Colossians 4:10
Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(10) Aristarchus my fellowprisoner.—Apparently a Jew, one “of the circumcision” But he is “of Thessalonica,” and is first named (in Acts 19:22) as dragged with Gaius into the theatre in the tumult at Ephesus; thence he accompanied St. Paul (Acts 20:4), at any rate as far as Asia, on his journey to Jerusalem. When, after two years’ captivity, the Apostle starts from Cæsarea on his voyage to Rome, Aristarchus is again named by St. Luke as “being with us” (Acts 27:2). From this fact, and from his being called here “my fellow-prisoner” (a name which there seems no adequate reason to consider as metaphorical), it would appear that, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, Aristarchus really shared his captivity. It is certainly not a little curious that in the Epistle to Philemon (Philemon 1:23-24), sent at the same time, it is Epaphras who is called the fellow-prisoner,” while Aristarchus is simply classed among the fellow-labourers.” This variation is interesting to us as one of the characteristic marks of independence and genuineness in the Epistles; but it can only be accounted for by mere conjecture, such as that of their alternately sharing the Apostle’s captivity.

Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas.—The notices of John Mark in the New Testament are full of interest. This is the first notice of him since the day when St. Paul rejected him from his function of “ministration,” because on the former journey he had “deserted” them at Perga, and had “not gone with them to the work” (Acts 15:38). Then he had gone with Barnabas to Cyprus, to take part in an easier work, nearer home and under the kindly guardianship of his uncle. Now the formal charge to the Colossian Church to “receive him”—a kind of “letter of commendation” (2Corinthians 3:1)—evidently shows that they had known of him as under St. Paul’s displeasure, and were now to learn that he had seen reason to restore him to his confidence. In the Epistle to Philemon Mark is named, as of course (Philemon 1:24), among his “fellow-labourers.” In St. Paul’s last Epistle, written almost with a dying hand (2Timothy 4:11), there is a touch of peculiar pathos in the charge which he, left alone in prison with his old companion St. Luke, gives to Timothy to bring Mark, as now being right serviceable for the “ministration” from which he had once rejected him. Evidently St. Paul’s old rebuke had done its work, and, if Mark did join him in his last hours, he probably thanked him for nothing so much as for the loving sternness of days gone by. Before this, if (as seems likely) he is the “Marcus, my son” of 1Peter 5:13, he was with St. Peter, and must be identified with St. Mark the Evangelist, subsequently, as tradition has it, bishop and martyr at Alexandria.

Colossians 4:10-11. Aristarchus, my fellow-prisoner — Such was Epaphras likewise for a time, Philemon 1:23; saluteth you — “This excellent person was a Jew, (Colossians 4:11,) though born in Thessalonica, Acts 20:4. He, with his countryman Caius, was hurried into the theatre at Ephesus, by Demetrius and the craftsmen, Acts 19:29. Also he was one of those who accompanied Paul from Greece, when he carried the collections for the saints to Jerusalem, (Acts 20:4,) being appointed to that service by the church at Thessalonica, agreeably to the apostle’s direction, 1 Corinthians 16:3. Aristarchus, therefore, was a person of great note, and highly respected by the church of the Thessalonians, of which he was a member. And his whole conduct showed that he merited the good opinion they entertained of him. For when Paul was imprisoned in Judea, that good man abode with him, and ministered to him all the time of his imprisonment, both at Jerusalem and Cesarea, attended him at his trials, and comforted him with his company and conversation. And when it was determined to send Paul into Italy, he went along with him, (Acts 27:2,) and remained with him during his confinement there, and zealously assisted him in preaching the gospel, as the apostle informs us in Colossians 4:11 of this chapter, till at length, becoming obnoxious to the magistrates, he was imprisoned, Colossians 4:10.” — Macknight. And Marcus, touching whom ye received commandments — Or directions, by Tychicus bringing this letter. It is not improbable they might have scrupled to receive him without this fresh direction, after he had left Paul and departed from the work. And Jesus, who is called Justus — Justus being a Latin surname, we may suppose it was given to this person by the Roman brethren, on account of his known integrity, and that it was adopted by the Greeks when they had occasion to mention him: for the Greeks had now adopted many Latin words. These three (Aristarchus, Marcus, and Justus) are the only persons, who, being of the circumcision, are, or have been, my fellow-labourers unto the kingdom of God — That is, in preaching the gospel; and who have been a comfort to me — What then can we expect? That all our fellow- workers should be a comfort to us? The apostle, therefore, having in this passage mentioned the names of all the Jews who sincerely preached Christ in Rome at that time, it is certain Peter was not there then; otherwise his name would have been in the list of those labourers who had been a consolation to St. Paul. For we cannot suppose that Peter was one of those, mentioned Php 1:14-15, who preached the gospel from strife, to add affliction to Paul’s bonds. Yet the Papists contend that Peter presided over the church at Rome twenty-five years successively.

