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STUDIES IN ACTS      Studies in Acts

23. ARISTARCHUS - a faithful friend

"Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us" (Acts 27:2).

On his missionary journeys the apostle Paul co-opted a number of people into his team, training them and using them in the Lord's work. Aristarchus was such a man.

Consider the person
Aristarchus joined Paul on his third missionary journey. He travelled through Asia Minor, and was with the apostle during the riot in Ephesus. Later he preceded Paul to Troas. Consider Acts 19:29 and 20:4 here. Aristarchus was quite close to Paul. He accompanied him to Rome and supported him while he was under house arrest (Acts 27:2). When Paul wrote to the Colossian church he referred to him as a fellow-prisoner (Col.4:10; cf. Phlm.24).

Study the Scriptures
Unlike Timothy and Titus, Aristarchus does not appear to be one of Paul's converts (cf. 1 Tim.1:2; Tit.1:4; 2 Tim.1:2), but he relates closely to Paul as one 'in Christ'. There is an intimate fellowship in Christ, which is suggested by the word 'fellow'. In Acts Aristarchus is a fellow-traveller (Acts 19:29); in Colossians he is a fellow-prisoner (Col.4:10). Paul recognises his fellow-workers (e.g., Rom.16:3,9,21; 1 Cor.3:9). The New Testament also speaks of fellow-citizens (Eph.2:19), fellow-soldiers (Phil.2:25; Phlm.2), fellow-servants (Col.1:7), and fellow-elders (1 Pet.5:11).

Ask questions

1. That Aristarchus was a faithful friend may be inferred from the Letter to Philemon (vv.1,2), and from the fact that he stood by Paul during his time of trouble in Ephesus and during his Roman imprisonment. He also experienced the shipwreck of Acts 27 with Paul. Do you agree that there is (or should be) a special friendship or fellowship in Christ?

2. Use a Bible concordance to study the phrase 'in Christ'. Is it equivalent to 'in the church'?

3. Some preachers tend to see Paul as a loner - an isolationist, but does the way he refers to some of his companions as friends contradict this? See Rom.16:5,9,12; Col.4:14.

4. Consider the advice given in Proverbs on friends and friendships (Prov.17:7; 18:24; 19:4,6; 27:6,9,10).

Apply some thoughts

1. Although Paul was a highly disciplined person, he functioned best when surrounded by others, that is, in fellowship. Take time to name and pray for those in your life and church whose friendship is important to you individually or as a church.

2. Pray for team ministries in your church, e.g., the leadership team and the worship team.

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Copyright 2008 Vernon Ralphs

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