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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Character and Friendship – Hallmarks of Faithfulness

“Tychicus will tell you all the news about me [Paul’s imprisonment]; he is a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow servant in the Lord.”

~Colossians 4:7 (NRSV [modified]).

People tend to disappoint us in life. We trust and they let us down, condemning us both. We trust again and again and we find them wanting. And yet, some we trust are found entirely trustworthy. This is the picture we get of Tychicus, who Paul trusted to carry two sacred letters; letters that would last through this ‘last age.’

What is it we can learn about the faithfulness of Tychicus?

“Beloved Brother”

First we must ask, what symbolised the relationship between Paul and Tychicus? The title “beloved brother” surpasses the affection known to typical sibling brothers—it’s the term we’d associate with loyalty in the midst of much fire. Tychicus had faithfully visited Paul regularly during his political imprisonment, no short task under Nero’s tyranny. In this devotion Tychicus had showed Paul much brotherly love; Paul could only return the affection.

“Faithful Minister”

Unlike Paul’s negative experiences with other apostles, notably John Mark (Acts 15:39), Tychicus had been entirely trustworthy and noble in the discharge of all his duties; presumably going above and beyond even Paul’s hopes for him.

Paul charged Tychicus with two key things to do: 1) gather information on how the church was dealing with the inevitable heresies it had to contend with; and 2) to give inspiration to the Colossians counteracting the opposition they faced in those troubled times.

“Fellow Servant”

Paul is so in amid of Tychicus’ loyalty he considers him entirely equal—a fellow servant. This is no small compliment given Paul’s stature as second only to Jesus in New Testament folk law. Whilst Paul had written the exhortation, Tychicus had an equally important task to carry the Ephesian and Colossian letters, first to their destinations, and then to copy them before quickly taking the message onto nearby churches.

Faithfulness is about taking risks for the relationship; loyalty into courage against the easy way out. It is also about doing this year in, year out—Tychicus had ministered with Paul, albeit in a more deacon-like role than the apostle’s, for ten years. He’d more than proved himself.

Perhaps it’s for us to bend the trend and make it our purpose and mission to be a faithful Tychicus to our contemporary Pauls.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

General Reference:

John Phillips, Exploring Colossians & Philemon – An Expository Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2002), pp. 212-15.

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