Now that you may also know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful deacon in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him on to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
     Peace to the brethren and love with faith, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
     Grace be with all who love the Lord Jesus Christ with love undying. - Ephesians 6:21-24/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne

Carrying a message

The messenger, Tychicus, is fully involved in the proclamation of the message he carries, writes Paul. PICTURE: Ben White/Unsplash


"It is not merely the 'ambassador' who is a bearer of Good News. The one carrying the letter of this 'ambassador' is fully involved in the proclamation - he too, as one sent, as one delegated with a task - to tell the letter’s recipients 'everything they need to know', 'encouraging their hearts'.

A similar reference to Tychicus is also found in the closing of the letter to the Colossians (4:7-8). In II Timothy 4:12, Paul explains that he has sent [APESTEILA] Tychicus to Ephesus. This may be a cross-reference to this messenger’s involvement with Paul’s letter writing that led some later editor to interpolate “in Ephesus” [EN EPHESO] at the beginning of the letter. But unlike Corinthians in which Paul is obviously writing as part of an ongoing correspondence – discussing the church’s responses to his visit and answering their questions and querying their judgements – here we are presented with a general broadcast that is sent along with Tychicus, Paul’s messenger.

Other letters at points read like the account of one-end of a two-way conversation, and our commentary is then likened to what a person might write upon hearing that end of the telephone conversation. But here, as we attend to what is written, we may well find that we are personally at “the other end” of the conversation. But as we reckon with this it is well to keep in mind that the letter is written to all those believing in Christ Jesus. It is personal and it is certainly that but not in the sense of a communication the contents of which are to be kept “private”. 

Paul also seems to have functioned as master of this servant. Admittedly this “sent” [PEMPO] reads here as something other than the “sent” that gives us the name apostle [ie ASPOTELLO]. However the II Timothy record has APESTEILA. Paul refers to himself as APOSTOLOS (1:1) and this may refer back to the sending of him and Barnabas by the church at Antioch [sent out – EKPEMPHTHENTES], which, in time, under the leading of the Spirit [Acts 13:4] would see Paul confirmed in his [apostolic] role at the Council of Jerusalem [Acts 15:22], and then also at Ephesus [Acts 19:6]. In these terms, Luke has told us that Paul, with the baptism of the disciples of John the Baptist in the name of Jesus, was blessed by God’s Spirit just like Peter had experienced at the home of the Roman centurion, Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48]. These events were further endorsements of the preaching of Jesus’ apostles in Jerusalem on the day of Pentacost (Acts 2:1-13).

It may seem rather obscure to conclude discussion of this letter by reference to the two Greek words for “sent” – APOSTELLO and PEMPO. What we can say is that these two words are closely related and, at times, appear to be interchangeable as in the differences to be detected by comparing Ephesians 6:22 with Colossians 4:7-8 [both PEMPO] and II Timothy 4:12 [APOSTELLO]. What we can say is that the terms are used with care in order to differentiate without presumption – and it is by no means to diminish the standing of the one sent [PEMPO as in Acts 13:4 – the commission of the church at Antioch to Paul and Barnabas] – “separate them for the work to which I have called them” are words of a command to the church ascribed to Jesus Himself.

Those whom Jesus had sent - that is, His apostles residing at Jerusalem - added Silas and Judas to the team of Paul and Barnabas to confirm their decree concerning full membership of the Gentile believers in the Good News. Presumably then, it was not merely the message of Paul and Barnabas that was confirmed, and the united voice of the 12 to the church at Antioch was “we have apostled Judas and Silas to accompany these two beloved brothers who have risked their lives for the Good News". The implication is that the message is as much that of Jesus’ first apostles and of those they then send, as it is from Paul and Barnabas. In time the message is fully associated with the work of Tychicus as well, as he, Paul’s loyal messenger and friend, took this letter to those who would hear its Good News.

It is not merely the “ambassador” who is a bearer of Good News. The one carrying the letter of this “ambassador” is fully involved in the proclamation - he too, as one sent, as one delegated with a task - to tell the letter’s recipients “everything they need to know”, “encouraging their hearts”.