Priscilla was a Jewish woman who lived in Rome. Her husband’s name was Aquila. She was a prominent woman in the early church .
Whether she was native to the city is not known—her husband was originally from the distant region of Pontus, located on the southern Black Sea, in present-day Turkey. Sometime around AD 50, Emperor Claudius expelled all of Rome’s Jewish residents. The reason for the order, according to the Roman historian Suetonius, was an ongoing disturbance regarding someone named Chrestus—in all likelihood a misspelled reference to Christ.
Priscilla and Aquila grew to be two of Paul’s strongest allies in his ministry. Together they journeyed across the Aegean Sea to Ephesus. While Paul continued on from there, Priscilla and Aquila stayed behind. By this time they were so deeply rooted in the Christian faith that they were able to instruct another powerful teacher named Apollos, who had also come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
Touched by their friendship, Paul mentioned Priscilla and Aquila in three of his letters. His greeting to them at the end of Romans suggests they were able to return to their home city at some point. However, by the time Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy—perhaps his final letter —the pair seemed to have taken up residence in Ephesus once again.
Priscilla is mentioned first in five out of the Bible’s seven references to the famous couple. Scholars debate the precise significance, though it is generally noted that the order of names was important. Priscilla may have had a more forceful personality, she may have been of a higher social rank than her husband, or she may have played a more prominent role in the early church.