The Epistle to Philemon: Final Greetings: Three Fellow Workers.

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)

Today we begin to take a look at the final three individuals mentioned by the Apostle Paul in his letter Philemon. They are Aristarchus, Demas and Luke. Paul called them, along with Epaphras and Mark, his fellow workers.

Commentator Edwin Deibler, writing in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, explains, “Those who sent greetings to Philemon (you in v. 23 is sing.) are five of the six people also mentioned in Colossians 4:10–14, though in a different order: Epaphras … Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke. In Colossians Paul also added “Jesus, who is called Justus.” In Colossians 4:12–13 Paul highly commended Epaphras, who in Philemon 23 is called my fellow prisoner for Christ Jesus.”

The phrase fellow workers (συνεργός; synergos) means a fellow laborer (kjv) or co-worker (nrsv, nab); (Rom. 16:3; 1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 1:24; 8:23; Php. 2:25; 4:3; Col. 4:11; 1Thess. 3:2; Phm. 1; 3 John 8). What do we know of these final three?

Aristarchus. A Thessalonian. Alluded to in Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2. He was Paul’s companion for a portion of the way on the apostle’s journey to Rome.

The Tyndale Bible Dictionary (TBD) states, “Aristarchus was a companion of the apostle Paul; Macedonian from Thessalonica, possibly of Jewish ancestry. He is first mentioned as one of those seized by an angry mob in Ephesus (Acts 19:29). Later he accompanied Paul on the return from his third missionary journey (Acts 20:4) as well as to Rome to face Caesar (Acts 27:1–2). Paul described him as a coworker (Phlm 1:24) and fellow prisoner from whom he received great comfort (Col 4:10–11). Tradition says that Aristarchus was martyred in Rome under Nero.”

Demas. See Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:10. The TBD explains that, “Demas was one of Paul’s associates who was with him during one of his imprisonments. Little is known about Demas beyond the brief information given in the NT. Initially he supported Paul’s ministry and was mentioned in the salutations of Paul’s letters to the Colossians (Col 4:14) and to Philemon (Phlm 1:24). However, in 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul writes that Demas deserted him because of his love for the present world.”

These two fellow workers for Christ and the gospel illustrate two distinct destinies. Aristarchus was an individual who finished well in his service for the Lord. Demas, on the other hand, did not. He allowed himself to be conformed to the world (Rom. 12:1-2).

Let us resolve that no confusion surround our dedication for the Lord when our life comes to an end. May each of us finish well. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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