4:10-18 Paul had differed with Barnabas, on the account of this Mark, yet he is not only reconciled, but recommends him to the churches; an example of a truly Christian and forgiving spirit. If men have been guilty of a fault, it must not always be remembered against them. We must forget as well as forgive. The apostle had comfort in the communion of saints and ministers. One is his fellow-servant, another his fellow-prisoner, and all his fellow-workers, working out their own salvation, and endeavouring to promote the salvation of others. The effectual, fervent prayer is the prevailing prayer, and availeth much. The smiles, flatteries, or frowns of the world, the spirit of error, or the working of self-love, leads many to a way of preaching and living which comes far short of fulfilling their ministry. But those who preach the same doctrine as Paul, and follow his example, may expect the Divine favour and blessing.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 Plm 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.

10. Aristarchus—a Macedonian of Thessalonica (Ac 27:2), who was dragged into the theater at Ephesus, during the tumult with Gaius, they being "Paul's companions in travel." He accompanied Paul to Asia (Ac 20:4), and subsequently (Ac 27:2) to Rome. He was now at Rome with Paul (compare Phm 23, 24). As he is here spoken of as Paul's "fellow prisoner," but in Phm 24 as Paul's "fellow laborer"; and vice versa, Epaphras in Phm 23, as his "fellow prisoner," but here (Col 1:7) "fellow servant," Meyer in Alford, conjectures that Paul's friends voluntarily shared his imprisonment by turns, Aristarchus being his fellow prisoner when he wrote to the Colossians, Epaphras when he wrote to Philemon. The Greek for "fellow prisoner" is literally, fellow captive, an image from prisoners taken in warfare, Christians being "fellow soldiers" (Php 2:25; Phm 2), whose warfare is "the good fight of faith."

Mark—John Mark (Ac 12:12, 25); the Evangelist according to tradition.

sister's son—rather, "cousin," or "kinsman to Barnabas"; the latter being the better known is introduced to designate Mark. The relationship naturally accounts for Barnabas' selection of Mark as his companion when otherwise qualified; and also for Mark's mother's house at Jerusalem being the place of resort of Christians there (Ac 12:12). The family belonged to Cyprus (Ac 4:36); this accounts for Barnabas' choice of Cyprus as the first station on their journey (Ac 13:4), and for Mark's accompanying them readily so far, it being the country of his family; and for Paul's rejecting him at the second journey for not having gone further than Perga, in Pamphylia, but having gone thence home to his mother at Jerusalem (Mt 10:37) on the first journey (Ac 13:13).

touching whom—namely, Mark.

ye received commandments—possibly before the writing of this Epistle; or the "commandments" were verbal by Tychicus, and accompanying this letter, since the past tense was used by the ancients (where we use the present) in relation to the time which it would be when the letter was read by the Colossians. Thus (Phm 19), "I have written," for "I write." The substance of them was, "If he come unto you, receive him." Paul's rejection of him on his second missionary journey, because he had turned back at Perga on the first journey (Ac 13:13; 15:37-39), had caused an alienation between himself and Barnabas. Christian love soon healed the breach; for here he implies his restored confidence in Mark, makes honorable allusion to Barnabas, and desires that those at Colosse who had regarded Mark in consequence of that past error with suspicion, should now "receive" him with kindness. Colosse is only about one hundred ten miles from Perga, and less than twenty from the confines of Pisidia, through which province Paul and Barnabas preached on their return during the same journey. Hence, though Paul had not personally visited the Colossian Church, they knew of the past unfaithfulness of Mark; and needed this recommendation of him, after the temporary cloud on him, so as to receive him, now that he was about to visit them as an evangelist. Again, in Paul's last imprisonment, he, for the last time, speaks of Mark (2Ti 4:11).

