Only Luke is with me - This was Luke the evangelist, and writer of the Acts of the Apostles, who was always much attached to St. Paul, and it is supposed continued with him even to his martyrdom.
Take Mark, and bring him with thee - This was John Mark, the sister's son of Barnabas, who, after having wavered a little at first, became a steady, zealous, and useful man; his name and conduct have been often before the reader. See the parallel passages.
For he is profitable to me for the ministry - Εις διακονιαν· For service; that is, he would be very useful to the apostle, to minister to him in his present close confinement. Some think that the apostle means his preaching the Gospel; but at this time, I should suppose, there was very little, if any, public preaching at Rome.
Only Luke is with me - Luke, the author of the gospel which bears his name, and of the Acts of the Apostles. For a considerable part of the ministry of Paul, he was his traveling companion (compare the notes on Acts 16:10), and we know that he went with him to Rome; Acts 27:1.
Take Mark - John Mark, see the notes at Acts 15:37. He was the son of a sister of Barnabas, and had been the traveling companion of Barnabas and Paul. There had been a temporary alienation between Paul and him Acts 15:38; but this passage proves that that had been removed, and that Paul was reconciled to him.
For he is profitable to me for the ministry - In what way he would be profitable, he does not say; nor is it known why Mark was at that time with Timothy. It may be observed, however, that this is such language as Paul might be expected to use of Mark, after what had occurred, as recorded in Acts 15:38. He felt that he was now about to die. If he suspected that there was on the part of Mark any lingering apprehension that the great apostle was not entirely reconciled to him, or retained a recollection of what had formerly occurred, nothing would be more natural than that, at this trying time of his life, Paul should summon him to his side, and express toward him the kindest emotions. It would soothe any lingering irritation in the mind of Mark, to receive such a message.
While the apostle Paul was immured in prison walls that were reeking with dampness, himself a sufferer from infirmities, he greatly desired to see Timothy, his son in the gospel, and leave him his dying charge. He had no hope of release from his bondage until his life should be yielded up. The wicked Nero's heart was thoroughly satanic, and at a word or a nod from him the apostle's life would be cut short. Paul urged the immediate presence of Timothy, and yet feared he would not come soon enough to receive the last testimony from his lips. He therefore repeated the words he would speak to Timothy, to one of his fellow laborers, who was allowed to be his companion in bonds. This faithful attendant wrote the dying charge of Paul, a small portion of which we here quote: 4T 352.1
“They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” A man may be avaricious, and yet excuse himself by saying that he is working for the cause of God; but he obtains no reward, for God does not want money that is obtained by overreaching or by any semblance of dishonesty. 4T 352.2
Paul further urges Timothy: Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.” These words, dictated by Paul just prior to his death, were written by Luke [The substitution of the name of Mark for that of Luke in the first edition was an error of the printer, and not of the manuscript. A few similar errors have been discovered and corrected in this revision.] for our profit and warning. 4T 353.1Read in context »
Since the earlier years of his profession of faith, Mark's Christian experience had deepened. As he had studied more closely the life and death of Christ he had obtained clearer views of the Saviour's mission, its toils and conflicts. Reading in the scars in Christ's hands and feet the marks of His service for humanity, and the length to which self-abnegation leads to save the lost and perishing, Mark had become willing to follow the Master in the path of self-sacrifice. Now, sharing the lot of Paul the prisoner, he understood better than ever before that it is infinite gain to win Christ, infinite loss to win the world and lose the soul for whose redemption the blood of Christ was shed. In the face of severe trial and adversity, Mark continued steadfast, a wise and beloved helper of the apostle. AA 455.1
Demas, steadfast for a time, afterward forsook the cause of Christ. In referring to this, Paul wrote, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” 2 Timothy 4:10. For worldly gain, Demas bartered every high and noble consideration. How shortsighted the exchange! Possessing only worldly wealth or honor, Demas was poor indeed, however much he might proudly call his own; while Mark, choosing to suffer for Christ's sake, possessed eternal riches, being accounted in heaven an heir of God and a joint heir with His Son. AA 455.2
Among those who gave their hearts to God through the labors of Paul in Rome was Onesimus, a pagan slave who had wronged his master, Philemon, a Christian believer in Colosse, and had escaped to Rome. In the kindness of his heart, Paul sought to relieve the poverty and distress of the wretched fugitive and then endeavored to shed the light of truth into his darkened mind. Onesimus listened to the words of life, confessed his sins, and was converted to the faith of Christ. AA 456.1Read in context »
Upon his arrival at Rome, Paul was placed in a gloomy dungeon, there to remain until his course should be finished. Accused of instigating one of the basest and most terrible of crimes against the city and the nation, he was the object of universal execration. AA 490.1
The few friends who had shared the burdens of the apostle, now began to leave him, some by desertion, and others on missions to the various churches. Phygellus and Hermogenes were the first to go. Then Demas, dismayed by the thickening clouds of difficulty and danger, forsook the persecuted apostle. Crescens was sent by Paul to the churches of Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia, Tychicus to Ephesus. Writing to Timothy of this experience, Paul said, “Only Luke is with me.” 2 Timothy 4:11. Never had the apostle needed the ministrations of his brethren as now, enfeebled as he was by age, toil, and infirmities, and confined in the damp, dark vaults of a Roman prison. The services of Luke, the beloved disciple and faithful friend, were a great comfort to Paul and enabled him to communicate with his brethren and the world without. AA 490.2
In this trying time Paul's heart was cheered by frequent visits from Onesiphorus. This warmhearted Ephesian did all in his power to lighten the burden of the apostle's imprisonment. His beloved teacher was in bonds for the truth's sake, while he himself went free, and he spared himself no effort to make Paul's lot more bearable. AA 490.3Read in context »
This desertion caused Paul to judge Mark unfavorably, and even severely, for a time. Barnabas, on the other hand, was inclined to excuse him because of his inexperience. He felt anxious that Mark should not abandon the ministry, for he saw in him qualifications that would fit him to be a useful worker for Christ. In after years his solicitude in Mark's behalf was richly rewarded, for the young man gave himself unreservedly to the Lord and to the work of proclaiming the gospel message in difficult fields. Under the blessing of God, and the wise training of Barnabas, he developed into a valuable worker. AA 170.1
Paul was afterward reconciled to Mark and received him as a fellow laborer. He also recommended him to the Colossians as one who was a fellow worker “unto the kingdom of God,” and “a comfort unto me.” Colossians 4:11. Again, not long before his own death, he spoke of Mark as “profitable” to him “for the ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11. AA 170.2
After the departure of Mark, Paul and Barnabas visited Antioch in Pisidia and on the Sabbath day went into the Jewish synagogue and sat down. “After the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” Being thus invited to speak, “Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.” Then followed a wonderful discourse. He proceeded to give a history of the manner in which the Lord had dealt with the Jews from the time of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and how a Saviour had been promised, of the seed of David, and he boldly declared that “of this man's seed hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: when John had first preached before His coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not He. But, behold, there cometh One after me, whose shoes of His feet I am not worthy to loose.” Thus with power he preached Jesus as the Saviour of men, the Messiah of prophecy. AA 170.3Read in context »