Summary: The value of friends who minister to you and with you for souls and for encouragement.
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
This part of the Colossian letter would be so easy to skip. It’s like reading a foreign tax roll. Each name represents an indispensable person to Paul. They were a few of the people who made his ministry possible.
Jesus always placed great value on relationships. He spent much of His time deepening His connections with a few significant persons. He taught by practice and precept the importance of befriending people and building relationships. He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Paul always enjoyed a team ministry. At Antioch “the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’” (Acts 13:2). From that time, apart from a brief period in Athens waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him from Thessalonica, Paul never ministered alone. He had a great heart for friends. He loved and responded to friendships. In concluding the letter to the Colossians, Paul offers a group photograph of his supporters during his Roman imprisonment. The list of names shows that the support of others is important in living out our faith. Deep and lasting friendships are often pivotal in our spiritual progress.
I. FRIENDS IN ROME vv. 7-14:
1. Tychicus-The Man with a Servant Heart vv. 7-8: Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.
The name means “fortunate.” Surely, he was fortunate to be associated with the Apostle, but Paul considered himself fortunate also to have Tychicus as a friend. We know little of him. In five New Testament references, he is always linked with Paul as a faithful servant.
Tychicus, a native of Asia Minor, joined the Apostle as he traveled through Greece on the third missionary journey (see brief note in Acts 20:4). Many in Macedonia gave generous love gifts for the saints in Jerusalem. Tychicus was one of those who “gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” (2 Corinthians 8:5).
Now, four years later, Tychicus is still traveling with Paul. Years later, during the final imprisonment Tychicus would carry those notes of final instruction known as 2 Timothy and Titus to two other younger associates of the great apostle to where they served in Ephesus and Crete (See 2 Timothy 4:12 and Titus 3:12).
Paul commends Tychicus to the Colossians by three descriptive phrases: “Dear Brother”-He had stuck with Paul like a brother. They labored together for four years. Paul now related him to other Christians in all ages as a “brother-brother.” He was also a “Faithful minister”-He could be relied upon. He was always ready to do a job, or run an errand. He never attained great prominence, but always did whatever needed to be done. Only heaven knows what great things could be done if God’s people served with no concern over whom gets the credit. Paul at last describes Tychicus as a “Fellow Servant in the Lord”-Paul received invaluable service from this man, but he never forgot that he was ulti¬mately the Lord’s servant. Together they were both totally subjected to the will of Christ. Paul didn’t hesitate to put his servant on a par with himself. Paul entrusted this epistle to Tychicus along with the letters to Ephesus and Philemon. Ephesians 6:21-22, 21 – “So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.“ His responsibility was to deliver a part of the very word of God. We need people like Tychicus to make any ministry successful— people who take seriously their gift of helps.
2. Onesimus-The Man with a Sinful Past v. 9: 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.
Onesimus had belonged to a wealthy slave owner in Colossae, from whom he had escaped. He was now a part of Paul’s ministry team. The Colossian church, or at least a home group of the church, once met at the home of Onesimus’ master, Philemon. The congregation had been deeply offended by Onesimus’ running away. They considered it disobedience and disloyalty. He aggravated the offense by stealing Philemon’s property.