A Study of Colossians 4:7–9
All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here. (Colossians 4:7–9)
As we begin to reach the end of this epistle, Paul begins to introduce us to some other of his fellow laborers. The first is Tychicus. He is mentioned 4 other times in scripture, the first is in Acts 20:4, as one who is from Asia (minor), who accompanied Paul into Asia after they met at Troas (in Asia). He is mentioned with another man, Trophimus, who is mentioned in Acts 21:29 as being an Ephesian. With the uproar of the Jews who had supposed that Paul brought Trophimus into the temple, it can be deduced that he was a Gentile Ephesian. This Trophimus, by the way, was also left in Miletum sick, at the end of Paul’s ministry. This is an interesting development in the life of a man who at one time had the gift of healing. The “powers of the world to come” were no longer being manifested after the close of the period of forbearance recorded in Acts. Now if Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ was no longer able to heal his fellow laborers, how can anyone claim to have the “annointing” now? I know that is a little bit of a digression, but it needed to be said.
Now Tychicus was sent by Paul as his messenger to several places. He is mentioned both here and in Ephesians 6:21 as a faithful minister and beloved brother. In Colossians, he is also designated a fellowservant in the Lord. At the end of Paul’s life, Tychicus is no longer with him, but was sent to Ephesus (1 Timothy 4:12). He seems to be counted among the faithful fellow servants as he is mentioned after Luke, who was the one left with Paul, and Mark who was profitable to him for the ministry. He is mentioned one other time, in Titus 3:12, as one of the two that Paul would send to Titus. Tychicus seems to be Paul’s courier during his Roman imprisonment. Epaphras, who delivered news from Colosse to Paul seems to have wound up imprisoned himself, as Philemon 1:23 calls him Paul’s fellowprisoner. So Tychicus became his messenger back and forth, and at the end of Colossians in the KJV, the footnotes suggest that both Ephesians and Colossians were first carried by Tychicus. This man was obviously trusted by Paul, and the evidence of his trustworthiness is that we have these letters declaring the mystery of Christ.
Paul also wanted, and expected, that Tychicus would share his state, or those things that are happening with him. Tychicus also would comfort the hearts of the saints in Colosse, perhaps in letting them know how the Apostle was faring in Rome. They would be strengthened and encouraged by news of his welfare, even while in prison. I am certain that Paul hoped he would return with news of the state of the saints in Colosse, also with the expectation that they indeed were standing “perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12).
So Tychicus carried a written message from Paul to the saints at Colosse, and news about his condition. This man is certainly one of the unsung heroes of the faith, for he transported this capstone of divine revelation that God preserved for us in His word. Would to God that those coming behind us would find us faithful in carrying the Word of God faithfully, not preaching ourselves, but preaching Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.
Another man, Onesimus, is spoken of here. He is a Colossian (“one of you”) just like Epaphras (Colossians 4:12), and he is also called a faithful and beloved brother. He is mentioned here, and is the one that Paul pleads for in his epistle to Philemon. Tychicus and Onesimus together were given the responsibility to carry the epistle to the Colossians. The KJV editors also suggest that Onesimus carried the epistle to Philemon as well. One can almost see Onesimus showing up at Philemon’s door looking down so as to not make eye contact with Philemon while handing him the scroll. We have no known record of Philemon’s reaction to this, but if his relationship to Paul meant anything, he knew it true that he indeed did owe his own self to the apostle (Philemon 19). If Philemon’s relation to Christ meant anything, his reaction would have been like that which the apostle wrote to the Philippians:
Philippians 2:1–4 — “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
While justice would demand punishment for Onesimus’ actions, Paul pleads for Philemon to deal with his formerly unfaithful servant as “a brother beloved…both in the flesh and in the Lord” (Philemon 16). He asks, even pleads, that Philemon would deal with Onesimus as he would deal with Paul, and Paul assures him that he will repay all that Onesimus owes. We would almost have to chuckle at the thought of Philemon demanding this repayment from Paul. What a great picture of forgiveness to our brothers and sisters in Christ! Forgiveness under grace is to forgive “even as God for Christ’s sake HATH FORGIVEN YOU” (Ephesians 4:32). When we demand that others repay us justly when they have wronged us, remember that Christ has put that on His account. Now demand from Christ that He repay us! Go ahead, I dare you!!!
Infinite thanks to God that He does not deal with us according to His justice but “according to His mercy” (Titus 3:5)!
Tychicus and Onesimus would let the Colossians know about what is going on with Paul in Rome. As he says later “Remember my bonds”, he would likely also let them know those things that he told the Philippians:
Philippians 1:12–14 — “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
As the word of the Lord made its way to Cæsar’s palace, so this wonderful “preaching of the cross” has made its way to you. Thanks in part to faithful servants such as these who delivered this letter to Colosse. We know that the word of God is not bound, and had they not delivered it, someone else would have, but we can be thankful to the Lord and to them that they did. So now that we have it, what will we do with this good news of the grace of God? Will we do our part to make it known? How few really know this message in its fullness! Will we receive the truth of Christ, our risen Savior Who died for our sins, and accept it ALONE as our way to wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption?
Romans 6:23 — “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
2 Corinthians 9:15 — ” Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.”