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Read Introduction to Colossians


“Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him)”


Mark is another of those circles of men with whom Paul served. All these men had a deep sense of mission. Most were Paul’s liaisons to the churches he founded.

“with Mark the cousin of Barnabas”

Barnabas had three character qualities: a “good man,” “Spirit filled,” and a man of “faith” (Acts 11:24). He was the man who endorsed Paul after his conversion when there was great suspicion toward him by church leaders. The church did not trust him until Barnabas intervened for him.

This is the Mark who wrote the gospel. The New Testament names him ten times. He traveled with Paul on the first missionary expedition because Barnabas was his uncle (Acts 12:12,25).

Mark was their “assistant” (Acts 13:5). The thrust of the word means “underrower.” It indicates he was Paul and Barnabas’ “attendant.” Mark carried the briefcase and the notebook computer. He was the chief cook and bottle washer. He carried the bags. He made the reservations.

Mark defected from the first missionary enterprise. He pivoted to a quitter (Acts 13:13). Paul and Barnabas quarreled over Mark because he left Paul in the lurch on the mission field. Because of this desertion, Paul did not trust him on any future team (Acts 15:36-39).

When the going got difficult, Mark, all of a sudden, remembered that he had an appointment with his mother. As he walked down the street, people would say, “How are the clean sheets? How are mom’s cookies? Did you see any pirates in Pamphylia?” He was the subject of possible public ridicule.

An added complication was Mark’s blood relationship with Barnabas. This also caused the breach to widen between Barnabas and Paul. They went their separate ways. Paul took Silas on his missionary expeditions, and Barnabas took Mark.

Mark later became Peter’s associate (“my son,” 1 Peter 5:13; cf. Acts 12:12-13).

Though Mark deserted Paul on the first missionary journey (Acts 15:37-39), Paul here commends him (cf. Phile. 24) as a “fellow laborer,” as he did later in Second Timothy. Now Paul commends Mark because he got on track again. His commendation of Mark is without qualification, “he is useful to me for the ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11).

“(about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him)”

“Received instructions” indicate that Mark was under a cloud of suspicion. He had a poor beginning. He was a failure at the start, but he made a comebackPaul not only reconciled with Mark, but he charged the Colossian church to “welcome him.” “Don’t hold it against him.” Paul truly forgave Mark for deserting him on the field. “Welcome” means hospitable reception (Matthew 10:14; John 4:45). Paul’s recommendation of Mark is unreserved. He said, in effect, “Welcome him with open arms.” Since Mark’s dropout on the mission field caused people to look upon him with suspicion, Paul instructs the church at Colosse to welcome him. He had been previously discharged as useless for the work of Christ.


Initial failure does not mean ultimate failure in ministry.


In biblical Christianity, there is no such thing as the “bird with the broken pinion will never fly so high again.” No failure is fatal as long as we are alive on the earth. If we are alive, God has a purpose for us. It is possible to make good again.

Maybe you have played the coward at some point in your life. It is possible to make good again. Your first attempt at Christian work may have been a failure. Your first try leading a small group may not have been the right match. You may have been a round peg in a square hole. Just because you failed the first time does not mean you will always fail.