Colossians 3:23-25; 4:2-13, 17 Sunday School Notes

1. Philip Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary

2. Hawthorne, Martin, Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters

3. Peter O’Brien, Colossians- Philemon, Word Bible Commentary

Col 3:23
enthusiastically/ heartily is Greek ek psuches “from the soul”, implying the great zeal and effort involved. (O’Brien)

as… for the Lord:Christians ultimately do things for God, and no lesser cause. Paul reminds us to keep our priorities clear.

Col 3:24
Reward: Greek antapodosis, usually used in classical writings of “compensation”, “payment”, in a negative way. Here positive.

The inheritance here is eternal life in the presence of God, the faitfhul Christian’s reward.(O’Brien)

Serve the Lord Christ: Whomever your earthly lords are, remember it is Christ you truly serve.

You serve/ For you serve: The difference in the HCSB and KJV here is created by the ambiguous Greek. Douleuete can be read as an imperative (an order) or as an indicative (an explanation). “For” is actually added here in many ancient manuscripts, though it is not found in the oldest and best manuscripts, and scholars today think the imperative fits the context of the surrounding verses better. (Comfort)

Col 3:25
There has been much debate over the context of this verse, whether it is addresses to slaves, masters, or both. It seems wisest to take it as addressed to all Christians. The Christ who commends Peter’s confession of messiahship is the same who condemns Peter only verses later for not seeing things God’s way. It is the same Jesus who judges the seven churches of Asia truthfully, naming both their strengths and weaknesses, and warning of consequences if the weaknesses are not remedied.

Col 4:2
The Greek in v.2 suggests both constant prayer (Acts 1:14, Rom 12:12) and determination(Lk 11:5-13, 18:1-8)

The Greek behind “prayer” is perhaps better translated “petition”, which explains then Paul’s addition of “thanksgiving.(O’Brien)

This pray and watch language is reminiscent both of the disciples in Gethsemane (Mark 14:38) and Jesus’ admonitions about his unexpected return in judgment. (Matt 24:42; 25:13; Mark 13:35, 37; 1 Thes 5:6; Rev 3:3; 16:15)

Col 4:3
Paul often asks his readers to pray(Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6). “Open a door” is imagery for an opportunity to spread the gospel.

“The mystery of the Messiah”: “Mystery” in Paul usually refers to some working of God now that is hidden or inexplicable to non-believers. Here it likely refers to :

1) Jesus the Messiah appearing before the end of the world

2) Jesus resurrected singly, rather than with the rest of the righteous at the end of the world

3) The inclusion of Gentiles in salvation of the righteous through Christ. (DPL)

Col 4:5
Wisely/wisdom: Here wisdom includes both living godly lives and being smart about witnessing to “outsiders”, a reference to non-Christians, especially pagans.(O’Brien)

“redeeming the time” is probably best understood as translated by the HCSB “making the most of the time”, both as a good Christian who is to be about divine business, and also because Christ’s return might be any time.(O’Brien)

Col 4:6
“Speech” refers both to private and public converse.

“Always” in the Greek implies a habitual trait.

“Gracious” is not only polite but also charming.

“Seasoned with salt” implies several things:

1) Flavorful, interesting

2) Salt is a preservative, thus “clean, pure”

3) There are rabbinic and church fathers quotes which take “salt” to imply wisdom, here implying wise enough to understand how to win posible converts over. (O’Brien)

Col 4:7
tik´i-kus (Τύχικος, Túchikos, lit. “chance”): Mentioned 5 times in the New Testament (Act_20:4; Eph_6:21; Col_4:7; 2Ti_4:12; Tit_3:12); an Asiatic Christian, a friend and companion of the apostle Paul.

(1) In the first of these passages his name occurs as one of a company of the friends of Paul. The apostle, at the close of his 3rd missionary journey, was returning from Greece through Macedonia into Asia, with a view to go to Jerusalem. This journey proved to be the last which he made, before his apprehension and imprisonment. It was felt, both by himself and by his friends, that this journey was a specially important one. He was on his way to Jerusalem, “bound in the spirit” (Act_20:22). But another cause which gave it particular importance was that he and his friends were carrying the money which had been collected for several years previous in the churches of the Gentiles, for the help of the poor members of the church in Jerusalem (Act_24:17). No fewer than eight of his intimate friends companied him into Asia, and one of these was Tychicus Luke uses the word “Asian” (English Versions of the Bible “of Asia,” Act_20:4) to describe Tychicus. He was with Paul at Troas, and evidently journeyed with him, as one of “Paul’s company” (Act_21:8 the King James Version), all the way to Jerusalem.

(2) The 2nd and 3rd passages in which the name of Tychicus occurs (see above) give the information that he was with Paul in Rome during his first imprisonment. In Colossians Paul writes, “All my affairs shall Tychicus make known unto you, the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord: whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts” (Col_4:7, Col_4:8). In almost identical words he writes in Ephesians, “But that ye also may know my affairs, how I do, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts” (Eph_6:21, Eph_6:22).

