“I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back-not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” Philemon 1:20-25 NIV
We continue the theme from the last lesson: the six people mentioned at the end of Philemon.
Aristarchus, was a faithful companion, one who was always there when needed. He is always seen with Paul and other believers, joining them in their great trials and sufferings. Here are five things we know about Aristarchus:
- He was a member of the Thessalonian church
- He was one of the believers attacked by the violent mob in Ephesus.
- He went with Paul to minister in Asia
- He is seen traveling with Paul to Rome after Paul had been arrested and was being transferred to Rome as a prisoner.
- He is seen as a fellow prisoner with Paul in Rome while Paul was awaiting trial on the charge of treason. Apparently, he too was being charged with the same crime.
The point is that he was a real companion, a companion who stood by the side of his fellow believers through thick and thin. He would never think of deserting his dear friends or the Lord, no matter how difficult the task or terrible the trial. He would face imprisonment and suffer death before he would be a turncoat. He was a good man to have around when facing trials, for he would stand by the side of his friend even if it meant imprisonment and death.
Demas is a sad story. He turned away from Christ back to the world. His life is written in tragedy- a life that serves as a warning to other believers- a life that shows the utter necessity of walking in Christ daily. At first, he is seen as a fellow laborer. Later he is just a name, with no comment at all-perhaps suggesting the detection of some loss of spirit and energy in the work for the Lord. Finally, in second Timothy, he is Demas who “loved this present world” and forsook the Lord’s work.
Luke gave all to follow Christ-all that the world had to offer. He was the physician who was beloved by Paul and the church. Apparently, his medical treatment of believers was diligent, compassionate, warm, and personal. He had an effective ministry for Christ among the believers.
We close this series on Philemon with an encouragement to read it and know God’s Word for yourself. Our next series will be What the Bible Says about Civil Authority.