With no Fed Ex or postal service in the first century, letters like the one we’ve been reading (Ephesians) were carried by hand. That’s why we’re introduced to Tychicus, the courier tasked with personally delivering this letter.
Ephesians 6 21 Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you. (NIV)
Tychicus was from Asia Minor (the area around Ephesus). He travelled to Rome with Paul to support his legal case before Caesar (Acts 20:4). If Paul wrote these “prison epistles” during his two-year incarceration in Rome, it would have taken months for Tychicus to carry them the 2,000 kilometres from Rome to the little gospel communities in Ephesus and Colossae (compare Colossians 4:7).
We can only wonder what struggles Tychicus faced on that journey. Did he have companions to ensure he made it, to help keep him safe along the way? What were their names? God knows.
These people were not important enough to be recorded in the annals of Rome. But that empire fell apart a few centuries later, while the leadership of God’s anointed is still spreading across the earth today. Earth’s true ruler saw their significance, and recorded Tychicus as a dear brother and faithful servant (6:21), an encourager of the fledgling kingdom of God (6:22).
King Jesus knows and acknowledges each one who serves him. His accolades outweigh the glory of human recognition. I’d rather be a message-bearer for the kingdom of God than have all the fame in the world.
Image: The main street of Ephesus today. (Photo by Allen Browne, 2014).