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner saluteth you: here he doth wish prosperity to them, Luke 10:5, in the name of others, beginning with those of the circumcision, viz.

Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, who had been his fellow traveller, Acts 19:29 20:4 27:2; yea, and now his fellow prisoner, and fellow labourer, Philemon 1:24.

And Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas; and John Mark, who was nephew to Barnabas, Acts 12:12 13:13; and having sometime displeased Paul by his departure and accompanying his uncle Barnabas, Acts 15:37,39, yet afterwards repented, and was reconciled to Paul, 2 Timothy 4:11 Philemon 1:24; being profitable to him for the ministry as an evangelist.

Touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him: concerning this same Mark, Paul had given orders to them, as well as to other churches, (who otherwise, likely, might be prejudiced against him for leaving Paul and his company in Pamphylia, Acts 13:13), that if he came amongst them, they should entertain him kindly, who as Peter’s spiritual son, 1 Peter 5:13, did elsewhere also salute those who were scattered. Some conceive from the commandments here they had received, that Barnabas had written to the Colossians in commendation of his cousin Mark.

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner saluteth you,.... This man was a man of Macedonia, and a Thessalonian; Acts 19:29 which hinders not but that he might be of the circumcision, or a Jew, as is suggested in the following verse; for he might be born at Thessalonica, and yet be of Jewish parents; nor is his Greek name any objection to it, for the Jews themselves say, that the greatest part of the Israelites that were out of the land, their names are as the names of strangers (l): he was a constant companion of the apostle, and one of his fellow labourers, as in Plm 1:24 and now a prisoner with him at Rome; and who having some knowledge of the members of the church at Colosse, takes this opportunity of sending his Christian salutation to them:

and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas; the same with John Mark, whose mother's name was Mary, said here to be sister to Barnabas, Acts 12:12 concerning whom there was a difference between Paul and Barnabas, Acts 15:37, and is the same Mark that wrote the Gospel, and was converted by the Apostle Peter, 1 Peter 5:13 and who is said to have received his Gospel from him; he is also mentioned 2 Timothy 4:11 . The Arabic version calls him here, the "brother's son of Barnabas": and the Syriac version, , "his uncle's son": however, Barnabas being so great a man as he was, and so well known, it added some credit to Mark, that he was a relation of his:

touching whom ye received commandments; not concerning Barnabas, but Mark, concerning whom they had had letters of commendation, either from Barnabas or from Paul, to this purpose:

if he come unto you, receive him; for this was either the substance of those letters, or what the apostle now adds of his own, for the further confirmation of them; and that they might more readily and honourably receive him, when he should come unto them.

(l) T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 11. 2.

Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)
Colossians 4:10. Sending of salutations down to Colossians 4:14.

Ἀρίσταρχος] a Thessalonian, known from Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2, Philemon 1:24, was with Paul at Caesarea, when the latter had appealed to the emperor, and travelled with him to Rome, Acts 27:2.

ὁ συναιχμάλωτός μου] Οὐδὲν τούτου τοῦ ἐγκωμίου μεῖζον, Chrysostom. In the contemporary letter to Philemon at Phlemon Colossians 1:24, the same Aristarchus is enumerated among the συνεργοί; and, on the other hand, at Philemon 1:23 Epaphras, of whose sharing the captivity our Epistle makes no mention (see Colossians 1:7), is designated as συναιχμάλωτος, so that in Philem. l.c. the συναιχμάλωτος is expressly distinguished from the mere συνεργοί, and the former is not affirmed of Aristarchus. Hence various interpreters have taken it to refer not to a proper, enforced sharing of the captivity, but to a voluntary one, it being assumed, namely, that friends of the apostle allowed themselves to be temporarily shut up with him in prison, in order to be with him and to minister to him not merely as visitors, but continuously day and night. Comp. Huther, de Wette, and Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. xxi. According to this view, such friends changed places from time to time, so that, when the apostle wrote our letter, Aristarchus, and when he wrote that to Philemon, Epaphras, shared his captivity. But such a relation could the less be gathered by the readers from the mere συναιχμάλωτος (comp. Lucian, As. 27), seeing that Paul himself was a prisoner, and consequently they could not but find in συναιχμάλ. simply the entirely similar position of Aristarchus as a συνδεσμώτης (Plat Rep. p. 516 C; Thuc. vi. 60. 2), and that as being so at the same time, not, as in Romans 16:7, at some earlier period. Hence we must assume that now Aristarchus, but when the Epistle to Philemon was written, Epaphras, lay in prison at the same time with the apostle,—an imprisonment which is to be regarded as detention for trial, and the change of persons in the case must have had its explanation in circumstances to us unknown but yet, notwithstanding the proximity of the two letters in point of time, sufficiently conceivable. It is to be observed, moreover, that as αἰχμάλ. always denotes captivity in war (see on Ephesians 4:8; also Luke 4:18), Paul by συναιχμ. sets himself forth as a captive warrior (in the service of Christ). Comp. συστρατιώτης, Php 2:25; Philemon 1:2. Hofmann (comp. also on Romans 16:7) is of opinion that we should think “of the war-captive state of one won by Christ from the kingdom of darkness,” so that συναιχμάλωτος would be an appellation for fellow-Christian; but this is an aberration, which ought least of all to have been put forth in the presence of a letter, which Paul wrote in the very character of a prisoner.

