Senders of the epistle (4:7-9)

(the senders of the epistle)


Paul is going to send Tychicus and Onesimus with the epistle to Colosse. All my state (「我一切的事」) shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord, whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate (光景), and comfort your hearts. With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.” (4:7-9) In Ephesians, Paul sends Tychicus too to Ephesus for the same purpose: “But that you also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things, whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.” (E 6:21-22) Paul usually commends the person he sends to bring the epistle. Tychicus is a faithful minister like Paul. He is sent to both churches to comfort their hearts after they are told of Paul’s safe condition and his encouraging words.

The first time Tychicus is mentioned in NT is found in Acts 20:4, where he is named as Tychicus of Asia (亞西亞人) with a number of brothers. At that time, Paul was on his 2nd missionary journey during which he entered Macedonia twice. After the second visit to Macedonia on his 2nd journey, he departed Greece and returned to Asia through Macedonia. Tychicus and the other brothers went ahead to Troas and waited for him. He joined them from Philippi after the Passover. (Acts 19:21-22, 20:1-6)

The other places where Tychicus is mentioned besides Acts, Ephesians and Colossians are II Timothy and Titus. Paul charges Timothy in II Tim 4:12, “And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” This was another time Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus during his second imprisonment in Rome. Paul charges Titus in Titus 3:12, Paul says, “When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis, for I have determined there to winter.” Here, Paul was somewhere around Nicopolis and Titus was in Crete. Paul probably planned to have either Artemas or Tychicus take over Titus in Crete as church minister and have Titus return to Paul in Nicopolis. The timing was between Paul’s 1st and 2nd imprisonment in Rome.


Onesimus is quite an interesting person. He is not a minister, yet a “faithful and beloved brother”. And he is from the city of Colosse. The reason why Paul sends Onesimus to the church of Colosse has to do with the other Prison Epistle, Philemon. According to Philemon, Paul is trying to pacify the master-slave relationship of Philemon and Onesimus, who once fled from his master and was somehow converted in Paul’s ministry in Rome. Since the church operates in Philemon’s house (home church, Philemon 1:2) and he is also Paul’s “fellow labourer” and “partner” (Philemon 1:1 & 17), he is probably one of the ministers in the church of Colosse. Henceforth, the instruction concerning master and servant in the epistle of Colosse carries profound meaning to Philemon.