“Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him)”
This is an intensely personal section of Colossians. Paul mentions eight people with him in Rome and two in Colosse.
Aristarchus was from Thessalonica. He accompanied Paul on his third missionary expedition. Aristarchus’ name occurs five times in the New Testament.
Acts 19:29, “So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions.”
Acts 19:29 calls Aristarchus here a traveling companion of Paul. Maybe he was an assistant to Paul. He was a native of Thessalonica who joined Paul on his third missionary journey. In Ephesus, this mob seized him and almost killed him. Nothing good ever comes from a mob. Paul’s two friends, Gaius and Aristarchus, kept him from going into a frenzied and uncontrolled situation.
On his third missionary expedition, Paul was on his way back to Jerusalem. Acts 20:3 says that Aristarchus came from Thessalonica, a city in Macedonia, Greece. The church in Thessalonica was a remarkable church to which Paul wrote two epistles.
Acts 20:4 “And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia.”
By Acts 27, Paul is in prison. He is unfairly treated and appeals to Rome. The authorities decide to ship him to Rome. Aristarchus is mentioned as his companion there as well.
Acts 27:2 “So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us.”
Paul refers to Aristarchus in Philemon 24, where he is called both a “fellow prisoner” and a “fellow laborer.” “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.” Not only was Aristarchus a fellow jailmate but a fellow laborer. The Bible does not tell us of any sermons he preached or his outstanding accomplishments. No, he was one of the unknown servants of Christ. He had no sensational gift but got his name in the Bible five times. He may have run errands for the apostle.
“my fellow prisoner greets you”
Not only does Paul call Aristarchus a “fellow worker,” but here, he says that Aristarchus is my cellmate.
God uses unsung people.
Many people feel that they do not count much in God’s kingdom. They think they are people of no significance and downplay the place God has given them on earth. They seem to believe that this will get them off the hook of serving God. They excuse themselves with the statement, “I am of little worth to the kingdom of God. I am not gifted. I am not talented. I can’t do anything well.”
God has a plan for every person, no matter how great or small their gifts.