Wednesday, 7 June 2017
…and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me. Colossians 4:11
The name “Justus” is found in Acts 1:23 & 18:7, but it is a surname which is not necessarily speaking of the same person. The name “Jesus” is Jewish, meaning “Salvation.” It could also be a form of “Joshua,” meaning the Lord is Salvation. This Hebrew name was probably the name used among the Jews. “Justus” is Latin, and means “The Just One.” It would have been the name used among the Gentiles. This is not at all uncommon in the New Testament. He is not mentioned in the Epistle to Philemon, even though all the other names here are. Paul, however, includes his greeting of the brethren here.
After this, he says something rather important which is often overlooked, but which teaches us an essential point. He says, “These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision.” Why is this important? It is because he will continue with other names of people who greet the congregation at Colossae, including Luke. This then signifies, without any doubt at all, that Luke was a Gentile. Thus, at least two books of the Bible, Luke and Acts, were in fact written by a Gentile.
Despite this being as obvious as the nose on one’s face, there are still people who will argue against this, demanding that Luke was a Jew. They base this on Romans 3:2 where Paul notes that it is to the Jews that “were committed the oracles of God.” This is what is known as a category mistake. Luke and Acts were not yet a part of the canon of Scripture. Paul was speaking of the Old Testament which pointed to Christ. It further means that they were entrusted with these oracles, not necessarily that they had all been written by Jews. Job was a Gentile, and he may (we do not know) have been the author of his book. Regardless of Job, the New Testament is not the Old, and Paul’s words do not apply to what is being referred to in Romans 3:2. And yet, despite Paul’s clear and obvious words here, people will still make up false analyses concerning Luke in order to justify their presuppositions. This is a very bad way of handling the word of God.
The people Paul has thus far mentioned are the only ones of the circumcision, or Jews, who were with him. He then says about them, “…they have proved to be a comfort to me.” The word “comfort” is parégoria. This is the only use of it in the Bible, and it is used in a medical sense of quieting or soothing. It is where the English word paregoric comes from. Whatever affliction Paul was facing – be it medical or mental – they were there to take away the unnecessary pain and discomfort which he faced. They were as if a soothing balm to him.
Life application: If the Bible teaches that Luke was a Gentile, which it does, but you are stuck with a presupposition that he was a Jew (or a proselyte to Judaism), get over it. Luke was a Gentile.
Lord God, help us to accept what Your word teaches, and then to be obedient to it. Our favorable agreement concerning a precept is irrelevant to our obedience to that precept. We may not agree to driving 40 mph on a certain road, but we are obligated to do so if that is the speed limit. How much more should we be willing to adhere to Your word, even if it isn’t what we want to do! Help us in this, Lord. Amen.