"So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus will tell you everything. He is a dear brother and a faithful minister in the Lord. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are, and to encourage your hearts." - Ephesians 6:21-22, NRSV
He is mentioned five times in the Bible, once as a companion of Paul and four times as Paul's emissary. He came from the province of Asia, according to Acts. Details of his life and ministry are fragmentary, at best.
But while he lived and committed himself to the movement of Jesus-followers, he was able to share everything about how Paul was faring and what he was doing. Even though Paul had letter-writing at his disposal, and used it with extraordinary effectiveness, Tychicus could do what media could not do: encourage the hearts of the faithful.
"Encourage hearts" is a lovely word-play, in English. Encourage has heart ("cor") right in its middle, so the phrase carries the sense "to put heart into your hearts." In the language of the New Testament, the Greek suggests "to call, up close and personal, to your hearts." Any way you read it, the verbs carry intimacy. To convey intimacy, there's no substitute for sending a message through a trusted messenger.
The media are splendid helps — Paul used cutting edge technology to extend his reach, and because he did his words reach all the way to us. But maybe they took root because Tychicus, and women and men like him, carried the Word from Paul's heart to those of the saints.
For whom might you be Tychicus, today? What encouragement could you bring?
Thank you God, for the saving message of grace, and thank you for the messengers who keep on carrying it from heart to heart. Amen.
John A. Nelson is Pastor and Teacher of Church on the Hill, UCC, in Lenox, Massachusetts.