Paul had entrusted Tychicus with a very important mission. He was to deliver the Epistle to the Ephesians, that is, “the circular letter” (see LAODICEANS, EPISTLE TO THE) to the churches in proconsular Asia, to which it was sent, giving a copy of it to the church in Laodicea. He was then to proceed to Colosse, with the Epistle to the church there. In Colosse Tychicus would plead the cause of Onesimus, who accompanied him from Rome. “Under his shelter Onesimus would be safer than if he encountered Philemon alone” (Lightfoot, Commentary on Colossians, 314). In Laodicea and Colosse Tychicus would not only deliver the Epistles from Paul, but he would also, as the apostle had written to the churches in those places, Communicate to them all information about his “state,” that is, how things were going with him in regard to his appeal to the emperor, and his hope of being soon set at liberty. Tychicus would make known to them all things.

(3) The passages in the Epistles to Titus and to Timothy show that Tychicus was again with Paul, after the appeal to the emperor had resulted in the apostle regaining his freedom. The passage in Titus evidently refers to the interval between Paul’s first and second Roman imprisonments, and while he was again engaged in missionary journeys. The apostle writes to Titus, who was in Crete in charge of the churches there, that he intended to send either Artemas or Tychicus to him, so as to take the oversight of the work of the gospel in that island, that Titus might be free to come to be with the apostle at Nicopolis.

(4) The last passage where Tychicus is mentioned occurs in 2 Timothy, which was written in Rome not long before Paul’s execution. To the very end Paul was busy as ever in the work of the gospel; and though it would have been a comfort to him to have his friends beside him, yet the interests of the kingdom of Christ are uppermost in his thoughts, and he sends these friends to help the progress of the work. To the last, Tychicus was serviceable as ever: “Tychicus I sent to Ephesus” (2Ti_4:12). As Timothy was in charge of the church in Ephesus (1Ti_1:3), the coming of Tychicus would set him free, so as to enable him to set off at once to rejoin Paul at Rome, as the apostle desired him (2Ti_4:9, 2Ti_4:21).

It should also be noted that at Ephesus Tychicus would be able to visit his old friend Trophimus, who was, at that very time, only a few miles away, at Miletus, sick (2Ti_4:20).

It is possible that Tychicus is the brother referred to in 2Co_8:22, 2Co_8:23 as one “whom we have many times proved earnest in many things…(one of) the messengers of the churches … the glory of Christ.”

(5) The character and career of Tychicus are such as show him altogether affectionate, faithful and worthy of the confidence reposed in him by Paul, who, as already seen, sent him again and again on important work, which could be performed only by a man of ability and of high Christian worth and experience. Thus, all that is known regarding Tychicus fully bears out the description of his character given by the apostle himself, that he was a beloved brother, a faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord.

A disciple of St. Paul and his constant companion. He was a native of the Roman province of Asia (Acts 20:4), born, probably, at Ephesus. About his conversion nothing is known. He appears as a companion of St. Paul in his third missionary journey from Corinth through Macedonia and Asia Minor to Jerusalem. He shared the Apostle’s first Roman captivity and was sent to Asia as the bearer of letters to the Colossians and Ephesians (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7, 8). According to Tit., iii, 12, Paul intended to send Tychicus or Artemas to Crete to supply the place of Titus. It seems, however, that Artemas was sent, for during the second captivity of St. Paul at Rome Tychicus was sent thence to Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:12). Of the subsequent career of Tychicus nothing certain is known. Several cities claim him as their bishop. The Menology of Basil Porphyrogenitus, which commemorates him on 9 April, makes him Bishop of Colophon and successor to Sosthenes. He is also said to have been appointed Bishop of Chalcedon by St. Andrew the Apostle (Lipsius, “Apokryphe Apostelgesch.”, Brunswick, 1883, 579). He is also called bishop of Neapolis in Cyprus (Le Quien, “Oriens christ.”, Paris, 1740, I, 125; II, 1061). Some martyrologies make him a deacon, while the Roman Martyrology places his commemoration at Paphos in Cyprus. His feast is kept on 29.

Having people carry letters was common in the ancient world, and not only was asking travelers news of home and friends common, but it reflects an ancient (and continuing) prejudice for eyewitness testimony. Letters are good, people you can ask questions of and get answers from are better.

Col 4:8
That you may know how we are/ that he might know your estate: It’s one of the more common causes of textual variants again, the ancient pronunciation of hemon(us)/humon(you) being very similar. Here the problem got exacerbated by scribes trying to fix a variant further, thus creating a third variant that is the KJV reading. (That you may know how you are” being nonsensical to most readers). The experts admit the evidence is tight but for now at least they prefer the HCSB version, as better explaining the creation of the other two readings, one of the rules of textual criticism. (Comfort)

