Tychicus, The Essential Bit Player

eph tychicus journeying to ephesian church


Tychicus is a true bit player in Scripture.  In the movies, a bit player is a character who is always in the background.  They may or may not be important in the development of the main story, but often they do serve a purpose.  The Bible is chock full of bit players, and we’ve looked at three of them so far:  Namaan, Gehazi, and Lazarus.  These three men are bit players because their stories occupy just a few verses, yet they are important because we are able to look at them and learn something applicable to our lives.  Every word in the Bible is important—every story and event is important and vital for us to know.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t be in the Bible!

These things that were written in the Scriptures so long ago are to teach us patience and to encourage us so that we will look forward expectantly to the time when God will conquer sin and death.  (Romans 15:4  TLB)

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.  (1 Corinthians 10:11, 12  NKJV)

The last bit player of Scripture we will look at is man with the odd name of Tychicus.  His name means “chance” or “fortuitous,” so it may be an odd name, but it’s a good one.  Wouldn’t you want to have a friend whose name means “Lucky?”

Tychicus is mentioned a grand total of 5 times in the New Testament.  His first mention is in the book of Acts.

1.  First mention

Several men were traveling with him, going as far as Turkey; they were Sopater of Berea, the son of Pyrrhus; Aristarchus and Secundus, from Thessalonica; Gaius, from Derbe; and Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus, who were returning to their homes in Turkey, and had gone on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas.  (Acts 20:4, 5  TLB)

All the men listed here were believers who had come to Christ under Paul’s ministry.  We could call them missionaries, but maybe a better name for this group would be “bodyguards.”  During his travels, Paul had received substantial monetary gifts for the members of the hurting church in Jerusalem, and these men, representatives of some of those generous churches, went along with Paul.   Given the great apostle’s estimation of those churches, we can infer that Tychicus and the others mentioned were thoughtful and generous Christian men.

Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others.  They gave not only what they could afford but far more; and I can testify that they did it because they wanted to and not because of nagging on my part.  (2 Corinthians 8:2, 3  TLB)

Carrying all that money was risky, so these men not only helped Paul in his ministry, but also helped keep him safe.

2.  Second mention

Tychicus, who is a much-loved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work, will tell you all about how I am getting along.  I am sending him to you for just this purpose: to let you know how we are and be encouraged by his report.  (Ephesians 6:21, 22  TLB)

Here, bit player Tychicus is called by Paul a “much-loved brother” and “faithful helper.”  The loyalty of Tychicus in serving both the Lord and Paul created a powerful bond of friendship between the two of them.  As a “much-loved brother” who was “faithful,” this man was completely trustworthy.  Whatever Paul would ask of him, Tychicus could be depended upon to do.

These two verses indicate that Paul wanted his loyal friend to do two things.  First, he was to carry this letter (we have to come to call it Ephesians) to the church at Ephesus.  While he didn’t write the letter, he did get to where it needed to be, and that was pretty important.  And, assuming this letter was also a “circular letter,” a letter meant to be read in other churches, Tychicus’ mission was vital.  He didn’t write it, but he did play a part in transmitting the Word of God to God’s people.  Kyle Beshear’s excellent article makes this observation:

Paul, who had just completed the big task of writing the Book of Ephesians, entrusted Tychicus with the small task of delivering it. And Tychicus followed through. He was faithful with the small thing God gave him through Paul, which turned out to be a big thing after all.

A lot of Christians don’t like the thought of being a bit player.  But as far as Jesus was concerned, in the Kingdom, there really isn’t any such thing:

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  (Luke 16:10  NKJV)

If we look at how the Living Bible translates that verse, we see something very interesting:

For unless you are honest in small matters, you won’t be in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.  (Luke 16:10  TLB)

If you don’t take care behind the scenes in your service to the Lord, you’re essentially cheating Him, and the thing you want the most—to be in the forefront—will elude you.

The second thing Tychicus was asked to do was to pass along some information about Paul’s present state.  This was an important thing to tend to.  No doubt the Ephesians were worried about Paul, and it was up to Tychicus to allay those fears; to encourage the people in the Ephesian church.  This is what brotherly love is all about!  The Ephesians were concerned about Paul, Paul was concerned about the Ephesians, and it was on Tychicus’ shoulders to make sure both parties were comforted and encouraged.

