Online Bible Commentary
Grace Be With You
Colossians 4:10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him),11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. 15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house. 16 Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it." 18 This salutation by my own hand--Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to the Christians at the church in Colossae while under house arrest in Rome about 61 AD. In this passage, he completes his letter by sending greetings from his co-workers and final instructions from Rome.
Paul sends greetings from six of his co-workers in Rome:
Aristarchus - Paul begins by writing “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you” (v. 10a). Aristarchus was the only one of the six that was currently a fellow prisoner with Paul.
He was from Thessalonika and tradition has him the Bishop of Apamea, an ancient city in Syria. Aristarchus accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey and then on his journey to Rome, where he was imprisoned with Paul.
Mark – Paul writes “with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him),” (v. 10b). Mark was the cousin of Barnabas and a close friend of Peter and his family.
Mark was likely converted by Peter and was a follower of Peter’s. He is believed to have been the author of the Gospel that bears his name.
Mark accompanied Barnabas and Paul on their early travels. He left them during Paul’s first missionary journey, but Paul later asked for him during his imprisonment in Rome. Tradition has it that Mark, after the deaths of Peter and Paul, founded the church in Alexandria, Egypt, where he was later martyred.
Justus – Paul continues by writing “and Jesus who is called Justus.” (v. 11a). Very little is known of Justus, except that his given name was Jesus and he was probably called Justus to honor Jesus.
Paul writes “These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.” (v. 11b). These first three co-workers, Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus, were the only fellow Jews working with Paul in Rome.
Epaphras - Next, Paul sends greetings from the three Gentiles working with him to the mostly Gentile fellowship in Collosae. He writes “Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you” (v. 12a). Epaphras was from Colossae and was instrumental in starting and ministering to the church there.
Paul continues “always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” (v. 12b). Here, Paul identifies Epaphras as a prayer warrior for the church.
Paul writes “For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.” (v. 13). Epaphras had “a great zeal” for the Christians in Colossae and the surrounding areas, specifically Laodicea and Hierapolis.
Luke – Paul writes “Luke the beloved physician” (v. 14a), sending greetings from Luke, the author of the Gospel that bears his name and the Book of Acts. This is the only place in the Bible where Luke is identified as a “physician”, and one of only three times he is mentioned at all, all in Paul’s writings.
Luke was born in Antioch, Syria, the location of Paul’s home church. He was also known as a skilled painter. He accompanied Paul on parts of his second and third missionary journeys and, of course, also to Rome. Somehow, he escaped imprisonment in Rome.
Demas – Paul writes “and Demas greet you.” (v. 14b). Demas is the sixth, and final, co-worker from whom Paul sends greetings. The name Demas was probably a contraction of the names Demetrius or Demarchus.
Perhaps Demas was mentioned last on purpose. Demas later deserted Paul and returned to Thessalonika, because, as Paul described, he was a lover of the world.
Next, Paul identifies to whom the greetings are extended. He writes “Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.” (v. 15).
The greetings are to be sent to not only the Christians in Colasae, but also to the Christians in Laodicia. Paul especially greets Nymphas and the house church he hosts. Nymphas was a wealthy and zealous Christian in Laodicea.
Paul completes this passage, and this letter, with final instructions. He writes “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.” (v. 16).
His instructions are for his letters to be distributed among the churches in the area. The reference to “the epistle from Laodicea” is believed to be the letter to the Ephesians.
Also, Paul has instructions for Archippus. He writes “And say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it." (v. 17).
Archippus was a Christian teacher in Colossae. He was probably a member of Philemon’s family, perhaps his son. This writer is thankful to Smith’s Bible Dictionary for the background information stated in this commentary.
Paul’s instruction to Archippus was to “take heed”, to be careful, when teaching the Gospel. This instruction applies to all who teach the Word of God.
Paul signs this letter with his signature, by his own hand. He writes “This salutation by my own hand--Paul. (v. 18a). Paul used an amanuensis for his writings, but would then sign them himself.
Paul ends this letter, and the Book of Colossians, with more final instructions. He writes “Remember my chains.” (v. 18b).
The phrase “Remember my chains” could have any number of meanings. It could mean to expect persecution when doing the work of God.
It could also mean that there is a cost to being a Christian. Or, it could mean that the Word of God cannot be stopped.
Paul’s customary benediction is “Grace be with you. Amen.” (v. 18c). His prayer is to all who read this letter, that they would have grace, unmerited and undeserved favor from God.