There is a good chance that you don’t know Tychicus. If you’ve read the New Testament, you’ve seen his name. But you’ve likely read it and moved on without a second thought.
Who was Tychicus? He is mentioned five times in the New Testament (Acts 20:4; Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:12; Titus 3:12). Tychicus appeared near the end of Paul’s missionary work in Ephesus and was possibly a convert from Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. If he was, then he probably witnessed the riot that Demetrius the silversmith started because Paul’s evangelism was negatively affecting his idol-making business (Acts 19).
Tychicus likely delivered several of Paul’s letters to their recipients. He delivered the letter to the Ephesians and the letter to the Colossians. He accompanied Onesimus, the former runaway slave who had been converted, when they went back to Colossae and probably carried Paul’s letter to Philemon. If this is the case, then Paul entrusted “his child,” Onesimus, to Tychicus when he returned him to Philemon. Paul must have had a tremendous amount of faith in Tychicus to handle that potentially difficult situation.
It is likely that Tychicus was Paul’s scribe for the letters to the Ephesians and Colossians. Paul would have dictated those letters to him. Perhaps they talked through portions of it, discussing the application of Trinitarian doctrine. Then Tychicus, because he delivered the letter, was probably the first person to ever preach on the book of Ephesians.
Tychicus was clearly a faithful believer who found himself at the center of much of the history of the New Testament. He was in the background for nearly every significant event of the second half of Paul’s ministry. And you’ve likely never thought about him. One of the most important people in the history of the most important institution in the world, and he’s nearly completely unknown. The British New Testament scholar E.K. Simpson wrote, “That we don’t know much about Tychicus speaks to his desire to make the Gospel known more than himself.”
We live in a culture that tends to value people who entertain us more than people who call us to holiness. Even in the church, we seek celebrities more than faithful servants. Some pastors think they are too big to fail. They are kept in the pulpit or put back in the pulpit when they have clearly disqualified themselves by their behavior. And the church suffers because of this.
This is a dangerous place for us. Blogs, social media, podcasts, and conferences have the ability to help create mini-celebrities. Fame can be seductive. Very subtly, we can become enamored of our own voices and forget the voice of the One we have been called to proclaim. But the church needs people who are utterly forgettable, people who desire to make the gospel known more so than themselves. The church needs more people like Tychicus. The church needs faithful Christians who want to make the gospel known and don’t care if they ever are. Be like Tychicus. Be forgettable.