Would people who know you call you an encourager?  Do you take the time to encourage others, particularly other believers?  A word of encouragement can make a person’s day.  Let’s face it, the world is a cold, uncaring place, full of people who don’t think twice about you unless they’re thinking of ways to take advantage of you!  Take time to encourage others!

Third mention

Tychicus, our much-loved brother, will tell you how I am getting along. He is a hard worker and serves the Lord with me.  I have sent him on this special trip just to see how you are and to comfort and encourage you.  I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and much-loved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will give you all the latest news.  (Colossians 4:7—9  TLB)

From verse 7 to the end of chapter 4, we have a list of bit players.  These were all real people; they were remarkable people.  These people were first century Christians who lived in very pagan world yet remained faithful to Christ and the Gospel.

We could subtitle this group of verses “the camaraderie of Christians” because these people all loved the Lord, loved and respected each other, and worked together to advance the Gospel.  They were all independent members of the body of Christ, yet were consumed with a common passion to serve the Lord and that’s what bound them together.  Paul gives us insight into the character and spirit of these men:  they were faithful (verse 7); full of love (verse 9); practiced forgiveness (verse 10); practiced prayer and devotion (verse 12); and full of zeal (verse 13).  They were called (verse 17); sent (verse 8); they were deacons (verse 12); and they were willing to risk their very freedom for the cause of the Gospel (verse 10).

What’s interesting is that this is a very disparate group of men.  Some were physicians, preachers, givers, messengers, servants, but they were all sufferers and pray-ers.

Tychicus was part of that group.    He was the messenger carrying this letter as well as a verbal report.  Some think he was actually the pastor of the church in Ephesus.  That may or may not have been the case, but he was certainly a close friend of Paul’s whom Paul could depend on.  Paul was not the loner some think he was.  He was close to few, and Tychicus was one.  The relationship between them was based on their relationship with Christ.  They were both “in Christ,” and therefore had a common salvation and a common task.

They say a person is known by the company he keeps.  Tychicus was part of Paul’s “inner circle”; his “right-hand-man”; his “go-to guy.”  What does that say about Tychicus?  We all know Paul.  We should know Tychicus.

Fourth mention

I am planning to send either Artemas or Tychicus to you. As soon as one of them arrives, please try to meet me at Nicopolis as quickly as you can, for I have decided to stay there for the winter.   (Titus 3:12  TLB)

By now, Paul is an old man.  After all he had been through, no wonder he wanted to spend the winter in a warm place!  But we see that faithful Tychicus was still with him.  We have no idea about Artemas was.  This is his only mention in the New Testament.  He’s not even a bit player; he’s a walk on!

After all those years and ups and downs, Tychicus was still working with Paul; toiling away in the background.  This leads us to his final mention.

Fifth mention

 Please come as soon as you can, for Demas has left me. He loved the good things of this life and went to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.  Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for I need him.  (Tychicus is gone too, as I sent him to Ephesus.)  (2 Timothy 4:9—12  TLB)

The end was near for Paul these verses are a little melancholy.  He’s in prison, he’s cold, and wants some reading material, and he’s lonely.  His “inner circle” has all but left him.  Some left for the wrong reasons.   Demas, presumably, couldn’t take the heat and left Paul for a better life in the world.  Crescens, of whom nothing is known, was off to Galatia, probably preaching, and Titus was off doing ministry work in Dalmatia.  Dr. Luke, Paul’s friend and physician, has stayed with him, caring for him.

And here Tychicus is mentioned once again.  He’s not with Paul because Paul sent him back to Ephesus.  As was mentioned earlier, some scholars think Tychicus was the pastor of the church at Ephesus.  If he was not, he certainly had a close relationship with that congregation.  It was important for Paul that Tychicus not be stuck in Rome with him indefinitely.  There was work to be done in Ephesus and since Paul couldn’t be there, he sent the next best preacher he could think of:  Tychicus.

This man, of whom so little is known, was a true, loyal friend of Paul’s, of the church, and of Jesus Christ.  He was brave, thoughtful, considerate, spiritual, intellectual, and hard working.  Tychicus had a “stick-to-it” quality missing in many believers.  He stuck with Paul through the years.  He continued the work of the ministry (and that of a bit player) to which he had been called.  Paul got the credit, yet we know about Paul due in large part to the behind-the-scenes work of Tychicus.  God used this unassuming man and we are blessed today because of the faithfulness of this bit player of Scripture.

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