Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 6:20b “. . .that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
“Ought” reminds us Paul believed in doing his duty. He desperately wanted to do right, and his repeating the need for boldness shows it is pressing on his mind. Jail can subdue the spirit. John the Baptist, in the gloom of a dungeon, had faltered.
Imprisonment brings special temptations to bow to the fear of men. One might be tempted to alter the message in order to alter one’s circumstances for the better. Paul, locked in the lion’s jaws, does not want to stumble. He had come to negotiate on behalf of King Jesus, and “at that moment, nothing was more desirable than strength to complete his ministry faithfully and triumphantly” (Powell).
One of the most interesting things about Paul’s prayer request is what it does not say. He was not discouraged, and did not complain. He could have requested prayers for release or better treatment or more favorable conditions in his cell, but personal comfort was nothing compared to spreading the message. He wanted prayers for the cause to which his life was totally devoted. He asks not to be set free, but that he might battle bravely in prison. He will in the dungeon fight for God, thus making his jail an arena in which he will gain further laurels for his Lord.
Eph. 6:21a “But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus. .”
The Ephesians could pray more effectively for Paul if they had more specific information about him. Thus, the Apostle, who had written very little in this epistle about his personal affairs, decided to let its bearer fill in the details for the readers.
The messenger will be Tychicus, one of many helpers at Paul’s beck and call. Paul’s one life was so huge that it required many lives to live it. It sucked into its vortex people who saw in him a man given to a cause worth being committed to.
Tychicus’ biography is short, but impressive. He helped Paul take the relief offering to Jerusalem (AC 20:4), was sent on errands by Paul (Titus 3:12) and evidently served him till Paul’s last days (2 TM 4:12). By delivering the epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians (CL 4:7), he rendered priceless service to the Church, and gained for his name immortality. His description here is full of instruction.
Eph. 6:21b “. . .a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord,. . .”
In Tychicus gentleness and firmness were balanced in perfect harmony. His tenderness made him the appropriate choice to send on a mission of mercy, to comfort the Ephesians. His trustworthiness made him the appropriate choice to send on a mission of duty, to deliver the letter. Combining love and faithfulness in perfect proportion is rare, but not too high to attain. Our goal is to pursue both perfectly, to intermingle them. Each must be present for us to live a well-rounded Christian life.
Tychicus was “a beloved brother.” He must have been a delight to know, having qualities which attracted people to him, and knit their hearts with his. His loving spirit made him especially dear, and secured for him people’s love. He had certainly captured Paul’s heart. A bond of fellowship developed between them.
Love is a wonderful glue, cementing hearts together forever. I am forever knit with my “beloved brother” Freeman Dorris, who is now in Heaven. Just before he died of cancer, I journeyed back to Gosnell, Arkansas, to visit him one last time. We talked of ultimate realities, and I told my dear friend, “As long as I live, Freeman, you will not completely die; a part of you will live on in me.” A decade later, that statement is still true. My thoughts of him remain as fresh as a delightful fragrance. I miss him, and would love to talk to him. He was “a beloved brother.”
It is infinitely better to be loved than to be popular. People who seek the latter are actually unknowingly seeking the former. Being popular is a bland counterfeit, a poor substitute, for being loved. It is better to be cherished than to be applauded, to be cared for than to be acclaimed, to be missed than to be admired. I was named for John the Baptist, and he remains a hero to me, but as years pass by, I am coming to appreciate John the Beloved more all the time. I am grateful to be known as a preacher, but more and more desire to be known as “a beloved brother.”
Tychicus was a “faithful minister in the Lord.” Unselfish and unambitious, he was willing to serve. “No task was too insignificant and no challenge was too great to accept” (Powell). He was not only willing, but also capable and reliable. He could be trusted. This was not true of all of Paul’s helpers. Some deserted Him. Having felt the sting of unfaithfulness from others, Paul experienced Proverbs 25:19, “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.” Faithfulness, though, wins the respect and trust of others. Paul believed in Tychicus, and knew he could send him anywhere on any mission.
Tychicus was “beloved” and “faithful,” mixing the two perfectly. People sometimes lean too far to one trait or the other–too much Mary or too much Martha, too much John the Beloved’s softness or too much John the Baptist’s sternness.
A “beloved brother” may be so gentle and easy-going that he has an excessive desire for everyone to like him. He is a good mixer, never reproves sin, refuses to hurt anyone or to find fault with people. This mushy sentimentality causes duty to be slighted. Needful tasks are often left undone or allowed to be done slipshod.
The “beloved brother” can also often fall into the trap of doing kindnesses from selfish motives, to impress, to earn the affection of others, to buy love more than to give love. Both motives play a part in our behavior, and must be kept in proper perspective. The desire to love must dominate over our desire to be loved.
A “faithful minister” can be legalistic, too rigid, too sharp. He often carries a big club, takes pride in bluntness, and cares little about what people think or feel. Overbearing and disagreeable, he acts like grumpiness is one of the spiritual gifts.
We must learn which side of the love-faithfulness-pendulum we lean toward by nature. Some are people-centered, others task-oriented. We need to know our natural temperament, using strengths to our full advantage, while at the same time working on our weaknesses. Temperament explains, but never excuses, behavior. We learn about ourselves in order to enhance strengths and to improve weaknesses.
To please God, co-mingle love and faithfulness. “Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary” (PS 96:6b). The Temple’s architecture pictured the fact that love and faithfulness co-mingle in God’s essence. Thus both should reside in His children. We ought to be velvet covered bricks, firm resolve wrapped in lovingkindness.
Many kings and presidents have never been worthy to bear the title, “a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord.” God help us to live in such a way that this wonderful description of Tychicus would be appropriate on our tombstone.