The name Tychicus comes to us five times in Scripture. An examination of each mention gives us a picture of Christian service in the early church, which functions as an example for us today.
The first mention is in Acts 20:4, a list of Paul’s companions on his third missionary journey (AD 52–57), including “the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus.”
The second and third mentions were written during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment, perhaps AD 60 or 61. To the Colossians, Paul stated, “Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord” (Col 4:7), and to the Ephesians, “So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything” (Eph 6:21). Willing to travel hundreds of miles by boat and foot from Rome to these congregations, Tychicus was a messenger to the churches, a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow servant.
The fourth mention was to Titus in AD 64 or 65. Titus was told by Paul, “When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there” (Titus 3:12). Tychicus was one of the men that Paul, from wherever he wrote Titus, was possibly sending to Crete to free Titus to join Paul at Nicopolis, about 400 miles away from Rome, roughly halfway between Rome and Ephesus.
Written just a year or so after Titus (AD 66), the fifth and final mention of Tychicus comes in 2 Timothy in which, similar to Titus 3:12, Paul planned to replace one of his delegates (Timothy) with Tychicus: “Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus” (2 Tim 4:12). Paul was writing to Timothy in Ephesus and asking him to come to him during this second Roman imprisonment (2 Tim 4:9, 21; cf. 1:8, 16–17). Reading between the lines, Tychicus may have carried this letter or was coming later to replace Timothy for him to be able to join Paul. Either way, Tychicus, now ten years later from our first mention in Acts 20:4, is still traveling about for the sake of the churches and assisting Paul’s missionary endeavors.
Looking at the ministry of Tychicus, we can learn some lessons for ourselves today.
First, we should be enduringly faithful to the gospel. As best we know, from the dates given above, the ministry of Tychicus spanned at least the course of ten years.
Second, we should be willing to work hard for the sake of the gospel. In each reference above, Tychicus is actually or potentially traveling, going great distances for the sake of ministering to the churches by Paul’s orders. Given the frequency and length of these travels, it is not improbable that he shared in Paul’s travel sufferings to some degree, whether by shipwreck, robbers, sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, etc. (cf. 2 Cor 11:23–28).
Third, we should expect God to give us tasks that are fitted to who we are. When sent to Asia Minor to minister to various congregations, Tychicus the Asian was native to this general region. He was a welcome servant to the Jewish missionary Paul. Ironically, the name Tychicus may mean “by chance,” stemming from the Greek verb tugchanō, meaning some like “to happen,” perhaps by chance. Whether his birth was expected by his earthly parents or not, God’s plan for the ministry of Tychicus was fitted to who he was and no random matter, making him all the more effective for it.
Fourth, we should be ready to go wherever the body of Christ most needs us. While not everyone has the set of gifts and resolve that Tychicus had in serving the early churches, sometimes God moves Christians from one congregation to another to use their unique gifts to meet unique needs. Discernment is key when it comes to making such moves. “In an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Prov 11:14), and committing these plans to the Lord generally brings clarity in time (cf. Prov 16:1, 3, 9, 33).
These are some tips that we can take from Tychicus in serving as Christians today. May God give us grace as we learn from this example and serve Him all the better.