Posted by: The Simple Guy | November 14, 2014

Quiet Faithfulness

Col 4:7-14
(7) Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.
(8) I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts,
(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.
(10) Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him),
(11) and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.
(12) Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
(13) For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.
(14) Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.

Our little fellowship is teaching through Colossians.  This text is my next assignment and I still have about a week to study.  Don’t quite have things nailed down yet, but have enjoyed the scenery during the journey.

I have enjoyed looking at the cross references of each of the names in this text.

First: Tychicus

We read about him in Acts 20:4, 2Tim 4:12, and Titus 3:12.

Acts 20:4 is just after the riot in Ephesus when Paul leaves and starts traveling to Jerusalem.

Chronologically, Titus 3:12 would be next.  This is much later.   Between Acts and Titus are several of the hardest years of Paul’s life.  He left Ephesus to take a gift to Jerusalem.  While there, he was arrested and this began the long prison years of Paul’s ministry.   In Titus we see Tychicus is still with him, and is carrying a message to Titus.  Much like here in Colossians.

The last time we hear about Tychicus is in 2Tim 4:12 where Paul is sending him back to Ephesus.  When Paul writes 2Tim, he knows he is about to die.  It appears the last errand he sent Tychicus on was to go back home where their journey began.   It appears that behind the scenes, through most of Paul’s prison time, Tychicus was there.  Interesting that Paul had this to say about him:

He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.
(8) I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts,

Second: Onesimus

Paul is also sending back one of their own, but one who they do not know as one of their own.  Onesimus deserves his own post.  His own chapter.  His own book of the Bible!  (Oh, wait; he has one: Philemon)

Onesimus was a runaway slave who apparently met Paul in prison, and went from a worthless thief, to a useful (that is the meaning of his name) brother.  Many of the church of Colosse would have probably known him from before, as an unsaved servant of Philemon.  But Paul sends him back as a brother.

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 goes back of his own free will, regardless of the consequences.  His safety is at stake, but his integrity is worth more.   He has an uncomfortable meeting to deal with when he arrives.  Will they accept him?  Will Philemon forgive him, or is his life on the line?  Paul could empathize with this, as he (a former persecutor of the church) went back to meet the church in Jerusalem after his conversion on the Damascus road.  Paul could also empathize with the church in Colosse, Philemon in particular, which we will see later.

Also notice, Paul sent Onesimus with Tychicus.  This was an important task Paul entrusted to Tychicus.

 

Third: Aristarchus

Aristarchus is mentioned three times in Acts.  Chapter 19:24, 20:4, and 27:2.  Aristarchus was one of Paul’s friends who was dragged out in the street during the riot at Ephesus and beaten.  Remember Reginald Denny in the LA riots?  This is the picture that comes to my mind.  I would think I would quickly want to disassociate myself at this point, but not Aristarchus.   In chapter 20:4, he leaves for Jerusalem with Paul.  In chapter 27, Paul is in his sea voyage to Rome.  That means Aristarchus was probably shipwrecked with Paul on Malta.

Paul refers to him here in Colossians, and also in Philemon as well.  Here Paul refers to him as a fellow prisoner.  This either means he was so close to Paul that he bore the imprisonment with him, or that he has actually been arrested himself.

A friend in hard times.

Fourth: (and last for this post) Mark

Remember John Mark, the younger cousin of Barnabas?  Remember the guy who abandoned Paul and Barnabas in their first missionary journey when it got hard?  The guy Paul was so opposed to allowing to accompany them on their second journey that they parted ways?  Yea, that guy.

Interesting that Mark and Onesimus are mentioned almost in the same breath.  Interesting that Mark, and Onesimus are mentioned along with Tychicus and Aristarchus.

Especially considering that chapter 3 said this:

Col 3:13
(13) bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Do you kind of hear between the lines something like, “I know how you feel, but remember how Christ forgave you?  Is what Onesimus did to you worse than what you have done to Christ?  Sure you don’t want to associate with a runaway slave, but Christ associated with you. . . .”

Brings me pause, I must say.

Add to that the fact that we find ourselves looking up to those like Aristarchus and Tychicus, but if we are to follow their model in being Christ like, we must also forgive and be faithful friends to those like Onesimus and Mark.  The character trait we admire in them is the same one that causes us to forgive and serve.

Father, help me.  I am so self-centered. . . .

Your thoughts?

The Simple Guy

 

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