Col 4:9
Fausset Bible Dictionary

(“profitable”.) Philemon’s runaway slave, of Colosse (Col_4:9, “one of you”), in whose behalf Paul wrote the epistle to Philemon: Phm_1:10-16. Slaves were numerous in Phrygia, from whence Paul dwells on the relative duties of masters and slaves (Col_3:22; Col_4:1). Paul’s “son in the faith,” begotten spiritually while Paul was a prisoner at Rome, where Onesimus hoped to escape detection amidst its vast population. Onesimus doubtless had heard the gospel before going to Rome, in Philemon’s household, for at Paul’s third missionary tour (Act_18:23) there were in Phrygia believers. Once unprofitable, by conversion Onesimus became really what his name implies, “profitable” to his master, to Paul, and to the church of God; “the faithful and beloved brother” of the apostle and of his master; godliness is profitable for both worlds, and makes men so (1Ti_4:8). Sent with Tychicus his safeguard, and put under the spiritual protection of the whole Colossian church and of Philemon. He probably had defrauded his master, as well as run away (1Ti_18); Paul offered to make good the loss.
The Apostolic Canons (73) make him to have been emancipated by Philemon. The Apostolic Constitutions (7:46) make him to have been consecrated bishop of Berea by Paul, and martyred at Rome. Ignatius (Ep. ad Ephes. i.) makes an Onesimus the Bishop of the Ephesians. Instead of violently convulsing society by stirring up slaves against their masters, Christianity introduces love, a principle sure to undermine slavery at last; “by christianizing the master, Christianity enfranchises the slave” (Wordsworth). Onesimus so endeared himself to Paul by Christian sympathy and by personal services that he calls him “mine own bowels,” i.e. vitals: he bore for him a parent’s intense affection for a child. Paul would gladly have kept him to minister to him, but delicate regard to Philemon’s rights, and self denying love, made him waive his claims on Philemon and Onesimus (Phm_1:13-14; Phm_1:19). Onesimus “was parted” from his master “for a season” to become his “forever” in Christian bonds. In Phm_1:20 he plays again on the name, “let me have ‘profit’ (Greek onaimen) of thee in the Lord,” “refresh my bowels,” i.e. gratify my feelings by granting this.

Col 4:10
Fausset Bible Dictionary

Aristarchus: of Thessalonica. Paul’s companion on his third missionary tour, and dragged into the theater with Gains by the mob at Ephesus; he accompanied Paul to Asia, afterward to Rome (Act_19:29; Act_20:4; Act_27:2). Paul calls him “my fellow prisoner” (lit. fellow captive, namely, in the Christian warfare), “my fellow laborer,” in his epistles from Rome (Col_4:10; Phm_1:24). Epaphras similarly (Phm_1:23; Col_1:7) is called “my fellow prisoner,” “our fellow servant.” Paul’s two friends possibly shared his imprisonment by turns, Aristarchus being his fellow prisoner when he wrote to the Colossians, Epaphras when he wrote to Philemon. Bishop of Apamaea, according to tradition.

ar-is-tar´kus (Ἀρίσταρχος, Arístarchos, “best ruler”): He was one of those faithful companions of the apostle Paul who shared with him his labors and sufferings. He is suddenly mentioned along with Gaius as having been seized by the excited Ephesians during the riot stirred up by the silversmiths (Act_19:29). They are designated “men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel.” We learn later that he was a native of Thessalonica (Act_20:4; Act_27:2). They were probably seized to extract from them information about their leader Paul, but when they could tell nothing, and since they were Greeks, nothing further was done to them.

When Aristarchus attached himself to Paul we do not know, but he seems ever after the Ephesian uproar to have remained in Paul’s company. He was one of those who accompanied Paul from Greece via Macedonia (Act_20:4). Having preceded Paul to Troas, where they waited for him, they traveled with him to Palestine. He is next mentioned as accompanying Paul to Rome (Act_27:2). There he attended Paul and shared his imprisonment. He is mentioned in two of the letters of the Roman captivity, in the Epistle to the church at Col (Eph_4:10), and in the Epistle to Philem (Phm_1:24), in both of which he sends greetings. In the former Paul calls him “my fellow-prisoner.” According to tradition he was martyred during the persecution of Nero.

