Salutation from fellow workers (4:10-14)

(salutation from fellow workers)

Paul mentions a number of fellow workers in his closing of Colossians. By sharp contrast, he mentions none in closing of Ephesians. It is believed that the epistle of Ephesians is a general church epistle to be read among many churches in different regions, of which the church of Ephesus is the representative.


Aristarchus (亞里達古) my fellow prisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas (巴拿巴的表弟馬可, NRSV—‘cousin’ of Barnabas), (touching whom [Marcus] ye received commandments (NRSV, 'instructions'): if he come unto you, receive him).” (4:10) Aristarchus is first mentioned in Acts 19:29 followed by Acts 20:4 & 27:2. According to Acts 19:29, Aristarchus is a Macedonian, one of “Paul’s companions in travel”.  Acts 20:4 and 27:2 reveals that he is a Thessalonian. While Paul was in Ephesus during his 3rd missionary journey, Aristarchus was caught by the people during an uproar because of Diana, the goddess of the Ephesians. After the incident, Paul went to Macedonia with disciples such as Aristarchus, Timothy and Tychicus. When he was about to go back to Asia, he sent them ahead to Troas and he joined them later at Troas on his way back to Jerusalem. (Acts 20:4-5) According to Acts 27:2, Aristarchus was in the ship to Rome with Paul. So he had been with Paul all the way back to Jerusalem and to Rome for his case of appeal. Now in this epistle of Colosse, Aristarchus is introduced by Paul as his “fellow prisoner” and is regarded as one of his “fellowlabourers” in Philemon 1:24. Therefore, he shares Paul’s suffering of being confined under supervision.

Marcus (Mark)

Marcus (Mark) is Barnabas’ relative (nephew or cousin). This is John Mark that accompanied Paul and Barnabas in their 1st missionary journey. (Acts 13:5) As they started their 2nd missionary journey, Paul had argument with Barnabas over whether to bring Mark again with them. The reason behind it is that Mark left them independently in Pamphylia and returned to Jerusalem during their 1st journey. (Acts 13:13) As a result, Paul and Barnabas went separately in the 2nd journey. Barnabas took Mark whereas Paul took Silas. (Acts 15:36-40)

Here in Colossians’ final salutation, Mark is still with Paul at his writing. It sounds like Paul is sending Mark to Colosse too, though he has mentioned only Tychicus and Onesimus as senders before. And he particularly instructed the church to give him a warm welcome. In II Timothy, Paul charged Timothy to bring Mark with him, “for he is profitable to me for the ministry”. (II Tim 4:11) So, Mark has been a great helper in Paul’s ministry.

Jesus Justus

“And Jesus, which is called Justus (耶數又稱為猶士都), who are of the circumcision (奉割禮的人). These only are my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.” (4:11) Paul states that Jesus Justus, along with Aristarchus and Mark, are circumcised Christians, even though they are not Jews. Joseph Barsabas, surnamed Justus, is mentioned in Acts 1:23; and Titius Justus (NRSV) or Titus Justus (ASV) is mentioned in Acts 18:7. Both are not the Justus listed in this epistle, though they bear the same surname. The fact that Justus in this epistle has the name of Jesus tells us that the name Jesus is already a common name in early church days. Hence, Paul has to particularly specify his surname Justus.

It is interesting to note from this verse that there are very few circumcised Gentile believers who are Paul’s co-workers. The reason is probably because Paul himself strongly objects to the restriction of requiring the Gentile believers to be circumcised. The epistle of Galatians emphatically reflects this point as the basis of argument in the epistle. In Gal 2:3-5, Paul recalled an incident that happened in Jerusalem 14 years ago that “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised (「沒有勉強他受割禮」). And that because of false brethren unawares brought in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage, to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour (「我們就是一刻的工夫也沒有容讓順服他們」), that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” In fact, apart from the above 3 named coworkers, Timothy, Paul’s “own son in the faith” (I Tim 1:2) and closest partner, was circumcised by Paul when Paul took him on his second journey. Paul was under pressure to do so because Timothy’s father was a Greek and “because of the Jews which were in those quarters.” (Acts 16:3)


Now, Paul begins to name the uncircumcised coworkers. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea and them in Hierapolis.” (4:12-13) Besides Onesimus, Epaphras also came from the church of Colosse (“one of you”). In the introductory part of this article, it is already mentioned that Epaphras was the first church leader and is now in prison with Paul. (Philemon 1:23) With this background in mind, it is understandable that Epaphras particularly “hath a great zeal” for the Colossians. The church of Colosse has close partnership with the churches in the neighboring regions, such as the churches in Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Luke & Demas

Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.” (4:14) Luke, of course, is the author of Luke and Acts. Besides this verse, it is interesting that there are 2 other places in NT that mention both Luke and Demas: Philemon 1:24 & II Tim 4:10-11 . In the greetings of Philemon, 5 co-workers of Paul are named: Epaphras, Marcus (Mark), Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas (Luke). (Philemon 1:23-24). These 5 co-workers are also mentioned in Colossians. This is understandable as we have said that Philemon is a chief minister in the church of Colosse (a home church in his house).

In II Tim 4:10-11, however, the spiritual lives of Luke and Demas are extremely different at the time of writing II Timothy. For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…Only Luke is with me.” (II Tim 4:10-11) At this time, Paul is in Rome during his last couple years of service.