In looking at the passage in the Greek (the original language in which it was written), we find two things: First, the word “sister” is not present. Second, we find the word anepsios, which means “cousin.” I should point out, however that the word could have been used in a rather loose, or inclusive, way. We cannot say for certain the exact relation of Mark and Barnabas, and we find quite a number of commentaries, translations, and versions using the word “relative” instead, since we are certain, on account of this specific verse, that they were related.
In the book of the Acts, we read that the relationship of Mark and Barnabas led to a major skirmish with the apostle Paul. Paul and Barnabas traveled together on a first missionary journey, with Mark (also known as John Mark and John) accompanying them (Acts 13:5). As they anticipated a second missionary journey after the first, Barnabas decided he wanted Mark along. Paul disagreed, probably due, at least in part, to Mark’s “going home to Mother” during the first missionary journey (Acts 13:13); Paul and Barnabas thus had a parting of the ways (Acts 15:36–40).
Barnabas then took Mark with him on a missionary trip to Cyprus. Later Paul had other feelings toward Mark (see 2 Timothy 4:11 and Philemon 24). No doubt Mark had more maturity and a better spirit too (1 Peter 5:13). At any rate, Paul told the Colossian believers to welcome Mark, should the latter visit them.
Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to email@example.com or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.