Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. (Colossians 4:10)
The Bible is filled with the names of great people, wise men, heroes of faith, scoundrels of infamy, false teachers, faithful apostles and a host of names that nothing is known. Names like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Peter and Paul resonate in the minds of the Bible student because they had a major role in the development of the plan of God to redeem humanity. Men like Aristarchus are slightly revealed on the pages of inspiration leaving the mind to wonder what kind of person he was and what role he had in the early church. Paul mentions him in his letter to Colosse as a man who shared a prison cell. Aristarchus was a traveling companion of the apostle Paul and had suffered abuse at the hands of the people in Ephesus when a riot broke out. He and Gaius were dragged before the magistrates of the city before the clerk of the city quieted the mob and released the men. Paul took Aristarchus with him on his journey arriving in the home country of Aristarchus which was Macedonia and then traveled to Greece. In the letter to Philemon, Paul commends Aristarchus as a co-worker. Here is a man who is mentioned by the Holy Spirit in three of the New Testament books but nothing else is known of him. His name is inscribed in the hall of faith among the saints who suffered with Paul in the work of teaching the gospel and we know hardly anything about him. Admittedly, there are many more that we know less about than Aristarchus.
Luke writes that Aristarchus is from Thessalonica (Macedonia) along with a fellow native named Secundus. Where did Aristarchus learn the truth and how did he come to follow Paul in his arduous trips around the Roman Empire? The name Aristarchus remains a mystery for all the ages but his name is not missed by God. In someplace and at some time, the gospel moved the heart of Aristarchus to obey the gospel of Christ. As a Greek, what moved him to accept this new idea of the Christ and the teachings of the early church? His belief was not a passive one but vibrant to accepting the challenges of imprisonment and the hardships he would face with the apostle Paul. God knew who Aristarchus was and this man of faith knew that God held his name is reserve for eternal life. It is doubtful that more information will emerge of who this man of God was but the one thing that is certain is his name was in the Book of Life and that is all that really mattered to him. Names are important because this is what is found in the memory of God’s grace or the measure of His wrath. Aristarchus kept the faith and like Paul, finished the course as a faithful child of God. His name will not be found in the marble ruins of Rome or the historical documents of days long gone. Aristarchus lived in such a way to inscribe his name in a place that could never be taken away. The hand of God wrote the name Aristarchus in eternity because God knew who he was. Names carved in stone fade away. Those names found in the Lamb’s Book of Life will never fade away as eternity unfolds.
The apostle Paul wrote his letter to Colosse many years ago but the whole world can still read of a man called Aristarchus. He left a legacy of a name that means faithful and true. He was born in Thessalonica but no one knows where he died and where he is buried except God. The body that was placed in the ground was not who Aristarchus was and he did not live for the glory of the flesh. Whenever and however the companion of Paul died it was a day of glory and a moment of victory. Like Paul, he suffered because he believed Jesus was the Son of God. Death unleased the bonds of physical restraints to open the portals of eternity for a man whose name; while unknown for generations; was known by the Lord God. The world is filled with all those who seek to make their name great and hoping that history will bear their names with the badge of glory but to what end? Those who were great in one generation will be forgotten in the succeeding generations as whispers of the past. Names etched on marble fill the landscapes of burial grounds forgotten as only a moment in a time long ago. When the heart of a man believes and obeys the gospel of Jesus Christ, his name will never be forgotten in the mind of God. Men will forget but the Lord will never forget the names of the faithful saints – men like Aristarchus.