Aristarchus my fellow prisoner - Concerning Aristarchus, see Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2; and see the note on Acts 27:2. Aristarchus and Epaphras are mentioned as saluters in this epistle, and in that to Philemon written at the same time; but here he is said to be a prisoner, and Epaphras not. In that to Philemon, Epaphras is called a prisoner, and Aristarchus not. One of them is wrong, though it is uncertain which; unless both were prisoners. See Wall's Crit. Notes. As Aristarchus had been a zealous and affectionate adherent to St. Paul, and followed him in all his journeys, ministering to him in prison, and assisting him in preaching the Gospel in Rome, he might have been imprisoned on this account. We need not suppose that both he and Epaphras were imprisoned at the same time; about the same time they might be imprisoned, but it might be so ordered by the providence of God that when Aristarchus was imprisoned Epaphras was at liberty, and while Epaphras was in prison Aristarchus was at liberty. This is a very possible and easily to be conceived case.
Marcus - See the account of this person, Acts 15:39. Though there had been some difference between the apostle and this Mark, yet from this, and 2 Timothy 4:11, we find that they were fully reconciled, and that Mark was very useful to St. Paul in the work of the ministry.
Touching whom ye received commandments - What these were we cannot tell; it was some private communication which had been previously sent to the Colossian Church.
Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner - Aristarchus was of Thessalonica, and is mentioned in Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4, as Paul‘s companion in his travels. In Acts 27:2, it is said that he accompanied him in his voyage to Rome, and from the passage before us it appears that he was there imprisoned with him. As he held the same sentiments as Paul, and was united with him in his travels and labors, it was natural that he should be treated in the same manner. He, together with Gaius, had been seized in the tumult at Ephesus and treated with violence, but he adhered to the apostle in all his troubles, and attended him all his perils. Nothing further is certainly known of him, though “the Greeks say that he was bishop of Assamea in Syria, and was beheaded with Paul at Rome, under Nero” - Calmet.
And Marcus, sister‘s son to Barnabas - John Mark, in relation to whom Paul and Barnabas had formerly disagreed so much as to cause a separation between Barnabas and Paul. The ground of the disagreement was, that Barnabas wished to take him, probably on account of relationship, with them in their travels; Paul was unwilling to take him, because he had, on one occasion, departed from them; Notes, Acts 15:37-39. They afterward became reconciled, and Paul mentions Mark here with affection. He sent for him when he sent Tychicus to Ephesus, and it seems that he had come to him in obedience to his request; 2 Timothy 4:11. Mark had probably become more decided, and Paul did not harbor unkind and unforgiving feelings toward anyone.
Touching whom ye received commandments - What these directions were, and how they were communicated, whether verbally or by writing, is now unknown. It was, not improbably, on some occasion when Paul was with them. He refers to it here in order that they might know distinctly whom he meant.
If he come to you, receive him - In Philemon 1:24, Mark is mentioned as a” fellow-laborer” of Paul. It would seem probable, therefore, that he was not a prisoner. Paul here intimates that he was about to leave Rome, and he enjoins it on the Colossians to receive him kindly. This injunction may have been necessary, as the Colossians may have been aware of the breach between him and Paul, and may have been disposed to regard him with suspicion. Paul retained no malice, and now commended, in the warmest manner, one from whom he was formerly constrained to separate.
This desertion caused Paul to judge Mark unfavorably, and even severely, for a time. Barnabas, on the other hand, was inclined to excuse him because of his inexperience. He felt anxious that Mark should not abandon the ministry, for he saw in him qualifications that would fit him to be a useful worker for Christ. In after years his solicitude in Mark's behalf was richly rewarded, for the young man gave himself unreservedly to the Lord and to the work of proclaiming the gospel message in difficult fields. Under the blessing of God, and the wise training of Barnabas, he developed into a valuable worker. AA 170.1
Paul was afterward reconciled to Mark and received him as a fellow laborer. He also recommended him to the Colossians as one who was a fellow worker “unto the kingdom of God,” and “a comfort unto me.” Colossians 4:11. Again, not long before his own death, he spoke of Mark as “profitable” to him “for the ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11. AA 170.2
After the departure of Mark, Paul and Barnabas visited Antioch in Pisidia and on the Sabbath day went into the Jewish synagogue and sat down. “After the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” Being thus invited to speak, “Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.” Then followed a wonderful discourse. He proceeded to give a history of the manner in which the Lord had dealt with the Jews from the time of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and how a Saviour had been promised, of the seed of David, and he boldly declared that “of this man's seed hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: when John had first preached before His coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not He. But, behold, there cometh One after me, whose shoes of His feet I am not worthy to loose.” Thus with power he preached Jesus as the Saviour of men, the Messiah of prophecy. AA 170.3Read in context »
The voyage began prosperously. The following day they cast anchor in the harbor of Sidon. Here Julius, the centurion, “courteously entreated Paul,” and being informed that there were Christians in the place, “gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.” This permission was greatly appreciated by the apostle, who was in feeble health. AA 440.1
Upon leaving Sidon, the ship encountered contrary winds; and being driven from a direct course, its progress was slow. At Myra, in the province of Lycia, the centurion found a large Alexandrian ship, bound for the coast of Italy, and to this he immediately transferred his prisoners. But the winds were still contrary, and the ship's progress was difficult. Luke writes, “When we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; and, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called the Fair Havens.” AA 440.2
At Fair Havens they were compelled to remain for some time, waiting for favoring winds. Winter was approaching rapidly; “sailing was now dangerous;” and those in charge of the vessel had to give up hope of reaching their destination before the season for travel by sea should be closed for the year. The only question now to be decided was, whether to remain at Fair Havens, or attempt to reach a more favorable place in which to winter. AA 440.3Read in context »
Thus, while apparently cut off from active labor, Paul exerted a wider and more lasting influence than if he had been free to travel among the churches as in former years. As a prisoner of the Lord, he had a firmer hold upon the affections of his brethren; and his words, written by one under bonds for the sake of Christ, commanded greater attention and respect than they did when he was personally with them. Not until Paul was removed from them, did the believers realize how heavy were the burdens he had borne in their behalf. Heretofore they had largely excused themselves from responsibility and burden bearing because they lacked his wisdom, tact, and indomitable energy; but now, left in their inexperience to learn the lessons they had shunned, they prized his warnings, counsels, and instructions as they had not prized his personal work. And as they learned of his courage and faith during his long imprisonment they were stimulated to greater fidelity and zeal in the cause of Christ. AA 454.1
Among Paul's assistants at Rome were many of his former companions and fellow workers. Luke, “the beloved physician,” who had attended him on the journey to Jerusalem, through the two years’ imprisonment at Caesarea, and upon his perilous voyage to Rome, was with him still. Timothy also ministered to his comfort. Tychicus, “a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord,” stood nobly by the apostle. Demas and Mark were also with him. Aristarchus and Epaphras were his “fellow prisoners.” Colossians 4:7-14. AA 454.2
Since the earlier years of his profession of faith, Mark's Christian experience had deepened. As he had studied more closely the life and death of Christ he had obtained clearer views of the Saviour's mission, its toils and conflicts. Reading in the scars in Christ's hands and feet the marks of His service for humanity, and the length to which self-abnegation leads to save the lost and perishing, Mark had become willing to follow the Master in the path of self-sacrifice. Now, sharing the lot of Paul the prisoner, he understood better than ever before that it is infinite gain to win Christ, infinite loss to win the world and lose the soul for whose redemption the blood of Christ was shed. In the face of severe trial and adversity, Mark continued steadfast, a wise and beloved helper of the apostle. AA 455.1Read in context »