2 Timothy 4:11
Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with you: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
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(11) Only Luke is with me.—The “writer” of the Third Gospel, the Gospel which, as has been stated above, was very possibly the work of St. Paul—“my Gospel.” Luke, “the beloved physician” of Colossians 4:14, of all St. Paul’s companions, seems to have been most closely associated with the Apostle. Most likely this close intimacy and long-continued association was owing to the Apostle’s weak and infirm health—to that dying body—the noble Paul ever bore about with him. Luke was with St. Paul, we know, in his second missionary journey, and again in his third missionary journey; he accompanied him to Asia, and then to Jerusalem; was with him during the captivity time of Cæsarea, and subsequently of Rome, the first time St. Paul was imprisoned in the capital (Acts 18). After St. Paul’s death, Epiphanius speaks of him as preaching chiefly in Gaul; a very general tradition includes him among the martyrs of the first age of the Church. The name is probably a contraction of Lucanus. (See Introduction to the Acts of the Apostles.)

Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.—“But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them . . . and went not with them to the work” (Acts 15:38). There is something strangely touching in this message of the aged master to Timothy to bring with him on that last solemn journey one whom, some quarter of a century before, St. Paul had judged so severely, and on whose account he had separated from his old loved friend, Barnabas the Apostle. Since that hour when the young missionary’s heart had failed him in Pamphylia, Mark had, by steady, earnest work, won back his place in St. Paul’s heart. Barnabas, we know, when his brother Apostle rejected him, took him with him to Cyprus. After some twelve years, we find him, during the first imprisonment, with St. Paul at Rome (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24). He is mentioned (1Peter 5:13) by the endearing term of “my son,” and the unanimous traditions of the ancient Christian writers represent him as the secretary or amanuensis of St. Peter. It was his office to commit to writing the orally delivered instructions and narrations of his master. These, in some revised and arranged form, probably under the direction of Peter himself, were given to the Church under the title of St. Mark’s Gospel. A later and uncertain tradition says he subsequently became first Bishop of Alexandria, and there suffered martyrdom.

For he is profitable to me for the ministry.—Profitable, according to the suggestion of Grotius, owing to Mark’s knowledge of the Latin tongue. This is possible; but it is more likely that he was profitable or serviceable as an assistant who was well acquainted with the details of St. Paul’s many sided work.

4:9-13 The love of this world, is often the cause of turning back from the truths and ways of Jesus Christ. Paul was guided by Divine inspiration, yet he would have his books. As long as we live, we must still learn. The apostles did not neglect human means, in seeking the necessaries of life, or their own instruction. Let us thank the Divine goodness in having given us so many writings of wise and pious men in all ages; and let us seek that by reading them our profiting may appear to all.Only Luke is with me - Luke, the author of the gospel which bears his name, and of the Acts of the Apostles. For a considerable part of the ministry of Paul, he was his traveling companion (compare the notes on Acts 16:10), and we know that he went with him to Rome; Acts 27:1.

Take Mark - John Mark, see the notes at Acts 15:37. He was the son of a sister of Barnabas, and had been the traveling companion of Barnabas and Paul. There had been a temporary alienation between Paul and him Acts 15:38; but this passage proves that that had been removed, and that Paul was reconciled to him.

For he is profitable to me for the ministry - In what way he would be profitable, he does not say; nor is it known why Mark was at that time with Timothy. It may be observed, however, that this is such language as Paul might be expected to use of Mark, after what had occurred, as recorded in Acts 15:38. He felt that he was now about to die. If he suspected that there was on the part of Mark any lingering apprehension that the great apostle was not entirely reconciled to him, or retained a recollection of what had formerly occurred, nothing would be more natural than that, at this trying time of his life, Paul should summon him to his side, and express toward him the kindest emotions. It would soothe any lingering irritation in the mind of Mark, to receive such a message.

11. Take—Greek, "take up" on thy journey (Ac 20:13, 14). John Mark was probably in, or near, Colosse, as in the Epistle to the Colossians (Col 4:10), written two years before this, he is mentioned as about to visit them. Timothy was now absent from Ephesus and somewhere in the interior of Asia Minor; hence he would be sure to fall in with Mark on his journey.

he is profitable to me for the ministry—Mark had been under a cloud for having forsaken Paul at a critical moment in his missionary tour with Barnabas (Ac 15:37-40; 13:5, 13). Timothy had subsequently occupied the same post in relation to Paul as Mark once held. Hence Paul, appropriately here, wipes out the past censure by high praise of Mark and guards against Timothy's making self-complacent comparisons between himself and Mark, as though he were superior to the latter (compare Phm 24). Demas apostatizes. Mark returns to the right way, and is no longer unprofitable, but is profitable for the Gospel ministry (Phm 11).

