Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. 2 Timothy 4:11
Luke is none other than the author of the Gospel which bears his name, and also the book of Acts. He is thus either the only Gentile to author some of the Bible, or – if Job was written by Job – one of only two. This can be determined from Colossians 4 where Luke is excluded from being one of the “circumcision” noted in Colossians 4:11. Though some argue against it, they do so in vain. He was neither a proselyte to Judaism nor was he a Jew. He was, and he remained, a Gentile. He stuck with Paul through many adventures as indicated by the book of Acts, normally seen during the “we” sections. Luke would say “we” to indicate that he was personally with Paul and others at those times. Paul had Luke with him there in Rome during this incarceration as well.
He then directs Timothy to, “Get Mark and bring him with you.” This is speaking of John Mark (Acts 15:27), the writer of the gospel of Mark. This note to bring Mark along is especially tender because in Acts, he had been the traveling partner of Paul and Barnabas on one of their missionary journeys. However, he had left to go back home before completion of the work. Acts 15:36-39 details an argument between Paul and Barnabas over taking Mark with them again. The Greek word used indicated that it was a very strong argument. This led to them splitting up. Paul took Silas and departed, traveling through Syria and Cilicia. Barnabas took Mark and they traveled to Cyprus.
It appears that even if the argument between Paul and Barnabas never died down, which is unknown, there was at least reconciliation between Paul and Mark. As Paul says, “for he is useful to me for ministry.” It is unknown how, or in what capacity, this was so. But Paul ensures that Timothy understood this now. Timothy stood in much the same relationship to Paul as Mark once had. By acknowledging Mark as useful, it shows that reconciliation was both possible and a good thing. It is a lesson for Timothy to remember as he assumed the mantle of the next generation of leaders within the church.
Life application: It is never mentioned if Paul and Barnabas reconciled or not. However, it is probably so. If Paul and Mark did, then unless Barnabas had already died, it is a pretty good indication that they did also. Mark was Barnabas’ cousin, and so the family news would be well known. Such is only speculation, but it should be a reminder to each of us that reconciliation, if possible, is always the preferred option. We will be facing our fellow Christians for all eternity. How much better then to let enmity die before we do!
Lord God, it is rather easy to break off friendships in today’s world. The “unfriend” button is so tempting to click, even over small disagreements. But the reasonable thing to do is to not take offense at every little thing which bothers us. We have become a world full of offended people, instead of those who are willing to overlook faults. Help us in this, especially with those who are our fellow believers in You. Amen.