Mark, Saint
(Greek Markos, Latin Marcus).It is assumed in this article that the individual referred to in Acts as John Mark (xii, 12, 25; xv, 37), John (xiii, 5, 13), Mark (xv, 39), is identical with the Mark mentioned by St. Paul (Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24) and by St. Peter (1 Peter 5:13). Their identity is not questioned by any ancient writer of note, while it is strongly suggested, on the one hand by the fact that Mark of the Pauline Epistles was the cousin (ho anepsios) of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10), to whom Mark of Acts seems to have been bound by some special tie (Acts 15:37, 39); on the other by the probability that the Mark, whom St. Peter calls his son (1 Peter 5:13), is no other than the son of Mary, the Apostle’s old friend in Jerusalem (Acts 21:12). To the Jewish name John was added the Roman pronomen Marcus, and by the latter he was commonly known to the readers of Acts (xv, 37, ton kaloumenon Markon) and of the Epistles. Mark’s mother was a prominent member of the infant Church at Jerusalem; it was to her house that Peter turned on his release from prison; the house was approached by a porch (pulon), there was a slave girl (paidiske), probably the portress, to open the door, and the house was a meeting-place for the brethren, “many” of whom were praying there the night St. Peter arrived from prison (Acts 12:12-13).When, on the occasion of the famine of A.D. 45-46, Barnabas and Saul had completed their ministration in Jerusalem, they took Mark with them on their return to Antioch (Acts 12:25). Not long after, when they started on St. Paul’s first Apostolic journey, they had Mark with them as some sort of assistant (hupereten, Acts 13:5); but the vagueness and variety of meaning of the Greek term makes it uncertain in what precise capacity he acted. Neither selected by the Holy Spirit, nor delegated by the Church of Antioch, as were Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:2-4), he was probably taken by the Apostles as one who could be of general help. The context of Acts, xiii, 5, suggests that he helped even in preaching the Word. When Paul and Barnabas resolved to push on from Perga into central Asia Minor, Mark, departed from them, if indeed he had not already done so at Paphos, and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). What his reasons were for turning back, we cannot say with certainty; Acts, xv, 38, seems to suggest that he feared the toil. At any rate, the incident was not forgotten by St. Paul, who refused on account of it to take Mark with him on the second Apostolic journey. This refusal led to the separation of Paul and Barnabas, and the latter, taking Mark with him, sailed to Cyprus (Acts 15:37-40). At this point (A.D. 49-50) we lose sight of Mark in Acts, and we meet him no more in the New Testament, till he appears some ten years afterwards as the fellow-worker of St. Paul, and in the company of St. Peter, at Rome.St. Paul, writing to the Colossians during his first Roman imprisonment (A.D. 59-61), says: “Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, saluteth you, and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, touching whom you have received commandments; if he come unto you, receive him” (Colossians 4:10). At the time this was written, Mark was evidently in Rome, but had some intention of visiting Asia Minor. About the same time St. Paul sends greetings to Philemon from Mark, whom he names among his fellow-workers (sunergoi, Philem., 24). The Evangelist’s intention of visiting Asia Minor was probably carried out, for St. Paul, writing shortly before his death to Timothy at Ephesus, bids him pick up Mark and bring him with him to Rome, adding “for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). If Mark came to Rome at this time, he was probably there when St. Paul was martyred. Turning to I Peter, v, 13, we read: “The Church that is in Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you, and (so doth) Mark my son” (Markos, o huios aou). This letter was addressed to various Churches of Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1), and we may conclude that Mark was known to them. Hence, though he had refused to penetrate into Asia Minor with Paul and Barnabas, St. Paul makes it probable, and St. Peter certain, that he went afterwards, and the fact that St. Peter sends Mark’s greeting to a number of Churches implies that he must have been widely known there. In calling Mark his “son”, Peter may possibly imply that he had baptized him, though in that case teknon might be expected rather than huios (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Timothy 1:2, 18; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2:1; Titus 1:4; Philemon 10). The term need not be taken to imply more than affectionate regard for a younger man, who had long ago sat at Peter’s feet in Jerusalem, and whose mother had been the Apostle’s friend (Acts 12:12). As to the Babylon from which Peter writers, and in which Mark is present with him, there can be no reasonable doubt that it is Rome. The view of St. Jerome: “St. Peter also mentions this Mark in his First Epistle, while referring figuratively to Rome under the title of Babylon” (De vir. Illustr., viii), is supported by all the early Father who refer to the subject. It may be said to have been questioned for the first time by Erasmus, whom a number of Protestant writers then followed, that they might the more readily deny the Roman connection of St. Peter. Thus, we find Mark in Rome with St. Peter at a time when he was widely known to the Churches of Asia Minor. If we suppose him, as we may, to have gone to Asia Minor after the date of the Epistle to the Colossians, remained there for some time, and returned to Rome before I Peter was written, the Petrine and Pauline references to the Evangelist are quite intelligible and consistent.When we turn to tradition, Papias (Eusebius, “Hist. eccl.”, III, xxxix) asserts not later than A.D. 130, on the authority of an “elder”, that Mark had been the interpreter (hermeneutes) of Peter, and wrote down accurately, though not in order, the teaching of Peter (see below, MARK, GOSPEL OF SAINT, II). A widespread, if somewhat late, tradition represents St. Mark as the founder of the Church of Alexandria. Though strangely enough Clement and Origen make no reference to the saint’s connection with their city, it is attested by Eusebius (op. cit., II, xvi, xxiv), by St. Jerome (“De Vir. Illust.”, viii), by the Apostolic Constitutions (VII, xlvi), by Epiphanius (“Hær;.”, li, 6) and by many later authorities. The “Martyrologium Romanum” (25 April) records: “At Alexandria the anniversary of Blessed Mark the Evangelist . . . at Alexandria of St. Anianus Bishop, the disciple of Blessed Mark and his successor in the episcopate, who fell asleep in the Lord.” The date at which Mark came to Alexandria is uncertain. The Chronicle of Eusebius assigns it to the first years of Claudius (A.D. 41-4), and later on states that St. Mark’s first successor, Anianus, succeeded to the See of Alexandria in the eighth year of Nero (61-2). This would make Mark Bishop of Alexandria for a period of about twenty years. This is not impossible, if we might suppose in accordance with some early evidence that St. Peter came to Rome in A.D. 42, Mark perhaps accompanying him. But Acts raise considerable difficulties. On the assumption that the founder of the Church of Alexandria was identical with the companion of Paul and Barnabas, we find him at Jerusalem and Antioch about A.D. 46 (Acts 12:25), in Salamis about 47 (Acts 13:5), at Antioch again about 49 or 50 (Acts 15:37-9), and when he quitted Antioch, on the separation of Paul and Barnabas, it was not to Alexandria but to Cyprus that he turned (Acts 15:39). There is nothing indeed to prove absolutely that all this is inconsistent with his being Bishop of Alexandria at the time, but seeing that the chronology of the Apostolic age is admittedly uncertain, and that we have no earlier authority than Eusebius for the date of the foundation of the Alexandrian Church, we may perhaps conclude with more probability that it was founded somewhat later. There is abundance of time between A.D. 50 and 60, a period during which the New Testament is silent in regard to St. Mark, for his activity in Egypt.In the preface to his Gospel in manuscripts of the Vulgate, Mark is represented as having been a Jewish priest: “Mark the Evangelist, who exercised the priestly office in Israel, a Levite by race”. Early authorities, however, are silent upon the point, and it is perhaps only an inference from his relation to Barnabas the Levite (Acts 4:36). Papias (in Eusebius, “Hist. eccl.”, III, xxxix) says, on the authority of “the elder”, that Mark neither heard the Lord nor followed Him (oute gar ekouse tou kurion oute parekoluthesen auto), and the same statement is made in the Dialogue of Adamantius (fourth century, Leipzig, 1901, p. 8), by Eusebius (“Demonst. Evang.”, III, v), by St. Jerome (“In Matth.”), by St. Augustine (“De Consens. Evang.”), and is suggested by the Muratorian Fragment. Later tradition, however, makes Mark one of the seventy-two disciples, and St. Epiphanius (“Hær”, li, 6) says he was one of those who withdrew from Christ (John 6:67). The later tradition can have no weight against the earlier evidence, but the statement that Mark neither heard the Lord nor followed Him need not be pressed too strictly, nor force us to believe that he never saw Christ. Many indeed are of opinion that the young man who fled naked from Gethsemane (Mark 14:51) was Mark himself. Early in the third century Hippolytus (“Philosophumena”, VII, xxx) refers to Mark as ho kolobodaktulos, i.e. “stump-fingered” or “mutilated in the finger(s)”, and later authorities allude to the same defect. Various explanations of the epithet have been suggested: that Mark, after he embraced Christianity, cut off his thumb to unfit himself for the Jewish priesthood; that his fingers were naturally stumpy; that some defect in his toes is alluded to; that the epithet is to be regarded as metaphorical, and means “deserted” (cf. Acts 13:13).The date of Mark’s death is uncertain. St. Jerome (“De Vir. Illustr.”, viii) assigns it to the eighth year of Nero (62-63) (Mortuus est octavo Neronis anno et sepultus Alexandriæ), but this is probably only an inference from the statement of Eusebius (“Hist. eccl.”, II, xxiv), that in that year Anianus succeeded St. Mark in the See of Alexandria. Certainly, if St. Mark was alive when II Timothy was written (2 Timothy 4:11), he cannot have died in 61-62. Nor does Eusebius say he did; the historian may merely mean that St. Mark then resigned his see, and left Alexandria to join Peter and Paul at Rome. As to the manner of his death, the “Acts” of Mark give the saint the glory of martyrdom, and say that he died while being dragged through the streets of Alexandria; so too the Paschal Chronicle. But we have no evidence earlier than the fourth century that the saint was martyred. This earlier silence, however, is not at all decisive against the truth of the later traditions. For the saint’s alleged connection with Aquileia, see “Acta SS.”, XI, pp. 346-7, and for the removal of his body from Alexandria to Venice and his cultus there, ibid., pp. 352-8. In Christian literature and art St. Mark is symbolically represented by a lion. The Latin and Greek Churches celebrate his feast on 25 April, but the Greek Church keeps also the feast of John Mark on 27 September.