Only Luke is with me; of whom we also read Colossians 4:14. He was a physician, Paul’s fellow labourer, Philemon 1:24.

Take Mark, and bring him with thee; of Mark we read Acts 12:12 15:37. He was kinsman to Barnabas, Colossians 4:10. It appears by that text that he was at Rome with Paul, and his fellow labourer, Philemon 1:24, For he is prifitable to me for the ministry; the ministry of the gospel. Paul’s care was more for that, than for a ministering to himself, though he was a prisioner. Only Luke is with me,.... The beloved physician, who wrote the Gospel that bears his name, and "the Acts of the Apostles", and was a constant companion of Paul's in his travels and sufferings:

take Mark, and bring him with thee; who might be at Ephesus, or somewhere in Timothy's way as he came to Rome. This seems to be the same with John Mark of Jerusalem, the son of Mary, the sister of Barnabas, and who was with Paul and Barnabas in their travels, and who parted from them at Pamphylia; on whose account, and for that reason, there was so great a difference between Paul and Barnabas, as to separate upon it; but now the apostle had entertained a better opinion of him, and was reconciled unto him, and was very desirous of his company and assistance; and which he had, Colossians 4:10.

For he is profitable to me for the ministry; that is, of the Gospel, to assist in preaching it.

Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
2 Timothy 4:11. Λουκᾶς ἐστὶ μόνος μετʼ ἐμοῦ] There is no reason for doubting that this Luke was the apostle’s well-known assistant. He accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey from Troas, Acts 16:10, then on his third journey, Acts 20:5 to Acts 21:18. He was with Paul both in his imprisonment at Caesarea and in the first imprisonment at Rome, Acts 27; Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24.

Μάρκον ἀναλαβὼν ἄγαγε (or common reading: ἄγε) μετὰ σεαυτοῦ] Mark, too, is the young apostle with whom we are acquainted from the Book of Acts. According to Colossians 4:10, Philemon 1:13, he was likewise with Paul in his first Roman imprisonment; ἀναλαβών, see Acts 20:14. It is not known where Mark was at this time. The reason why Paul wished to have him is given in the words: ἔστι γάρ μοι εὔχρηστος εἰς διακονίαν] εὔχρηστος, 2 Timothy 2:21. Διακονία here is to be understood of the apostolic office[67] (according to Wiesinger: “of Mark’s personal services, but certainly in the apostle’s vocation”).

[67] What Otto (pp. 257 ff.) on this passage adduces regarding the relation of Mark to Paul are groundless suppositions. It is a purely arbitrary assumption that Mark, after abstaining for some time from work among the heathen, had again offered his services to Paul through Timothy. And it is equally an assumption to say, that from the words εὔχρηστος κ.τ.λ. it would appear that Mark could not have hitherto given Paul his services, because in that case Paul would not have “censured him regarding his usefulness for the ministry” (!).2 Timothy 4:11. Λουκᾶς: Nothing can be more natural than that “the beloved physician” and historian should feel that he of all men was in his place beside St. Paul when the end was to nearly approaching. The μόνος is relative to fellow-labourers in the gospel. St. Paul had many friends in Rome (2 Timothy 4:21).

Μᾶρκον: St. Paul was now completely reconciled to John Mark who had, before Colossians 4:10 was written, vindicated and justified the risk Barnabas had run in giving him a chance of recovering his character (see Acts 13:13; Acts 15:38). ἀναλαβών: assume (Vulg.). Take up on your way. Assumere is also the Latin in Acts 20:14; Acts 23:31, but suscipere in Acts 20:13. It is implied that Mark was somewhere on the line of route between Ephesus and Rome; but we do not know the precise place.

ἄγε μετὰ σεαυτοῦ: This phrase is illustrated from the papyri by Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., 4:57.

