ARISTARCHUS (ăr'ĭs-tar'kŭs, the best ruler). A Macedonian of Thessalonica, one of Paul’s travel companions. This convert from Judaism is spoken of as Paul’s “fellow prisoner,” implying imprisonment for the gospel’s sake (Acts.19.29; Acts.20.4; Acts.27.2; Col.4.10; Phlm.1.24).
ARISTARCHUS ăr ĭs tär’ kəs
, best ruler
). A Thessalonian Christian who was a close companion of Paul. All the NT references doubtless relate to the same man (Acts 19:29
; Col 4:10
; Philem 24
Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica (Acts 27:2), first appeared as Paul’s companion during the riot at Ephesus. As “Paul’s companions in travel,” he and Gaius were seized by the mob and rushed into the theater (Acts 19:29), but seem to have been released unharmed. He and Secundus apparently were the official delegates from the Thessalonian church accompanying Paul to Jerusalem with the collection (Acts 20:4).
Aristarchus was present when Paul’s ship left Caesarea on the trip to Rome (Acts 27:2). Ramsay contended that he could only have accompanied Paul as his slave (St. Paul the Traveller, 315f.). It is not certain, however, that he went all the way to Rome with Paul. He may have been going home and stopped off at Myra (Acts 27:5), as Lightfoot suggested (Philippians, 34f.). But he was with Paul in Rome when he wrote Colossians and Philemon. In Philemon 24 he is designated as a fellow worker, but in Colossians 4:10 he is called “my fellow prisoner,” a title also given Epaphras (Philem 23). Perhaps the two alternated in voluntarily sharing Paul’s imprisonment. From the grouping of the names in Colossians, Aristarchus seems to be of Jewish origin.
According to tradition he was martyred in Rome under Nero.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
He was one of those faithful companions of the apostle Paul who shared with him his labors and sufferings. He is suddenly mentioned along with Gaius as having been seized by the excited Ephesians during the riot stirred up by the silversmiths (Ac 19:29). They are designated "men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel." We learn later that he was a native of Thessalonica (Ac 20:4; 27:2). They were probably seized to extract from them information about their leader Paul, but when they could tell nothing, and since they were Greeks, nothing further was done to them.
When Aristarchus attached himself to Paul we do not know, but he seems ever after the Ephesian uproar to have remained in Paul’s company. He was one of those who accompanied Paul from Greece via Macedonia (Ac 20:4). Having preceded Paul to Troas, where they waited for him, they traveled with him to Palestine. He is next mentioned as accompanying Paul to Rome (Ac 27:2). There he attended Paul and shared his imprisonment. He is mentioned in two of the letters of the Roman captivity, in the Epistle to the church at Col 4:10, and in the Epistle to Phm (Phm 1:24), in both of which he sends greetings. In the former Paul calls him "my fellow-prisoner." According to tradition he was martyred during the persecution of Nero.