Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here. (Colossians 4:7-8)
We often think of Paul as a lone agent, but in fact he was at the heart of a team of people who helped look after the network of churches he planted around the Roman Empire. In fact, not all these churches were founded by the Apostle himself, as it would appear that the church in Colossae to which Paul is writing was founded by Epaphras (Colossians 1:6-7).
Tychicus, mentioned at the end of the letter, would have been one of this group. We hear of him in Acts 20:4, where we learn he was from the province of Asia, and he evidently was a close colleague of Paul. Not only was he sent to Colossae, but he also went to Ephesus (Ephesians 6:21 and 2 Timothy 4:21) as well as to Crete (Titus 3:12).
Paul clearly values this man (“beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant”), and we begin to get a sense of a group of ministers who travel between the churches bringing news of the movement and encouragement. It may well be that Tychicus would stop off at other churches on his journey.
Onesimus is also sent by Paul, and it would appear that he originally come from the church in Colossae (he is described as “one of you”). He is not described as a fellow servant or a faithful minister, so it would appear that he is simply a companion. He does crop up as the subject of the Epistle to Philemon, and from there we learn that he is a slave, which demonstrates that the Christian faith was being preached to all people.
Both these fellow disciples were tasked with bringing the church in Colossae up to speed with Paul’s ministry, and it is a strong reminder to us the that we do not exist in a vacuum. We are part of a worldwide church, and we would do well to try and keep up with what is happening to our brothers and sisters all around the globe. We can pray for those who are being persecuted, and be encouraged by those who are thriving.
Sometimes we can be also be amazed by those who are doing both: who are thriving whilst being persecuted.