εὔχρηστος εἰς διακονίαν: As Mark was the ἑρμηνευτής of St. Peter, rendering his Aramaic into Greek, so he may have helped St. Paul by a knowledge of Latin. διακονία, however, does not necessarily include preaching. It is characteristic of St. Paul that he should not regard “the ministry which he had received from the Lord Jesus” as “accomplished” so long as he had breath to “testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).11. Only Luke] Lucas is a contraction of Lucanus, which occurs frequently in inscriptions, and may indicate the position of a libertus or freedman: many such, we know, were the house physicians, the profession, as such, being in very little esteem. See Plaut. Menæchm. 2 Timothy 4:3-5, and cf. Bekker’s Gallus, p. 207. St Luke is distinguished from ‘they of the circumcision,’ Colossians 4:14, and so cannot be identified with Lucius St Paul’s ‘kinsman,’ Romans 16:21. He first appears as a companion of St Paul, Acts 16:1, at a time very nearly that of an attack of the Apostle’s constitutional malady or ‘thorn in the flesh,’ Galatians 4:13; and the words in Colossians 4:14 ‘the beloved physician’ seem to breathe a feeling of personal gratitude and obligation. St Luke travelled with the Apostle on his last journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21:1) and also, two years later from Jerusalem to Rome (Acts 27:2). The absence of his name from the greetings in Philippians may be due to his having then left Rome for a time; but he was again with him before the close of the two years, Colossians 4:14, Philemon 1:24; and is now at his side ‘alone’ in his last hours. See Introd. p. 44. After St Paul’s death, according to Epiphanius cont. Hær. li. 11, St Luke ‘preaches first in Dalmatia and Gallia; in Italy and Macedonia, but first in Gallia; as Paul himself says of some of his companions in his epistles “Crescens in Gallia,” for we are not to read “in Galatia” as some mistakenly think, but “in Gallia.” ’ Bithynia and Achaia are named as the place of his martyrdom somewhere between a.d. 75 and a.d. 100.

For a striking comparison drawn between St Luke and Demas see Keble’s Poem on St Luke’s Day (Christian Year):

‘Two converts, watching by his side,

Alike his love and greetings share;

Luke the beloved, the sick soul’s guide,

And Demas, named in faltering prayer.

Pass a few years—look in once more—

The Saint is in his bonds again;

Save that his hopes more boldly soar,

He and his lot unchanged remain.

But only Luke is with him now!—

Alas! that even the martyr’s cell,

Heaven’s very gate, should scope allow

For the false world’s seducing spell.’

Take Mark] A.V. varies between ‘Mark’ and ‘Marcus’ in the different passages where the name occurs. R.V. rightly throughout ‘Mark’ (Lightfoot, N. T. Rev., p. 157). ‘Marcus’ was the Latin surname for John (Johanan, the Grace of God) the son of Mary, who lived at Jerusalem, apparently with good means (Acts 12:12), and ‘cousin’ of Barnabas of Cyprus (Colossians 4:10). He and his mother must have been well known to St Peter, who went to her house straight from the prison; and the phrase ‘Mark my son’ 1 Peter 5:13 makes it probable that he was converted by that Apostle. Compare a similar phrase in 1 Timothy 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:18. He was ‘minister’ to Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey through Cyprus, but left them at Perga (Acts 13:5; Acts 13:13), possibly to escape the dangers of Asia Minor; and for this reason St Paul declined to have his help on the second journey (Acts 15:38) though at the cost of breaking with St Barnabas, who took St Mark again to Cyprus. A reconciliation must have taken place before we next hear of him, as he is reckoned by St Paul in the first imprisonment at Rome as one of his ‘fellow labourers unto the kingdom’ who have been ‘a comfort’ unto him, Colossians 4:10. After this he seems to have joined St Peter at ‘Babylon’ (1 Peter 5:13) whence he must have returned to Asia Minor, so that Timothy could now ‘take him up.’ After St Paul’s death he is said to have laboured in Egypt and to have died by martyrdom. His Gospel must have been written between a.d. 63 and a.d. 70; according to Irenæus, after the deaths of St Peter and St Paul; according to Jerome, ‘Peter relating and Mark writing.’ See Maclear’s Introduction to St Mark’s Gospel, pp. 14, 15, &c. As especially in keeping (by undesigned coincidence) with what we have seen above of St Mark’s own fall and restoration and his slow advance to settled power as a ‘fellow labourer unto the kingdom’ and ‘profitable to the ministry,’ we should observe (if it has not been noticed in this connexion before) what significance the two parables and the one miracle have which are recorded only by St Mark. They are the healing of the deaf and dumb man at Decapolis, with the five stages in his gradual cure (Mark 7:31), the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida, with the four successive stages (Mark 8:22), and the parable of the seed growing secretly and slowly, ‘first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear’ (Mark 4:26). Among the many lessons learnt from Christ, through St Peter, this laid hold of St Mark; it fitted his need, gave him good hope and heart that he could indeed ‘rise on stepping-stones of his dead self’ to a new and higher life; and what he thus found so true in his own case he could not but put on record, to be a ‘profitable ministry’ through the Holy Spirit to very many ‘feeble-hearts,’ who like him have become ‘great-hearts’ and ‘lion-hearts’ for Christ.