Fausset Bible Dictionary
Mark, John
Townson conjectures that the young man introduced as fleeing and leaving his linen robe, fear overcoming shame (Mar_16:51-52), was Mark himself, on the ground that otherwise we see no reason for its introduction, being unconnected with the context. If the young man was the writer, awakened out of sleep by the noise near his house of men proceeding to seize the Savior, then going forth hastily in a linen cloth only, and being an eye witness of Jesus’ apprehension and suspected of being His follower, though not so then but afterward, he would look back on this as the most interesting circumstance of his life; though, like John, in humility he describes without mentioning himself by name. (See LAZARUS.) Mark was son of Mary, residing at Jerusalem, and was cousin (not “sister’s son’,” Col_4:10) of Barnabas. The relationship accounts for Barnabas’ choice of Mark as his companion; also for the house of Mark’s mother being the resort of Christians, Barnabas a leader among them attracting others there.

The family belonged to Cyprus (Act_4:36; Act_13:4; Act_13:13); so Barnabas chose Cyprus as the first station on their journey. Mark readily accompanied him as “minister” (hufretes, “subordinate”) to the country of his kindred; but had not the spiritual strength to overcome his Jewish prejudices which he probably imbibed from his spiritual father Peter (Gal_2:11-14), so as to accompany Paul the apostle of the Gentiles further than Perga of Pamphylia, in his first missionary tour to the pagan. Mark returned to Mary his mother at Jerusalem; he ought to have remembered Jesus’ words (Mat_10:37). Paul therefore (because “he went not with them to the work,” for his accompanying them to his native Cyprus was his own pleasure rather than zeal for pure missionary “work”) rejected him on his second missionary journey (Act_15:37-39). This caused a temporary alienation between Paul and Barnabas. The latter (realizing his name, “son of consolation”) took Mark again to Cyprus, like a tender father in Christ bearing with the younger disciple’s infirmity, until by grace he should become stronger in faith; also influenced by the He of relationship.