Upon ἀνεψιός, consobrinus, cousin: Herod, vii. 5, 82, ix. 10; Plat. Legg. xi p. 925 A; Xen. Anab. vii. 8. 9, Tob 7:12, Numbers 36:11; see Andoc. i. 47; Pollux, iii. 28. Not to be confounded either with nephew (ἀδελφιδοῦς) or with ἀνεψιάδης, cousin’s son, in the classical writers, ἀνεψιοῦ παῖς. See generally, Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 506. To take it in a wider sense, like our “kinsman, relative” (so in Hom. Il. ix. 464, who, however, also uses it in the strict sense as in x. 519), there is the less reason, seeing that Paul does not use the word elsewhere. Moreover, as no other Mark at all occurs in the N. T., there is no sufficient ground for the supposition of Hofmann, that Paul had by ὁ ἀνεψ. Βαρν. merely wished to signify which Mark he meant Chrysostom and Theophylact already rightly perceived that the relationship with the highly-esteemed Barnabas was designed to redound to the commendation of Mark.

περὶ οὗ ἐλαβ. ἐντολ.] in respect of whom (Mark) ye have received, injunctions[173]—a remark which seems to be made not without a design of reminding them as to their execution. What injunctions are meant, by whom and through whom, they were given, and whether orally or in writing, Paul does not say; but the recalling of them makes it probable that they proceeded from himself, and were given ἀγράφως διά τινων (Oecumenius). Ewald conjectures that they were given in the letter to the Laodiceans, and related to love-offerings for Jerusalem, which Mark was finally to fetch and attend to. But the work of collection was probably closed with the last journey of the apostle to Jerusalem. Others hold, contrary to the notion of ἐντολή, that letters of recommendation are meant from Barnabas (Grotius), or from the Roman church (Estius); while others think that the following ἐὰν ἔλθῃ κ. τ. λ. forms the contents of ἐντολάς (Calvin—who, with Syriac, Ambrosiaster, and some codd., reads subsequently δέξασθαι,—comp. Beza, Castalio, Bengel, Bähr, and Baumgarten-Crusius),—a view against which may be urged the plural ἐντολάς and the absence of the article. Hofmann incorrectly maintains that περὶ οὗ ἐλάβ. ἐντολάς is to be taken along with ἐὰν ἔλθῃ π. ὑμ.: respecting whom ye have obtained instructions for the case of his coming to you. This the words could not mean; for ἐὰν ἔλθῃ π. ὑμ. signifies nothing else than: if he shall have come to you, and this accords not with ἐλάβ. ἐντολ., but only with δέξασθε αὐτόν,[174] which Hofmann makes an exclamation annexed without connecting link (that is, with singular abruptness).

ἐὰν ἔλθῃ κ. τ. λ.] Parenthesis; Mark must therefore have had in view a journey, which was to bring him to Colossae. δέχεσθαι of hospitable reception, as often in the N. T. (Matthew 10:14; John 4:45) and in classical authors (Xen. Anab. iv. 8. 23). From the circumstance, however, that δέξασθε stands without special modal definition, it is not to be inferred that Paul was apprehensive lest the readers should not, without this summons, have recognised Mark (on account of Acts 15:38 f.) as an apostolic associate (Wieseler, Chronol. des apost. Zeitalt. p. 567). Not the simple δέξασθε, but a more precise definition, would have been called for in the event of such an apprehension.

