XXak-wi-la (Akulas), "an eagle"): Aquila and his wife Priscilla, the diminutive form of Prisca, are introduced into the narrative of the Acts by their relation to Paul. He meets them first in Corinth (Acts 18:2). Aquila was a native of Pontus, doubtless one of the colony of Jews mentioned in Acts 2:9; 1 Pet 1:1. They were refugees from the cruel and unjust edict of Claudius which expelled all Jews from Rome in 52 AD. The decree, it is said by Suetonius, was issued on account of tumults raised by the Jews, and he especially mentions one Chrestus (Suetonius Claud. 25). Since the word Christus could easily be confounded by him to refer to some individual whose name was Chrestus and who was an agitator, resulting in these disorders, it has been concluded that the fanatical Jews were then persecuting their Christian brethren and disturbances resulted. The cause of the trouble did not concern Claudius, and so without making inquiry, all Jews were expelled. The conjecture that Aquila was a freedman and that his master had been Aquila Pontius, the Roman senator, and that from him he received his name is without foundation. He doubtless had a Hebrew name, but it is not known. It was a common custom for Jews outside of Israel to take Roman names, and it is just that this man does, and it is by that name we know him. Driven from Rome, Aquila sought refuge in Corinth, where Paul, on his second missionary journey, meets him because they have the same trade: that of making tents of Cilician cloth (Acts 18:3). The account given of him does not justify the conclusion that he and his wife were already Christians when Paul met them. Had that been the case Lk would almost certainly have said so, especially if it was true that Paul sought them out on that account. Judging from their well-known activity in Christian work they would have gathered a little band of inquirers or possibly converts, even though they had been there for but a short time. It is more in harmony with the account to conclude that Paul met them as fellow-tradespeople, and that he took the opportunity of preaching Christ to them as they toiled. There can be no doubt that Paul would use these days to lead them into the kingdom and instruct them therein, so that afterward they would be capable of being teachers themselves (Acts 18:26). Not only did they become Christians, but they also became fast and devoted friends of Paul, and he fully reciprocated their affection for him (Rom 16:3,4). They accompanied him when he left Corinth to go to Ephesus and remained there while he went on his journey into Syria. When he ,wrote the first letter to the church at Corinth they were still at Ephesus, and their house there was used as a Christian assembly-place (1 Cor 16:19). The decree of Claudius excluded the Jews from Rome only temporarily, and so afterward Paul is found there, and his need of friends and their affection for him doubtless led them also to go to that city (Rom 16:3). At the time of the writing of Pauls second letter to Tim they have again removed to Ephesus, possibly sent there by Paul to give aid to, and further the work in that city (2 Tim 4:19). While nothing more is known of them there can be no doubt that they remained the devoted friends of Paul to the end.
The fact that Priscillas name is mentioned several times before that of her husband has called forth a number of conjectures. The best explanation seems to be that she was the stronger character.
Jacob W. Kapp