Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.
10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
– Colossians 4:7-18 [ESV]
I once read the entire 16th chapter of Romans in a worship service. It’s a list of names. One after another. Much like this one, only even longer than this list. I wanted to make the point that people and relationships are vitally important, and that people matter. Not just people in the general sense, but specific people matter.
In the case of this list of people, the names of the various people is less obscure. You might actually recognize some of them.
Tychicus is mentioned in Acts 20:4 as one of the men who came with Paul from the Roman province of Asia to Jerusalem, to carry the offering of those believers to the needy Christians of Jerusalem and Judea. He is also mentioned in Ephesians 6:21-22. He was sent by Paul to carry the letter to both the Ephesians as well as this letter to the church in Colossae. What a privilege it would be to have such a commission.
Onesimus is Tychicus’ partner in this task. He is the runaway slave whom Paul urged Philemon to release so that he could be of help to Paul. He has apparently become quite a help to him, and given that same privilege.
Aristarchus was a Macedonian from Thessalonica (Acts 20:4). He was Paul’s travel companion, and with the apostle when the Ephesian mob seized Paul (Acts 19:29). He was also with Paul when he set sail for Rome under his Roman imprisonment (Acts 27:2). Here Paul calls him my fellow prisoner. It seems that Aristarchus had an interesting habit of being with Paul in hard times: A true friend and brother in Christ.
Mark and Barnabas…well that’s a whole other story. We’ll look at that tomorrow. For now, consider this: We may receive an employee of the month award. Perhaps we’ll be recognized for having the best yard in the neighborhood. We might have been voted most likely to succeed in high school. Or you might have been elected president of your neighborhood association. All those are great accomplishments. They should not be taken lightly. But to be named by anyone as a faithful and beloved brother or sister in Christ, or a fellow prisoner for the sake of the gospel is an even higher honor. Such a naming is the kind we should all strive for. But the highest honor is given to the One who makes all this worth it. The name of Jesus is the one at whose name every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth. Jesus Christ is Lord and I am thankful to be named as his follower.