God’s Word for You
Colossians 4:9-11 A comfort to me
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, November 23, 2019
9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here. 10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, along with Mark the cousin of Barnabas. You have received instructions about him: If he comes to you, welcome him. 11 Jesus who is called Justus also greets you. These are circumcised Jews, the only ones among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God. They have proved to be a comfort to me.
Here Paul lists four more Jews who were helping him in Rome (a fifth was Tychicus, verses 7-8).
Onesimus was the runaway slave Paul wrote about in his letter to Philemon, a letter which probably accompanied this one to Colosse. Paul calls him a “beloved brother” in both letters (cp. Philemon 16, NIV “dear brother”). By saying that Onesimus is “one of you,” he means more than a resident of Colosse. He means that Onesimus is a brother in Christ, a member of their fellowship. He is the one who, along with Tychicus, would give the report about how things were going with Paul’s imprisonment.
Aristarchus is the only man in this list who is also a “fellow prisoner.” Aristarchus was a Thessalonian who accompanied Paul to Ephesus (Acts 19:29). He was with Paul and Luke when they were in the hurricane in Acts 27 and were shipwrecked on Malta. Now Aristarchus was imprisoned with Paul in Rome because of his faith in Christ.
Mark was the cousin of Barnabas. He is the likeliest candidate to be the young man who fled naked when the Lord was arrested in Gethsemane. The reason for this ‘candidacy’ is that the incident, inconsequential as it is, was only recorded in one Gospel: the one Mark himself wrote (Mark 14:52). There is really no reason to have included the incident except that it was the only contact the young man had (whether Mark or not) with the Savior during his earthly ministry. Mark’s mother Mary owned the house in Jerusalem where the disciples often gathered (Acts 12:12). They had a servant girl named Rhoda (Acts 12:13). Theirs might possibly have even been the house with the upper room used by Jesus for the institution of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday. Mark’s actions in Pamphylia caused Paul to temporarily have a falling out with Barnabas, but this was later mended (this letter was written about twelve years later). Paul wrote to Timothy: “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).
Jesus Justus does not otherwise appear in the Scriptures. But his name means “the Lord saves; justified.” His remarkable name reminds us both of our Savior and our Savior’s actions on our behalf. Through Christ, we are justified, which means declared not guilty of our sins.
Paul was comforted by these men, men who shared a common bond of faith in Jesus Christ. This is the bond of fellowship we share with everyone who confesses faith in Christ. Many of us have friends and acquaintances, even family members, who do not share our faith. While it is undeniable that their friendship has a place in our lives, the comfort we receive from our Christian friends is entirely different. It is based on the certainty of life in heaven, on the common knowledge that “the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Cultivate your relationships with Christian friends. Their faith will build up your faith, and you may be surprised at how much your faith will in turn build up theirs.
Pastor Timothy Smith