Chapter 5 of John Mark’s Remarkable Career—His Later and Complete Reconciliation with the Apostle Paul
We do not know how the turn-around in the life of John Mark came about. We do not know how long it took for John Mark to return to or regain the Apostle Paul’s good graces. All we know is that some years later things had, in fact, changed drastically. Colossians and Philemon were written about twelve years after the apostolic council in Jerusalem. That council took place in or around the year 50. Colossians and Philemon were written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome in the year 62. And by then Paul’s attitude about John Mark was much different. This is evident in three passages. The first two are in the closely related books of Colossians and Philemon.
- Colossians 4:10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him) and Philemon 1:24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. In these passages Paul encourages the Colossian church to welcome John Mark and calls him his fellow worker. Furthermore, Paul’s attitude continued to be steadfastly favorable to John Mark. Probably five years later and just before his death and during his second imprisonment in Rome, Paul once more spoke of Mark with great esteem.
- 2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. Still at the end of his life, Paul regards the one whom he had no doubt once thought useless for ministry as useful to him for the ministry. An abiding change had taken place in Paul’s opinion of John Mark. It was, furthermore, a change that lasted until the very time of Paul’s death. 2 Timothy was written shortly before Paul’s martyrdom in the year 67. Thus, five years after writing Colossians and Philemon Paul’s admiration for Mark had not dwindled, but actually increased.
We learn that because of Christ we must give forgiveness, grace, and second chances to people who have blown it in the past! Paul clearly did! The example of John Mark also condemns us for writing off Christians who have blown it. We must hold out the possibility that their sin may be forgiven and that the grace of a second chance at useful ministry may be given them!
We learn that because of Christ Christians may grow in grace and become more useful than they were in the past! John Mark is a wonderful example that immature Christians who do foolish and unstable things may grow and become useful. I am sure if he did not say it, that Paul was certainly tempted to say that John Mark was useless for the ministry. Yet by the end of his life, he was forced to say—he was glad to say—that John Mark was useful. Useless Christians may be come useful Christians! And that can be true for you!
But wonderful as this is, there is another and final reference to John Mark in the New Testament. It constitutes the sixth chapter in John Mark’s remarkable career and will lead us into the seventh and last chapter. We will consider it in the next post.
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.