Priscilla – The Leader?

Luke continues telling the stories of women serving in the Kingdom throughout his second volume, which we call “Acts.” Today we’ll begin with Priscilla. Paul first meets Aquila and Priscilla, fellow tentmakers, in Corinth after they had been ordered to leave Rome by Emperor Claudius (Acts 18:2-3). Later on these two were missionaries traveling with Paul to Syria, staying for a time in Ephesus, and later returning to Rome (Acts 18:18-19, 2 Tim. 4:19, Rom.16:3).

Of all the times that these two co-workers of Paul are mentioned (seven times total), two of these times Aquila is mentioned first: When Paul meets Aquila, and then Priscilla, and when Paul sends greetings to the church in Corinth on their behalf. The other five times this ministry team is mentioned it is the female, Priscilla, who is mentioned first.

What does this tell us about Priscilla? She played a very active role in these events, likely the lead role. When we tell stories we tend to include the key player in the discussion first. We say “Tom Brady and the Patriots,” not “Jarrett Stidham and the Patriots.” Stidham is one of the backup quarterbacks. Does he play a role in the organization? Of course. Is he the key player? Not usually. Luke does this in other places as well. At the beginning of his relationship with Barnabas, Luke refers to the two as “Barnabas and Saul/Paul” (Acts 11-13). But after chapter 13, Paul becomes the main player, except for occasionally like Acts 14:14, and 15:12. When Paul is the main player, he is mentioned first. When Barnabas is the main player, he is mentioned first.

Priscilla is mentioned as the main player five of the seven times she is mentioned with Aquila. This includes the teaching of Apollos (Acts 18:26), the missionary work in Ephesus (Acts 18:19, 2 Tim. 4:19), and on three other occasions. Saying Priscilla helped her husband is inadequate. They are both called co-workers with Paul (Rom. 16:3), and Priscilla is mentioned first 71% of the time.

There are some who teach women are not allowed to minister in this way, yet time and time again Scripture shows them doing so. And they are never rebuked or criticized for doing so! Luke mentions numerous other women prophesying on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14-15, 2:1, 4, 17-18), or Mary, who had a sizable church meeting in her home (Acts 12:12), Lydia, who also hosted a church (Acts 16:40), or Philip’s four daughters, who were prophets (Acts 21:8)?

Many have tried to take two verses from Paul’s writings out of context and use them to silence women in the Kingdom. The problem is the rest of Scripture, and even Paul’s own writings and ministry, show them doing the very things they are supposedly not allowed to do. So do we allow tradition to shape our understanding of what women may or may not do in the Kingdom, or will we allow the examples set forth in Scripture to set those guidelines?

Next week we’ll look at Paul’s conclusion to the Romans, and look at a few of the women he mentions there, as well as their roles in the Kingdom.

Daily Psalms – Psalm 45

Daily Psalm Reading – Psalm 41-45

Today’s psalm reading concludes Book 1 of Psalms (Pss. 1-41) and begins Book 2 (Pss. 42-72). This Book begins by reflecting on hope for the future, and a return to the Temple in Zion. There is also a great deal of Messianic hope in these psalms, which is most obvious in Psalm 45.

Psalm 45 was originally a secular psalm written for a royal wedding between the king of Israel and what is almost certainly a foreign wife (v. 10-12). A flat reading of the text can see the secular roots and leave someone to wonder why a psalm praising an earthly king and his wife are included in the psalter. The reason lies in how it was read and interpreted later.

After the fall of the monarchy in Israel, this psalm came to be understood as a foreshadow of they type of ruler the Messiah would be. This can be clearly seen in Scripture because when the Hebrew writer wants to tell his readers about Jesus, he does so by quoting Psalm 45:6-7. So instead of reading this psalm by focusing on its secular roots, let us look at it the way the Jews, and early Christians read it – as a reflection on the Messiah, whom we believe is Jesus.

Anointing (lit. messiah) language is present in several places in the text. This begins with the lips (understood words) that are anointed with grace (v. 2). The anointed one is clothed in splendor and majesty, and is mighty with a sword (see Rev. 19:11-16). The anointed one will seek truth, humility and justice, just like Yahweh wants his people to do. (Mic. 6:8) The nations will be placed below his feet. (Lk. 20:41-44) He is fragrant with myrrh, aloes and cassia. (Jn. 19:39)

We understand the Messianic references, but I want us to see how we, followers of Jesus, are viewed in the psalm. We are the royal bride adorned in gold (v. 9). We are called to forsake any other earthly relationship for our Anointed King (v. 10). Our king finds us beautiful, worthy of gifts and favor (v. 11-12). We are adorned with the finest robes and led joyfully into the King’s presence (v. 13-15).

Did you realize that Jesus views you this way? That you are not some stray dog he had mercy on. You are his chosen bride! (Eph 5:22-33, 2 Cor. 11:2, Rev. 19:6-9) No matter your faults, no matter your failures, seek him because he loves you and has chosen you! Even when you were still a mess, he chose you! (Rom. 5:8)

Today, walk with King Jesus and keep your head held high, because you are his chosen one! Tell your story today because all are invited to the wedding banquet of our King.

I will perpetuate your memory through all generations;
therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.

Psalm 45:17 NIV