4 “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them.” (Acts 13:4–5)
Who exactly was this individual named John? Biblical scholars all conclude that the young man in question was John/Mark. He was a cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10), and an acquaintance of Peter in his youth (1 Pet. 5:13). He accompanied Barnabas and Paul to Antioch (Acts 12:25) and later to Cyprus (13:4–5). He would later desert them at Perga (13:13). It was because of this desertion that Paul refused to take John/Mark on his second missionary journey (15:36–41). John/Mark then accompanied Barnabas to Cyprus (15:39).
John/Mark disappeared until he was with Paul at Rome as an accepted companion and coworker (Col. 4:10; Philemon 24). During Paul’s second imprisonment at Rome, he said John Mark’s presence was useful to him (2 Tim. 4:11). John/Mark wrote the second Gospel that bears his name, being assisted in his task by Peter (1 Pet. 5:13).
Today’s text does not emphatically say that the Holy Spirit sent out John/Mark, but only Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:1-2). Barnabas and Saul went to Seleucia, located on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It was from there that they sailed to the Island of Cyprus and landed at the port city of Salamis. Remember, Barnabas was a native of Cyprus (Acts 4:36). It is very likely he had relatives living on the island.
Barnabas and Saul began proclaiming the Gospel in the Jewish synagogues. This became their normal pattern and custom. They would first preach to the Jews whenever they entered a new city (Acts 13:14; 13:42; 14:1; 17:1-17; 18:1-4; 18:19-26; 19:1-8).
One commentator writes, “Salamis, the chief town of Cyprus, was a port city only about a hundred miles from Seleucia, a straight voyage by ship. As visiting teachers skilled in the law, Barnabas and Saul would be asked to speak in local synagogues. With its large Jewish community, Salamis must have had several synagogues.”
John/Mark was their assistant. The word “assist” means to serve. John/Mark was a servant. In using this word (ὑπηρέτης; hypereten), Luke uses a term which would not be too specific. For example, it may mean ‘one who serves meals’ or ‘one who works around the house.’ In effect, John/Mark was a helper to Barnabas and Saul.
It should be noted that as Barnabas mentored Saul (Acts 9:26-30; 11:11:19-26), it appears that he was doing the same thing with John/Mark. How consistent for this “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36; Acts 9:27; 11:24).
Who mentored you in your formative years as a believer in Christ? Who is presently mentoring you? Who are you mentoring? How, and where, are you serving? Mentoring and serving are Bible basics for believers.
Soli deo Gloria!