[173] περὶ οὗ is not to be referred to Barnabas, as, following Theophylact and Cajetanus (the former of whom, however, explains as if παρʼ οὗ were read), Otto, Pastoralbr. p. 259 ff., has again done. The latter understands under the ἐντολάς instructions formerly issued to the Pauline churches not to receive Barnabas, which were now no longer to be applied. As if the παροξυσμός of Acts 15:39 could have induced the apostle to issue such an anathema to his churches against the highly-esteemed Barnabas, who was accounted of apostolic dignity! Paul did not act so unjustly and imprudently. Comp., on the contrary, Galatians 2:9 and (notwithstanding what is narrated at Galatians 2:11) 1 Corinthians 9:6.

[174] In 1 Timothy 3:14 f., a passage to which Hofmann, with very little ground, appeals, the verb of the chief clause is, in fact, a present (γράφω), not, as would be the case here, a praeterite, which expresses an act of the past (ἐλάβετε). There the meaning is: In the case of my departure being delayed, however, this my letter has the object, etc. But here, if the conditional clause were to be annexed to the past act ἐλάβετε, the circumstance conditioning the latter would logically have to be conceived and expressed in oblique form (from the point of view of the person giving the injunction), in some such form, therefore, as: εἰ ἔλθοι πρὸς ὑμᾶς (comp. Acts 24:19; Acts 27:39; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 491 f.).

Colossians 4:10. Ἀρίσταρχος: a native of Thessalonica, mentioned in Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2, Philm. 24. In Philm. Epaphras is mentioned as Paul’s fellow-prisoner. Fritzsche suggested that his friends took turns in voluntarily sharing his captivity, and explained the difference between the two Epistles in this way. The divergence between the two Epistles testifies to authenticity, for an imitator would not have created a difficulty of this kind. Μᾶρκος (so accented by Blass and Haupt, who refers to Dittenberger in confirmation), the cousin (ἀνεψιὸς) of Barnabas, who may by this time have been dead. He is no doubt the John Mark of the Acts and the evangelist.—ἐλάβετε ἐντολάς. We do not know what these commands were. ἐλάβ. cannot be an epistolary aorist (2nd person), therefore the commands must have been sent previously. ἐὰν ἔλθῃ κ.τ.λ. may express the substance of them.—δέξασθε. Paul may have feared that Mark’s defection from him, which led to the sharp quarrel between him and Barnabas, might prejudice the Colossians against him. The mention of his relationship to Barnabas was probably intended as a recommendation to their kindness. He seems to have been unknown to the Colossians.

10–14. Salutations

10. Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner] My fellow-captive (Latin Versions, concaptivus), fellow-prisoner-of-war. So Epaphras is called, Philemon 1:23 (where see note). And so Andronicus and Junias, Romans 16:7. The word indicates either that Aristarchus was, or had been, in prison with St Paul in the course of his missionary warfare, or that he was now in such close attendance on him that St Paul lovingly calls it an imprisonment.

The name Aristarchus occurs here, in Philemon, and Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2; and it is morally certain that we have one man in all these places. He was a Thessalonian; he accompanied St Paul on his third journey, and was, with Gaius, seized at Ephesus, when the riot broke out. (Just possibly, the word fellow-captive may be a free allusion to that terrible hour.) He was with St Paul later when he returned from Greece to Asia, and either accompanied or followed him on to Syria, for he sails with him from Syria for Rome. We know no more of him; tradition makes him bishop of Apamea, in Asia Minor, east of Colossæ.