Christian love healed the breach, for in Col_4:10 Paul implies his restored confidence in Mark (“touching whom ye received commandments, if he come unto you receive him … my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God which have been a comfort unto me”). The Colossians, 110 miles distant from Perga, 20 from Pisidia, knew of Mark’s past unfaithfulness, and so needed the recommendation to “receive” him as a true evangelist, ignoring the past. So in Phm_1:11-24, he calls Mark “my fellow laborer.” Mark was two years later again in Colossae when Paul tells Timothy, then in Asia Minor (2Ti_4:11), “take Mark and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” A contrast: Demas, once Paul’s” fellow laborer,” fails away; Mark returns to the right way, and is no longer unprofitable, but “profitable (even to an apostle) for the ministry.” By his Latin knowledge he was especially likely to be “profitable” in preaching at Rome where Paul then was when he desired Timothy to “bring Mark.”

He was Peter’s “son” by conversion (probably converted in meeting the apostle in his mother’s house at Jerusalem), and was with his spiritual father when 1Pe_5:13 was written; his connection with Peter, by an undesigned coincidence which marks genuineness, appears in Act_12:12. After Paul’s death Mark joined Peter with whom he had been before associated in the writing of the Gospel. (See PETER.) Mark was with Paul intending to go to Asia Minor, A.D. 61-63 (Col_4:10). In 2Ti_4:11, A.D. 67, Mark was near Ephesus, from whence he was about to be taken by Timothy to Rome. It is not likely Peter would have trenched on Paul’s field of labour, the churches of Asia Minor, during Paul’s lifetime. At his death Mark joined his old father in the faith, Peter, at Babylon. Silvanus or Silas had been substituted for Mark as Paul’s companion because of Mark’s temporary unfaithfulness; but Mark, now restored, is associated with Silvanus (2Ti_4:12), Paul’s companion, in Peter’s esteem, as Mark was already reinstated in Paul’s esteem.

Naturally Mark salutes the Asiatic churches with whom he had been already under Paul spiritually connected. The tradition (Clemens Alex. in Eusebius’ H. E. 6:14, Clem. Alex. Hyp. 6) that Mark was Peter’s companion at Rome arose from misunderstanding “Babylon” (1Pe_5:13) to be Rome. A friendly salutation is not the place where an enigmatically prophetical title would be used (Rev_17:5). Babylon was the center from which the Asiatic dispersion whom Peter (1Pe_1:1-2) addresses was derived. Alexandria was the final scene of Mark’s labors, bishopric, and martyrdom (Nicephorus, H. E. 2:43).

Col 4:12
ep´a-fras (Ἐπαφρᾶς, Epaphrás): A contracted form of Epaphroditus. He must not, however, be confounded with the messenger of the Philippian community. He was with Paul during a part of his 1st Roman imprisonment, joining in Paul’s greetings to Philemon (Phm_1:23). Epaphras was the missionary by whose instrumentality the Colossians had been converted to Christianity (Col_1:7), and probably the other churches of the Lycus had been founded by him. In sending his salutation to the Colossians Paul testified, “He hath much labor for you, and for them in Laodicea, and for them in Hierapolis” (Col_4:13). Epaphras had brought to Paul good news of the progress of the gospel, of their “faith in Christ Jesus” and of their love toward all the saints (Col_1:4). Paul’s regard for him is shown by his designating him “our beloved fellow-servant,” “a faithful minister of Christ” (Col_1:7), and “a bondservant of Christ Jesus” (Col_4:12 margin) . The last designation Paul uses several times of himself, but only once of another besides Epaphras (Phi_1:1).

Fausset Bible Dictionary

Paul’s “dear fellow servant, who is for you (the Colossian Christians, Col_1:7) a faithful minister of Christ,” perhaps implying Epaphras was the founder of the Colossian church. In Phm_1:23, “my fellow prisoner.” Apprehended possibly for his zealous labors in Asia Minor; literally, “fellow captive” (sunaichmalootos), taken in the Christian warfare (Phi_2:25), or else more probably designated so as Paul’s faithful companion in imprisonment. He had been sent by the Colossians to inquire after and minister to Paul.
Aristarchus is designated Paul’s “fellow prisoner” in Col_4:10, and his “fellow laborer” in Phm_1:24 (both epistles were sent at the same time). But, vice versa, Epaphras in the Epistle to Philemon is” his fellow prisoner,” and in the Epistle to the Colossians “his fellow laborer.” In Col_4:12 Paul thus commends him, “Epaphras who is one of you (a native or resident of Colosse), a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently (agoonizomenos, ‘striving as in the agony of a contest’) for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

Fully assured/ complete: The Greek verb here, plerophoreo, is the cause of the different translations here, as it can mean either fully convinced (Rom 4:21, 14:5) or fill/fulfill (2 Tim 4:5, 17).

Col 4:13
Works hard/zeal: The KJV has a different Greek word (zelon) in a later manuscript tradition from the HCSB’s manuscript family, which includes some of the earliest and best manuscripts. (Comfort)

Col 4:17
Fausset Bible Dictionary
A Christian minister at Colossae, whom Paul calls “our fellow soldier,” namely, in the Christian warfare (2Ti_2:3). A member of Philemon’s family, possibly his son, whence Paul includes him in the same salutation with Philemon and Apphia, and the church in Philemon’s house (Phm_1:2). In both the Epistle to the Colossians (Col_4:17) and that to Philemon (which accompanied it) Archippus is mentioned. The Colossians are charged,” Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill (make full proof of) it.” Probably a self sparing and less zealous spirit betrayed itself in Archippus. Laymen may admonish clergy of their duty, when scriptural faithfulness requires it and they admonish in meekness. Martyred, according to tradition, at Chonse, near Laodicea. Archippus with some reason is supposed to be the angel of Laodicea, whom the Lord, like Paul, reproves (Rev_3:14-21).

ar-kip´us (Ἀρχίππος, Archíppos): Addressed by Paul in his letter to Philem, as “our fellow-soldier”; probably a member of Philem’s family circle, holding some official position in the church (Col_4:17; Phm_1:2). See APPHIA. The tradition that he was one of the seventy disciples, became bishop of Laodicea and later became a martyr, seems to have little historical foundation.

