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Fellowship of Encouragement pt. 2

10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you greetings, as does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin (concerning whom you have received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and so does Jesus who is called Justus. These alone of the circumcised are my coworkers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. (Colossians 4:10-11)

Continuing on the theme of a fellowship of believers encouraging one another, Paul notes three people in these sections that helped/are helping him in his ministry. Aristarchus, “my fellow prisoner, sends you greetings.” We learn from here that Aristarchus is in chains alongside Paul, and is probably sharing the gospel alongside him, given his history with Paul. Paul, in Acts 19, Paul was in Ephesus ministering people, specifically casting out demons and healing the sick, which led to many individuals who practiced the occult turn away from their past actions and turn to God. Some blacksmiths, however, were upset that their businesses of statue and shrine making for the occult was being ruined, so they started a riot in the city. Aristarchus and Gaius were both present with Paul when this occurred. Not only that, but in Acts 27, Aristarchus was with Paul as a prisoner when they were shipwrecked on their way to Rome. So, to Aristarchus, adversity was not a big issue, staying close to Paul and preaching to the people about God.

Second person mentioned here is Mark, “Barnabas’s cousin (concerning whom you have received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him).” Mark, known as John Mark, the eventual writer of the book of Mark, early on in his ministry, in Acts 15:37-39, abandoned Paul and Barnabas in Pamphylia. Because of this instance, Paul did not want to bring him along for another missionary journey, even though Barnabas insisted on bringing Mark. Because of this disagreement, Paul and Barnabas would split ways, with Barnabas bringing Mark alongside him, mentoring him. Eventually, Paul and Mark’s relationship would be restored, with Paul trusting Mark to deliver letters and minister to people, as seen in 2 Timothy 4:11, “Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.” Here, in this letter to the church at Colossae, Paul even tells the believers to welcome him.

Finally, we have a believer named Jesus, also known as Justus. We don’t know much about him other than his name here, but he is named by Paul, meaning that he did have some role of encouragement within his life enough to be mentioned by both his Jewish and Roman name. Justus is grouped together with Aristarchus and Mark as “coworkers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to [Paul].”

From each of these individuals, we can have a takeaway. With Aristarchus, we will experience trials and tribulations in this life, but we can be encouraged by others and encourage one another, especially those who are going through the same circumstances, focused on the goal of sharing the gospel. With Mark, we may have setbacks in our spiritual walk, but what matters is that we continue on in our walk, to learn from those mistakes, grow and mature. With Justus, there may be moments that you serve in doing something and feel like it’s not being noticed or not getting the recognition. What matters is that you continue on faithfully serving the Lord as your main audience, and you never know, there may be someone who is observing your service and will encourage you or are on the receiving end of your wonderful blessing of service and will thank you like Paul.

Blessings,

Isaac De Guzman

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