Marcus] The name occurs also Acts 12:12; Acts 12:25; Acts 15:37; Acts 15:39; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24; 1 Peter 5:13. We may assume the identity of the man in all the places, and that he is the “John” of Acts 13:5; Acts 13:13. We gather from these mentions that Marcus was also called Johannes; the latter, probably, as his Hebrew home-name, the former as his alternative name for Gentile intercourse. So Saul was Paul, and Jesus (Colossians 4:11) was Justus; and so it is often now with Jews in Europe. (It is noticeable that the Jewish name drops away as the narrative proceeds; “John Mark,” or “John,” is only “Mark” in Acts 15 and in the Epistles.) His father is not mentioned; his mother was a Mary (Miriam), who lived at Jerusalem, whose house was a rendezvous of the disciples a.d. 44, to which Peter, released from prison, went as to a familiar place. He was cousin (see next note) to Barnabas. Peter calls him “my son”; spiritually, of course, assuming the identity of person in all the mentions of Marcus. Perhaps Peter, in the house of Mary, met her son and drew him to the Lord, thus “begetting him again.” With Paul and Barnabas, as their “helper,” he set out on their mission-journey (a.d. 45), but left them at Perga for Jerusalem, for a reason not known, but not approved of by Paul. Some seven years later he accompanied Barnabas on a second mission to Cyprus, after the “sharp contention” of the two Apostles. But that difference was not permanent (see 1 Corinthians 9:6); and now, nine or ten years later again, we find him with St Paul at Rome, and perhaps about to return (see this verse), with his blessing, to Asia. Later again, probably (but see Appendix B), he is with his spiritual father, Peter, at Babylon (probably the literal Chaldean Babylon, not the mystical, Rome). And then, again later, probably, he is with or near Timothy in Asia; and Paul, a second time imprisoned, sends for him, as “useful for him for personal service.” Here end our certain notices. In Scripture, he may be the “certain young man” of Mark 14:51-52. Tradition, from early cent. 2 onwards, makes him the writer of the Second Gospel, and to have compiled it as in some sense Peter’s exponent. (Cp. Eusebius, History, 111. 39; and see Salmon, Introd. to N. T. p. 110, etc.) Later tradition (first recorded cent. 4) makes him founder and first bishop of the Alexandrian church.

sister’s son] Rather, cousin. Latin versions, consobrinus; Wyclif, “cosyn.” The Greek, anepsios, bears the meaning “sister’s son” in later Greek, but its derivation and earlier usage fix it here to mean a cousin-german, the child of the other’s own aunt or uncle.—Etymologically, it is remotely akin to our “nephew”; but that word also has varied its reference. In the A.V. of 1 Timothy 5:4 it means “descendants,” such as grandchildren; representing a different Greek word.—This kinship explains no doubt, in part, the wish of the loving Barnabas to retain Marcus as his helper (Acts 15).

ye received commandments] No doubt through some previous emissary from Rome to Asia.

if he come] An intended visit of Marcus to Asia is implied. Perhaps he was on his way to the residence there which later brought him into connexion with Peter in Chaldea. See note on Marcus, just above.

receive him] It is implied that some misgiving about Marcus lingered among the followers of St Paul. The “commandments” had announced Marcus’ full restoration to St Paul’s confidence, and so to that of his converts; now they were to act upon them.

Colossians 4:10. Συναιχμάλωτός μου, my fellow-prisoner) This was the state of Aristarchus (viz. that of a prisoner), not so Epaphras, Colossians 4:12 : but it is Epaphras, not Aristarchus, that is spoken of as his ‘fellow-prisoner’ in Philem. 123, 24. Perhaps Epaphras, when he came to Rome, was imprisoned, and presently after liberated. Paul might have so called Aristarchus, because he had been formerly imprisoned.—ὁ ἀνεψιὸς Βαρνάβα, [sister’s son, Engl. Vers.] kinsman to Barnabas) Barnabas was better known than Mark; therefore the latter is designated from the former.—περὶ οὗ, concerning whom) namely Mark; the οὗ refers to the nominative, not to the oblique case, of Barnabas [though Βαρνάβα immediately precedes].—ἐλάβετε) ye have received. Tychicus and Onesimus seem to have borne these commandments to the Colossians, along with this epistle. Ye have received, he says, not, you will receive; for the ancients suited their language to the time when the epistle was read, not to the time when it was written, as we should do. Thus, I have written, for I write, Philemon 1:19.—ἐντολὰς, commandments) These are put in antithesis to the writing.—ἐὰν, if) This is the sum of those commandments.

