What Happened to the People Who Worked Most Closely with the Apostle Paul?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Luke (died c. 90?) – Paul’s biographer
“Only Luke is with me.” So wrote Paul late in life from a Roman prison, just one evidence of their close relationship.

Early tradition suggests that Luke was born a Greek in Antioch and became a physician before being converted and joining Paul, Silas, and Timothy in Troas on Paul’s second missionary journey (early 50s). Luke was later shipwrecked with Paul on Malta and jailed with Paul in Rome.

He went to Greece around the time of Paul’s death and from there wrote his two-volume history of Jesus and the early church. The second volume, The Acts of the Apostles, is mostly about Paul’s missionary journeys, and in four passages, Luke includes himself in the story, using the pronoun “we” to narrate various events.

One second-century prologue to the Gospel of Luke claims:

“Having neither wife nor child, [Luke] served the Lord without distraction. He fell asleep in Boeotia, at the age of 84, full of the Holy Spirit.”

Constantine the Great transported Luke’s remains to Constantinople in 356, where they are said to be preserved in the Church of the Apostles.

Timothy (died 97) – Trusted confidant
Despite his youth, Timothy quickly gained Paul’s confidence and served as his trusted companion and emissary for 17 years.

Timothy was born in Lystra in Asia Minor to a Greek father and a Jewish mother, Eunice. He, his mother, and grandmother probably became Christians when Paul and Barnabas preached in Lystra during their first missionary journey. When Paul returned a year or so later, he invited Timothy to join him and Silas.

Somehow, he managed to stay out of harm’s way—he was not jailed with Paul and Silas in Philippi, and he avoided the riot in Thessalonica. But when Paul needed an envoy to return to Thessalonica to encourage the new believers there, he sent young Timothy. Later, Paul sent Timothy as emissary to Corinth, where he preached for some time.

Paul called Timothy his “beloved and faithful child in the Lord.” When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, it’s Timothy he asked to “come before winter” to comfort him.

Eusebius, the fourth century historian, says that after Paul’s death, Timothy became the first bishop of Ephesus, probably at around age 40. He outlived Paul by 30 years, and according to one tradition, was present at the death of the Virgin Mary, whose tomb is said to be near Ephesus.

This tradition also says that because he protested festivities honoring Artemis, he was stoned to death in 97. His relics were brought to Constantinople in 356.

John Mark (died c. 80) – First Gospel writer
Was Mark one of the first people in history to be raised in a Christian home? His mother’s home in Jerusalem, where Mark was likely born and raised, was a gathering place for early Christians; it was the house to which Peter fled after he miraculously escaped from prison. A Byzantine tradition says the house was also used for the Last Supper, and the Church of John Mark in Jerusalem is said to mark the site.

Sometime after Pentecost, Mark moved to Antioch, and when the church there commissioned Paul and Barnabas to carry the gospel to Asia Minor, Mark was invited to assist them. For some reason, at Perga, Mark left the mission and returned to Jerusalem—a move that eroded Paul’s confidence in Mark.

When plans were laid for the next missionary journey, Paul argued vehemently with Barnabas against taking Mark again. The disagreement was so sharp, the group split up, and Mark went with Barnabas to Cyprus.

Later, Mark and Paul must have resolved their rift, for Paul calls Mark his “fellow-worker” and tells the Colossians: “If [Mark] comes to you, welcome him.”

Mark eventually made his way to Rome, where he became a companion to Peter—indeed, Peter calls him “my son Mark.” Early Christian writers Papias and Irenaeus say Mark “handed down to us in writing the things that Peter had proclaimed” about Jesus. This Gospel of Mark was the first published account of the life of Jesus.

Church historian Eusebius says Mark eventually went to Alexandria to become its first bishop. Tradition claims Mark was martyred there; in the ninth century, his relics were carried off as war booty to Venice, where they are said to rest in the Cathedral of St. Mark.