|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|"Unsung heroes" are those who work alone or alongside the "big name" and do all the work that helps get the job done. Their names may never be known, but a lot of Kingdom work would not get done without them. Dr. Barber gives Tychicus, Paul’s assistant, as a perfect example.|
You know the closing words of Paul, in any of his letters, should never be hurried through. There are always some beautiful nuggets there. So we want to look at verses 21 and 22. I want to entitle this “The Unsung Heroes of the Faith.” These are the people whom you might not have heard about. They are going to be rewarded just like the others you have seen and heard. Verses 21-22 read, “But that you also may know about my circumstances [Paul has just asked them to pray for him.], how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. And I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.”
I want you to look at “the beloved brother and faithful minister,” the terms Paul uses to identify the man by the name of Tychicus. Let’s back up a little bit. Ephesians has been a wonderful book. In chapter 1 we found the riches of our salvation. Verse 3 should thrill all of our hearts for we have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. Now I don’t know about you but there are a lot of days in which I am not tapping into that which is mine even though I know they are all resident in Christ Jesus. We have all the blessing in Christ Jesus. Many Christians are spending their life trying to get into a room they are already in, not realizing what they already have, who they are, whose they are and what they have.
Chapter 2 gives us the reasons of our salvation. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. We couldn’t save ourselves. God quickened us. In His love He came. By repentance and faith we have been quickened in the inner man. We have been put into eternal life. We have been given eternal life in the Lord Jesus Christ. His Spirit has come to live within us.
Chapter 3 discusses the revelation of our salvation. Paul is a converted Jew, and he is writing to converted Gentiles. He is saying, “Listen, guys, He didn’t make the Jew a Gentile and He didn’t make the Gentile a Jew. He made us all into one new man in the body of Christ.” We find that the church is called the body of Christ, made up of both Jew and Gentile, those who by repentance and faith have received the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then chapters 4, 5 and 6 cover the responsibilities of our salvation. In 4:7-10 the Apostle Paul says, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.’ (Now this expression, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)” The first thing Paul mentions is that He gave to the body different gifts according to the measure of His gift. In other words, there are many who received more gifts than others. I am just grateful that I got a piece of the pie. God cuts the pie. He is the One who determines who got the most and who got the least. But for the one who had been given much, much is required.
Then in verse 11 he says, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers [or pastor-teachers], for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” He gave gifted men to the church, but He also gave the church gifts through which they themselves might minister. What we understand from I Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and this passage in Ephesians, is the members of the body have varied functions. There are some who are out front. There are some who are behind the scenes. Whatever the assignment, we are all ministers in the body of Christ.
Whoever came up with the clergy and the laity completely perverted what the Word of God says. Every believer filled with the Spirit of God is in the ministry. Some of us have the luxury of being paid by those we minister to, but some of you have other ways of doing that. You may have a job as a plumber, or an electrician, or maybe even a doctor. Whatever you are, God will use that to fund the ministry He has given to you. We are all in the ministry. We are all ministers, and we are all gifted differently. Some are out front and some are not. That doesn’t matter. When Christ is getting His work done, it doesn’t matter who gets the credit as long as Jesus gets the glory. That is the key. The picture of the body is the picture of the organs in our physical body. None of them are being selfish so the body can be healthy and be about what it is supposed to be about.
If we go back to our text we see a man who was not out front. The Apostle Paul was the one out front. He was one of the gifted men given to the body. But around this gifted man were many other gifted people who came alongside to assist him and to do a lot of the things he asked them to do, never with any recognition. They never got a pat on the back. Periodically he would mention their name but other than that they were the un-sung heroes of the faith that you will find throughout God’s Word.
In the book of Philippians there was Epaphroditus. Remember John Mark? He and Paul had a little rift on one of Paul’s missionary journeys, but Paul called him back later. Then you have Demas who loved the present world and moved away from the work of the ministry. There are a lot of these unsung heroes of the faith, particularly those assigned to Paul. They are not going to get recognition. Paul is. But they are just as important to the ministry as the Apostle Paul himself.
