In the Bible, there are many unsung heroes who are mentioned briefly in different places. One such individual is Tychicus, whom Paul describes as a ‘beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord’. These three qualities reveal a delightful Christian, one whom very believer should endeavour to emulate. If a biography had been written about Tychicus, then these descriptions would have been accurate chapter titles.
He is first mentioned in Acts 20 as one of the Christians who accompanied Paul to Jerusalem with the collection that had been gathered from several churches to help the suffering believers in Jerusalem. We are not told where he came from in Asia although it is reasonable to assume that he was one of Paul’s converts. By this time, he had matured enough to become a trusted delegate to the church in Jerusalem.
The next mention of his name is with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7), which indicates that he had remained with Paul after his arrest in Jerusalem and had accompanied him on his journey to Rome. These references state that he had been chosen by Paul to take his letters to the churches in Ephesus and Colosse. Another duty that he would have fulfilled at this time would have been to inform Philemon, a member of the church in Colosse, about his slave Onesimus who was travelling with Tychicus (Col. 4:9). This means that three books of the New Testament (Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon) were originally delivered by this unsung hero of the Christian faith.
The third mention of Tychicus occurs in Titus 3:12, where Paul says that he is considering sending Tychicus to replace Titus so that he can meet up with Paul. The fourth mention is 2 Timothy 4:12, where Paul once again sends him to Ephesus in order to allow Timothy to join Paul in Rome when the apostle was in prison there for the second time. Tychicus had become such an advanced Christian that he could take the place of such leaders as Titus and Timothy.
Tychicus’ spiritual qualities are very clear in this passage in Colossians. We see some of them in the threefold description of a brother, a minister and a servant; we see two others in Paul’s expectation that Tychicus would both describe things as they were in Rome and encourage the hearts of his listeners. Tychicus knew how to speak as a Christian leader; his choice of words in describing Paul’s circumstances would also comfort his listeners.
We all need role models and we all have one in Tychicus. Paul could say a lot about him in a few words. Would he have been able to do so about you and me?