A titular see, of Asia Minor, metropolis of Phrygia Pacatiana, said to have been originally called Diospolis and Rhoas; Antiochus II colonized it between 261 and 246 B.C., and gave it the name of his wife, Laodice. The city stood on a spur of Mount Salbacus, one mile from the left bank of the Lycus, between the Asopus and Mount Cadmus; its territory lay between the Lycus and the Caprus. In 220 B.C. Achaeus was its king; then it formed part of the Kingdom of Pergamus, and suffered severely during the war with Mithridates, but recovered its prosperity under Roman rule. About the end of the first century B.C. it was one of the principal cities of Asia Minor, both as to industries and commerce, being famous for its woollen fabrics and its sandals. It had received from Rome the title of free city, and it became the centre of a conventus juridicus, which comprised twenty-four cities besides itself. Its wealthy citizens embellished it with beautiful monuments. One of the chief of them, Polemon, became King of Armenian Pontus—called after him “Polemoniacus”—and of the coast round Trebizond. The city had a school of medicine and gave birth to the two sceptic philosophers, Antiochus and Theiodas. Its coins and inscriptions show evidence of the worship of Zeus, Æsculapius, Apollo, and the emperors. It is frequently mentioned by the Byzantine historians, particularly in the epoch of the Comneni, and was fortified by the Emperor Manuel. The Mongol and Turkish invasions brought on its decay, and then its complete ruin. Its magnificent remains are to be seen near the village of Denizli, formerly and more exactly called Denizli Ladik (Ladik = Laodicea), in the vilayet of Broussa; they consist principally of a stadium, three theatres, an aqueduct, sarcophagi, etc.At the beginning of the Christian era, Laodicea was inhabited, besides its indigenous population of Hellenized Syrians, by Greeks, Romans, and an important Jewish colony. There is extant a letter from the authorities of the city to a Roman magistrate in which the former undertake to refrain from molesting the Jews in their religious observances and customs. These Jews sent regularly to Jerusalem a tribute of twenty pounds of gold. Christianity penetrated into the city from the earliest times: St. Paul mentions the Church of Laodicea as closely united with that of Colossus. It had probably been founded by the Colossian Epaphras, who shared the care of it with Nymphas, in whose house the faithful used to assemble. Paul asks the Colossians to communicate to the Church of Laodicea the letter which he sends to them, and to read publicly that which should come to them from Laodicea, that is, no doubt, a letter which he had written, or was to write, to the Laodiceans (Colossians 2:1 sq.). An apocryphal epistle purporting to be from Paul to the Laodiceans is extant in Latin and Arabic (see APOCRYPHA, I, 614). Some of the Greek MSS. end the First Epistle to Timothy with these words: “Written at Laodicea, metropolis of Phrygia Pacatiana”. The Church of Laodicea is one of the seven (see Ramsay, The Seven Churches of Asia Minor, London, 1908) to the bishops of which are addressed the letters at the beginning of the Apocalypse (Revelation 3:14-21). The first bishops attributed to the See of Laodicea are very uncertain: St. Archippus (Colossians 4:17); St. Nymphas (Colossians 4:15; already indicated as bishop of Laodicea by the Apostolic Constitutions, 7:46); Diotrephes (III John, 9). Next comes St. Sagaris, martyr (c. 166). Sisinnius is mentioned in the Acts of the martyr St. Artemon, a priest of his Church. Nunechius assisted at the Council of Nicaea (325). Eugenius, known by an inscription, was probably his successor. The Arian Cecropius was transferred by Constantius to the See of Nicomedia. When Phrygia was divided into two parts, Laodicea became the metropolis of Phrygia Pacatiana: it figures under this title in all the “Notitiae episcopatuum”. Some twenty incumbents are known besides those already enumerated; the last occupied the see in 1450.There are extant, in Greek, sixty canons of a Council of Laodicea. That this assembly was actually held, we have the testimony of Theodoret (“In Coloss.”, ii, 18, P.L., LXXXII, 619). There has been much discussion as to the date: some have even thought that the council must have preceded that of Nicaea (325), or at least that of Constantinople (381) It seems safer to consider it as subsequent to the latter. The canons are, undoubtedly, only a resume of an older text, and indeed appear to be derived from two distinct collections. They are of great importance in the history of discipline and liturgy; Protestants have often, but quite without reason, invoke one of them in opposition to the veneration of angels.