‘Companion of the Saints! ’twas thine

To taste that drop of peace divine,

When the great soldier of thy Lord

Call’d thee to take his last farewell,

Teaching the Church with joy to tell

The story of your love restored.’

The Christian Year, ‘St Mark’s Day.’

profitable … for the ministry] Lit. serviceable for ministering. Observe the emphatic position of the verb ‘for he is,’ almost implying ‘whatever he once may have been’: primarily this ministering would be to himself, as Erastus and Timothy are designated ‘ministers unto him,’ Acts 19:22.2 Timothy 4:11. Λουκᾶς, Luke) Luke has not brought down the history of the Acts of the Apostles to this period.—μόνος, alone) He is speaking of his companions; for he had many other friends present: 2 Timothy 4:21.—εὔχρηστος, profitable) more than formerly, Acts 13:13; Acts 15:38 : comp. Philemon 1:11. Demas apostatizes: Mark recovers himself: but he (viz. Mark), who had gone away in the case of an easier undertaking, ought now to be present in a time of more serious difficulties.Verse 11. - Useful for profitable, A.V.; ministering for the ministry, A.V. Luke; probably a shortened form of Lucanus. Luke was with St. Paul in his voyage to Rome (Acts 27:1; Acts 28:11, 16), and when he wrote the Epistles to the Colossians and Philemon (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:4), having doubtless composed the Acts of the Apostles during St. Paul's two years' imprisonment (Acts 28:30). How he spent his time between that date and the mention of him here as still with St. Paul, we have no knowledge. But it looks as if he may have been in close personal attendance upon him all the time. if he had been permitted to write a supplement to the Acts, perhaps the repeated "we" would have shown this. Take Mark. Mark had apparently been recently reconciled to St. Paul when he wrote Colossians 4:10, and was with him when he wrote Philemon 1:24. We know nothing more of him till we learn from this passage that he was with or near to Timothy, and likely to accompany him to Rome in his last visit to St. Paul. He is mentioned again in 1 Peter 5:13, as being with St. Peter at Babylon. The expression, "take" (ἀναλαβών), seems to imply that Timothy was to pick him up on the way, as the word is used in Acts 20:13, 14; and, though less certainly, in Acts 23:31. He is useful to me, etc. (εὔχρηστος); as ch. 2:21 (where see note). This testimony to Mark's ministerial usefulness, at a time when his faithfulness and courage would be put to a severe test, is very satisfactory. For ministering (εἰς διακονίαν). It may be doubted whether διακονία here means "the ministry," as in the A.V. and 1 Timothy 1:12, or, as in the R.V., more generally "for ministering," i.e. for acting as an assistant to me in my apostolic labours. The words, "to me," favour the latter rendering. The sense would then be the same as that of the verb in Acts 19:22, where we read that Timothy and Erastus "ministered unto him," i.e. to St. Paul, and that of ὑπηρέτης applied to Mark in Acts 13:5. Luke

See Introd. to Luke. His connection with Paul appears first in Acts 16:10. He remained at Philippi after Paul's departure, and was there seven years later, when Paul revisited the city (Acts 20:5, Acts 20:6). He accompanied Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 21:15), after which we lose sight of him until he appears at Caesarea (Acts 27:2), whence he accompanies Paul to Rome. He is mentioned Colossians 4:14 and Plm 1:24.

Take (ἀναλαβὼν)

In N.T. mostly in Acts. See on Acts 23:31, and comp. Acts 20:13, Acts 20:14.


Mentioned Colossians 4:10; Plm 1:24; 1 Peter 5:13. Probably John Mark (Acts 12:12, Acts 12:25; Acts 15:37), called the cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10). The first mention of him since the separation from Paul (Acts 15:39) occurs in Colossians and Philemon. He is commended to the church at Colossae. In 1st Peter he sends salutations to Asia. In both Colossians and Philemon his name appears along with that of Demas. In Colossians he is named shortly before Luke and along with Aristarchus who does not appear here. He (Mark) is about to come to Asia where 2nd Timothy finds him. The appearance in Colossians of Aristarchus with Mark and of Demas with Luke is probably the point of connection with the representation in 2ndTimothy.

Profitable for the ministry (εὔχρηστος εἰς διακονίαν)

Ἑύχρηστος profitable, only here, 2 Timothy 2:21, Plm 1:11. For for the ministry rend. for ministering or for service, and see on 1 Timothy 1:12.

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