.]

Priscilla and other New Testament women

There are only two examples of New Testament married couples, whose life together is described at all. One of these is Mary and Joseph, but there’s not much about their interaction together. God did reveal some things to Joseph, namely that he should not reject Mary (Matthew 1:19-24), that they should go to Egypt (Matthew 2:13), and that they should return (Matthew 2:19-23), and he acted on those promptings, and was spiritual leader in those cases. Mary may have been the spiritual leader when she reprimanded Jesus:

Luke 2:43b the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. Joseph and his mother didn’t know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the company, they went a day’s journey, and they looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they didn’t find him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the middle of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. 47 All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When they saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us this way? Behold, your father and I were anxiously looking for you.”

But perhaps she was just more vocal.

Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned seven times in the Bible, always as a couple. Here are most of those, from Acts 18:

1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth. 2 He found a certain Jew named Aquila, a man of Pontus by race, who had recently come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. He came to them, 3 and because he practiced the same trade, he lived with them and worked, for by trade they were tent makers.
11 He lived there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. . . .
18a Paul, having stayed after this many more days, took his leave of the brothers, [text note – may be translated “brothers and sisters”] and sailed from there for Syria, together with Priscilla and Aquila. He shaved his head in Cenchreae, for he had a vow. 19 He came to Ephesus, and he left them there; but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus. He was mighty in the Scriptures. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak 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.

Verse 19 uses “Priscilla and Aquila,” rather than “them” in some versions. There are three other references, in Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19, and 2 Timothy 4:19, all of them greetings to the couple. 1 Corinthians 16:19 does not mention the couple by name in all translations.

If there is significance to the order given, the order puts Priscilla first more often that her husband, in all of the versions that I have checked. Perhaps the most critical verse is Acts 18:26. That is usually, but not always, translated so that Priscilla is named first, indicating that she may have been more important in instructing Apollos spiritually than Aquila was.

Another bit of evidence about spiritual headship in Acts is the matter of Lydia.

Acts 16: 13 On the Sabbath day we went outside of the city by a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down, and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one who worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to listen to the things which were spoken by Paul. 15 When she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and stay.” So she persuaded us.

Lydia was a businesswoman. Acts 16 reads as if she gave spiritual (and probably other) leadership to her household. However, this case may not be relevant, as there is no mention of a husband. She may have been single, widowed, or perhaps divorced. We don’t know. But at least she did exercise some spiritual leadership. Dorcas is also a woman who showed some spiritual leadership, but there is no mention of a household or a husband. (Acts 9.)

In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul refers to Timothy’s mother and grandmother, as having been spiritual influences on Timothy. But it is not clear what their marital status was, or if Timothy’s father was a believer.

The above is an excerpt from my recently published e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, public domain.

The previous post in this series is here. The next post, God willing, will consider the same topic.

Thanks for reading!

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