Fausset Bible Dictionary

A city of Phrygia. Originally Diospolis, then Rheas, then Laodicea. Site of one of the seven churches addressed by Christ through John (Rev_1:11; Rev_3:14). In Paul’s epistle to the COLOSSIANS (Col_4:13-16) Laodicea is associated with Colossae and Hierapolis, which exactly accords with its geographical position, 18 miles W. of Colossae, six miles S. of Hierapolis. It lay in the Roman province “Asia,” a mile S. of the river Lycus, in the Maeander valley, between Colossae and Philadelphia. A Seleucid king, Antiochus II, Theos, named it from Laodice his wife. Overthrown often by earthquakes. It was rebuilt by its wealthy citizens, without state help, when destroyed in A.D. 62 (Tacitus, Annals 14:27). This wealth (arising from its excellent wools) led to a self satisfied “lukewarm” state in spiritual things, which the Lord condemns as more dangerous than positive icy coldness (Rev_3:14-21).

The two churches most comfortable temporally are those most reproved, Sardis and Laodicea; those most afflicted of the seven are the most commended, Smyrna and Philadelphia. Subsequently the church was flourishing, for it was at a council at Laodicea, A.D. 361, that the Scripture canon was defined. “The epistle from Laodicea” (Col_4:16) is Paul’s epistle to the Laodiceans which the Colossians were to apply to them for. Not the epistle to the Ephesians, for Paul was unlikely to know that his letter to the Ephesians would have reached Laodicea at or near the time of the arrival of his letter to the Colossians. In 1Co_5:9 similarly an epistle is alluded to, no longer extant, the Holy Spirit not designing it for further use than the local and temporary wants of a particular church. The apostle’s epistles were publicly read in the church assemblies, being thus put on a level with the Old Testament and Gospels, which were similarly read.

The angel of the Laodicean church is supposed to be Archippus whom Paul 30 years before had warned to be diligent in fulfilling his ministry (Col_4:17). The “lukewarm” state, if the transitional stage to a warmer, is desirable (for a little religion, if real, is better than none), but fatal when an abiding state, for it is mistaken for a safe state (Rev_3:17). The danger is of disregarded principle; religion enough to lull the conscience, not to save the soul; halting between two opinions (1Ki_18:21; 2Ki_17:41; Eze_20:39; Mat_6:24). The hot (at Hierapolis) and cold springs near Laodicea suggested the simile. As worldly poverty favors poverty of spirit (Mat_5:3, compare Luk_6:20), so worldly riches tend to spiritual self sufficiency (Hos_12:8).

Paul’s epistle to the neighbouring Colossae was designed for Laodicea also, though Paul had not seen the Christians there at the time (Col_2:1; Col_2:3; Col_4:6); it tells Laodicea “in whom” to find “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” whereas she thought she had all sufficiency in herself, “because thou sayest I am rich,” etc. He endured a sore conflict, striving in anxious prayer in behalf of the churches of Ephesus and Laodicea that they might be delivered from Judaizing teachers, who blended Eastern theosophy and angel worship with Jewish asceticism and observance of new moons and sabbaths, professing a deeper insight into the world of spirits and a nearer approach to heavenly purity and intelligence than the simple gospel afforded (Col_2:8-9; Col_2:16-23). A few arches and part of an amphitheater are all the remains left of Laodicea Now Denishu.

hē-ẽr-ap´ō̇-lis (Ἱεράπολις, Hierápolis, “sacred city”): As the name implies, Hierapolis was a holy city. It was situated 6 miles from Laodicea and twice that distance from Colosse, on the road from Sardis to Apamea. Though its history is not well known, it seems to have been of Lydian origin, and once bore the name of Kydrara. The Phrygian god Sabazios was worshipped there under the name Echidma, and represented by the symbol of the serpent. Other local deities were Leto and her son Lairbenos. Though called the holy city, Hierapolis was peculiarly regarded as the stronghold of Satan, for there was a Plutonium, or a hole reaching far down into the earth, from which there issued a vapor, even poisoning the birds flying above. It is supposed that upon a stool, deep in the Plutonium, a priest or priestess sat, and, when under the influence of the vapor, uttered prophecies valuable to those who sought them. Though a stronghold of Satan, Hierapolis early became a Christian city, for, according to Col_4:13, the only place where it is mentioned in the New Testament, a church was founded there through the influence of Paul while he was at Ephesus. Tradition claims that Philip was the first evangelist to preach there, and it also claims that he and his two unmarried daughters were buried there; a third who was married, was buried at Ephesus. Several of the early Christians suffered martyrdom at Hierapolis, yet Christianity flourished, other churches were built, and during the 4th century the Christians filled the Plutonium with stones, thus giving evidence that the paganism had been entirely supplanted by the church. During the Roman period, Justinian made the city a metropolis, and it continued to exist into the Middle Ages. In the year 1190 Frederick Barbarossa fought with the Byzantines there.

The modern town is called Pambuk Kalessi, or cotton castle, not because cotton is raised in the vicinity, but because of the white deposit from the water of the calcareous springs. The springs were famous in ancient times because they were supposed to possess Divine powers. The water is tepid, impregnated with alum, but pleasant to the taste. It was used by the ancients for dyeing and medicinal purposes. The deposit of pure white brought up by the water from the springs has heaped itself over the surrounding buildings, nearly burying them, and stalactite formations, resembling icicles, hang from the ruins. The ruins, which are extensive, stand on a terrace, commanding an extensive view, and though they are partly covered by the deposit, one may still trace the city walls, the temple, several churches, the triumphal arch, the gymnasium and baths, and the most perfect theater in Asia Minor. Outside the walls are many tombs.


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