Verse 10. - Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, saluteth you (Philemon 1:2, 23; Philippians 2:25; Romans 16:7). Aristarchus, as a Thessalonian, accompanied the apostle to Jerusalem, along with Tychicus the Asian (Acts 20:4), and was his companion at least during the first part of his voyage to Rome (Acts 27:2). In Philemon 1:23, 24 his name follows that of Mark as a "fellow worker" (comp. ver. 11) and of Epaphras "my fellow prisoner" (comp. Romans 16:7). "Fellow prisoner" (αἰχμαλωτός, captive, prisoner of war) differs from the "prisoner" (δέσμιος, one in bonds) of Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 4:1; Philemon 1:9; 2 Timothy 1:8. The supposition that these men were permitted as friends to share St. Paul's captivity in turn, is conjectural (see Meyer). Possibly the incident recorded in Acts 19:29 was attended by some temporary joint imprisonment of St. Paul and Aristarchus. As "a soldier of Christ Jesus," the apostle was himself now "a prisoner of war" (2 Timothy 2:3, 4; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6); and therefore those who shared his sufferings were his "fellow prisoners," as they were his" fellow soldiers" (Philemon 1:2; Philippians 1:30) and his "fellow servants" (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:7). And Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, about whom you received commandments - if he should come to you, welcome him (Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11; 1 Peter 5:13). It is pleasant to find John Mark, who deserted the apostle in his first missionary journey (Acts 13:13), and on whose account he separated from Barnabas (Acts 15:37-40) ten years before, now taken again into his confidence and friendship (comp. 2 Timothy 4:11). And indeed it is evident that there was no permanent estrangement between the two great Gentile missionaries; for Mark is called "cousin of Barnabas" by way of recommendation (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 2:1, 9, 13). Mary, the mother of John Mark, was a person of some consideration in the Church at Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), and through her he may have been related to Barnabas, who, though a Cypriot Jew, had property near Jerusalem (Acts 4:36, 37), and was also highly honoured by the mother Church (Acts 9:27; Acts 11:22-24; Acts 15:25, 26). Mark is, moreover, a link between the Apostles Paul and Peter. It is to the house of his mother that the latter betakes himself on his escape from Herod's prison (Acts 12:12). In 1 Peter 5:13 he appears, along with Silvanus (Silos), St. Paul's old comrade, in St. Peter's company, who calls him "my son." St. Peter was then at Babylon, where Mark may have arrived at the end of the journey eastwards which St. Paul here contemplates his undertaking. The striking correspondence of language and thought between St. Peter's First Epistle (addressed, moreover, to Churches of Asia Minor) and those of St. Paul to the Ephesians and Colossians (and, in an equal degree, that to the Romans) suggests the existence of some special connection at this time between the two writers, such as may well have been afforded by Mark, if, leaving Rome soon after the despatch of these letters, he travelled in their track by way of Asia Minor to join St. Peter at Babylon. At the time of St. Paul's second imprisonment, about four years later, Mark is again in Asia Minor in the neighbourhood of Timothy, and the apostle desires his services at Rome (2 Timothy 4:11). When or how the Colossians had received already directions concerning Mark, we have no means of knowing. His journey appears to have been postponed. The apostle must before this have communicated with the Colossians. The visit of Epaphras to Rome may have been due to some communication from him. "If he should come to you, give him a welcome," is the request the apostle now makes. Colossians 4:10Aristarchus, my fellow-prisoner

See on Plm 1:23, Plm 1:24. Unnecessary difficulty is made over the fact that the term fellow-prisoner is applied to Epaphras in Plm 1:23, and not to Aristarchus; while here the case is reversed. It is not necessary to suppose that the two had changed places, or that the captivity was voluntary, if a literal captivity was meant. All the three terms fellow-prisoner, fellow-servant, fellow-worker - might be applied to both; and, as Dwight remarks, "Reasons unknown to us may easily have determined the use of one word or the other, independently of the question as to the particular time when they were in imprisonment."


See on Plm 1:24.

Sister's son (ἀνεψιός)

Only here in the New Testament. Rev., correctly, cousin. The sense of nephew did not attach to the word until very late. Lightfoot remains that this incidental notice explains why Barnabas should have taken a more favorable view of Mark's defection than Paul, Acts 15:37, Acts 15:39.

Colossians 4:10 Interlinear
Colossians 4:10 Parallel Texts

Colossians 4:10 NIV
Colossians 4:10 NLT
Colossians 4:10 ESV
Colossians 4:10 NASB
Colossians 4:10 KJV

Colossians 4:10 Bible Apps
Colossians 4:10 Parallel
Colossians 4:10 Biblia Paralela
Colossians 4:10 Chinese Bible
Colossians 4:10 French Bible
Colossians 4:10 German Bible

Bible Hub

Colossians 4:9
Top of Page
Top of Page