Summary: 66th in a series from Ephesians. The church needs behind the scene heroes like Tychicus.
I’m going to begin with a quiz this morning. The subject of this quiz is the University of Arizona football team. Let’s see how much you know about the team. Let’s begin with the coaching staff. How many of you can name the head coach? [Mark Stoops]. How about the offensive coordinator? [Sonny Dykes] The defensive coordinator? [Mark Stoops]. Very good. Let’s see about some of the players. Who is the quarterback? [Willie Tuitama]. The running back? [Nic Grigsby] Can you name the top receivers? [Mike Thomas, Rob Gronkowski]. Very good, but now the quiz is going to get a little harder.
Can you name the outside receivers coach? [David Nichol] How about the inside receivers coach? [Michael Smith] How many offensive linemen can you name? Who is the long snapper?
If you follow college football at all, then the first set of questions was pretty easy to answer because those players and coaches are the ones who are most visible and who we hear the most about. As fans, most of us don’t have any idea who some of those other people are, however. But if you went to Mike Stoops or Willie Tuitama and asked them just how important some of those lesser known players and coaches are to the success of the team, they would tell you that they are just as valuable as those who get their names plastered all over the sports page each week.
In a sense a church is a lot like a football team. There are those who have a more public role in the church, like the pastors and teachers and worship team. And then there are those who work behind the scenes who nobody really notices. But those people are just as important to the success of the church as those who are in more public roles.
As Paul comes to the end of his letter, he is going to write about someone who was one of those behind the scenes people, someone who most of us have probably never heard of before. And yet, Tychicus played a crucial role in the spread of the gospel and the tremendous growth of the early church. Let’s read our passage out loud together:
Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
Ephesians 6:21, 22 (NIV)
We don’t know a whole lot about Tychicus. His name means something like “chance” or “fortuitous”, and we find his name mentioned five different times in the New Testament. Let’s take a few moments to take a look at those passages and see if we can’t get some insight into why Tychicus was so essential to Paul’s ministry.
We first meet Tychicus in Acts 20:
When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months. Because the Jews made a plot against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.
Acts 20:1-4 (NIV)
Paul was near the end of his third missionary journey. He had just left Ephesus and he planned to return to Jerusalem via Macedonia. He intended to take an offering there, which he would combine with the ones previously taken in Galatia and Achaia, and present them to the needy believers in Jerusalem. In addition to meeting the physical needs of the predominantly Jewish believers there, the offerings were also a means of uniting the predominantly Gentile churches outside of Palestine with the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. Paul was accompanied on this portion of his journey by several representatives of these Gentile churches, including Tychicus.
Tychicus’ willingness to travel with Paul to Jerusalem tells us a lot about his heart. This wasn’t just some fun road trip. Travel in the ancient world was far more difficult and dangerous than it is for us today. This would be a long arduous trip that would take Tychicus away from his family, friends and his church for quite some time. In spite of the frequent warnings that Paul received along the way about the trouble that awaited him in Jerusalem, Tychicus remained faithful to Paul.
We next encounter Tychicus in both Ephesians and Colossians. We’ve already read the Ephesians passage, so let’s look at the parallel passage from Colossians: