The Epistle to Philemon: Final Greetings: John/Mark. Part 2.

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.” (Philemon 23–24 (ESV)

Regarding Paul’s final greetings to Philemon, we continue to examine the disciple named Mark. He was otherwise known as John Mark (Acts 12:25). What more do we know of this young man?

The Tyndale Bible Dictionary provides valuable insight and information.

Luke’s history records that “the disagreement [between Paul and Barnabas over Mark] became so sharp that they parted company” (Acts 15:39, nrsv). Nothing stirred Paul’s feelings more than the question of justification by faith, and Barnabas had demonstrated his weakness on this point (Gal 2:13). Therefore, it may have been the cause of their separation: Barnabas and Mark to Cyprus, and Paul and Silas into Asia Minor to strengthen the new churches (Acts 15:39–41).

About 11 years pass before Mark again appears in the biblical record. In Colossians 4:10 and Philemon 1:24, he is in Rome with “Paul the aged,” who is there as “a prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Phlm 1:19). The fracture had been healed, such that Paul says that Mark and others are “the only ones of the circumcision [the Jews] among my co-workers for the kingdom of God” (Col 4:11, nrsv).

Paul, in his last epistle, pays Mark his final tribute. He tells Timothy, “Do your best to come to me soon.… Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful in my ministry” (2 Tm 4:9, 11, nrsv). Although all had deserted Paul in his trial before Caesar Nero (v 16), Mark, who in his youth had also deserted the apostle, traveled from Ephesus to Rome, endeavoring to come to the beloved Paul with Timothy.

According to 1 Peter 5:13, the apostle Peter sent Mark’s greeting along with that of the church in Babylon (signifying Rome), indicating Mark’s close relationship with the apostle to the circumcision (Gal 2:9). The most important and reliable extrascriptural tradition concerning Mark is that he was the close attendant of Peter. The early church fathers said this association produced the Gospel of Mark, inasmuch as Mark took account of Peter’s teachings about Jesus and then used them to shape his Gospel, perhaps written in Rome between ad 60 and 68.

One of the evidences that the Bible is the Word of God is that it records God’s people as they really are: sinful and flawed human beings. God’s people make mistakes and experience failures. Yet the Lord continues to use us even in spite of our failures. What was true in the Scriptures remains true today.

Remember, it is not as important how you begin serving the Lord, as to how you finish. How’s the journey going for you? Keep pressing on. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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