Gaius of Macedonia and Aristarchus of Thessalonica (Acts 19:29). These two Christian men were so dominant in the group that when the silversmith’s held their riot in Acts 19, in an effort to express their anger, and in Paul’s absence, the raving mob grabbed these two as a token of their spite towards Paul (Acts 19:28- 31). For this, I believe that these were two important men, in association with Paul. In an attempt to see them released from any danger when Gaius and Aristarchus were being dragged into the theatre, Paul stepped forward and was about to confront the frenzied masses. “The disciples,” however, stopped Paul from making his presence known. Paul was obviously no coward, but for the sake of his mortal safety, the twelve, or members of the twelve disciples held the apostle back.
This character Gaius is a very interesting man in Paul’s life. Firstly, according to 1 Corinthians 1:14, Gaius was one of the few that Paul actually baptised in water, along with another man called Crispus. Although baptised in the context of Corinth, Acts 20:4-6 gives me the impression that “Gaius from Derbe,” accompanying Paul, was the same man as is mentioned in Acts19:29. Romans tells us that Paul was staying with Gaius while he wrote the letter to the Christians in the Roman capital (16:23). If it wasn’t for the fact that the academics reckon 3 John was written so far in the future from Acts 19, I, personally, would be tempted to assert that the church leader that the Apostle John names as Gaius, in 3 John 1 was the same person that we are talking about here. Very interesting, to be sure. But Gaius of Macedonia was definitely a leading light in Paul’s travelling evangelistic team.
Aristarchus the Macedonian was from Thessalonica in Macedonia (Acts 27:2). Acts 20:4 tells us he was travelling with Paul later, as the apostle was moving from Greece back to Asia. Colossians 4:10 and Philemon 24 actually tell us that Aristarchus was a fellow prisoner with Paul (in Rome or Ephesus?). For that reason I include him in aul’s inner circle here in Ephesus.
Epaphras (Col 4:12)
This writer is convinced that Paul and a team of twenty two taking Asia for Christ is definite and cannot be argued with. But there were possibly more with him at certain times during the mission.
If the idea of Paul being imprisoned in Ephesus is a sound one, and I believe it is, and if Colossians was written from an Ephesian cell and not a Roman prison cell we have further discoveries.
Paul did not visit Colossae. Epaphras was the evangelist who founded the the Colossian church about a hundred miles due East of Ephesus. If the premise we are discussing is factual, it would make sense that Epaphras would have gone out from Ephesus and started a satellite mission in Colossae. Was Epaphras one of the “about twelve” in Acts 19:1-6? However, going along, tentatively with this scenario, I would suggest that Epaphras was therefore, possibly team member twenty-three. Epaphras being there in Colossae, and Paul’s ownership of the fatherhood of their faith (Col 1:24-25. 2:1-2) seems much more appropriate and relevant from a man that had sent Epaphras to them from the same province, and was still in Ephesus continuing the mission of which they were a part, rather than the isolated prisoner in a Roman prison who was somehow identifying with people he had not seen and had no part with.
Colossians 4:7-9 talks of Tychicus being sent to Colossae to minister to them. This man, says Paul, was a faithful minister of Christ. Again I say, if the premise of Colossians being written from Ephesus is correct, I would add Tychicus to the circle of friends with Paul. We now have a group of Paul and possibly twenty four others.