We live in a star-studded world. If you are not a somebody, you are a nobody. There is no in between. That is not the way it is in the body of Christ. Many of you have gifts that nobody will ever see function, but you are just as important as the people who are out front. One day when the rewards are given out we are going to be surprised by who are first in line. They may not be the people we thought they were going to be. It doesn’t matter who is out in front as long as each of us are loving God and serving Him out of the gifts that God has given to us. Because when the job gets done it is not man’s work anyway. It is God’s work, and He will get the glory for all of that.
Tychicus was the “Joshua” behind Paul. Do you realize that for 40 years all Joshua did was say “Yes” to Moses. That is a real good job. “What do you do?” “I do whatever Moses wants me to do.” “Come on, what else do you do?” “I do whatever Moses tells me to do.” “How long have you been doing this job?” “Forty years.” That is real thrilling. But behind every person who is out in front, there are many you may never see or hear but they are just as important to God as the people who are the most visible.
Let’s look at Tychicus and see what Paul has to say about him. There are three things that he calls him. Two of them are in this passage and one is in Colossians 4:7. To me this helps us understand how the people who are the unsung heroes work alongside the heroes of the faith and how the work of the ministry gets done in the New Testament. Verse 21 says, “Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister.” First of all, he is a beloved brother. The term “brother” immediately casts the idea of a family. Some of you may have brothers that you might want to think about today. I don’t happen to have one. I have a sister.
You may have a brother. They tell me brothers are very close. They share a lot in common. There is kinship, a blood tie. There is something about being a brother. There is something about being in a family. We know Paul is not talking about a natural, physical brother. He is talking about a spiritual brother.
You may ask, “How in the world can I find brothers in the family of God? Do you mean when I receive Jesus into my heart I become a part of a huge family? Do you mean if somebody else has received Christ, he is a brother or she is a sister?” Yes. The family of God is wonderful. By the way, the family of God is a functional family. Thank God He took us out of the dysfunctional family of Adam and put us into the functional family of the Lord Jesus Christ, into eternal life. He put us into the kingdom of Jesus Christ. So we are a part of the family, a spiritual family, and I have many spiritual brothers just like Paul.
The key to the whole thing is not the fact that he is a spiritual brother, but that he is a beloved brother. The term beloved is a term of endearment. It is someone that you love, but it also someone that you are deeply devoted to. You don’t call everybody “beloved.” Beloved means they have struck something in your heart. There is a common cord there. There is a bond of love, a bond of faith that draws you together. In this picture of being beloved, it is not just from me to you. If you were beloved to me, then I would be beloved to you. In other words, Tychicus could say of Paul that he was a beloved brother, just like Paul says of Tychicus that he is a beloved brother. Why? Because they were devoted to each other. The term “beloved” is a two-way street. There is a flip side to that. You are not going to call somebody who doesn’t love you, somebody you don’t trust, somebody you don’t share things in common with beloved. But when you find somebody who loves you that way and you can love them that way, the two of you to each other are beloved.
I was thinking about this beloved brother. That is someone who is part of the family, someone who has been alongside me, Paul says, to assist me in the tasks that are absolutely unsung, the tasks of doing the things I can’t do, the “dirty work” of getting the work of Christ done. Here is a man who has come alongside. I call him a beloved brother. I was thinking about this as I was studying it. How in the world can you put relationships together like that? You know that is incredible. You don’t go out and find somebody like this. God has to draw you together. When you call somebody beloved, you know something about them. There is a bond in your heart, in your love for God, in your faith towards God, in your purposes that you have to do His work and to let Christ do His own work through you. That is when you say, beloved brother. There are people out front, but how we need the people who are coming alongside, the people we can call beloved brothers, people who love the work just like we love it, but are gifted differently, people who are willing to do the work and never take any kind of applause for it, people who are willing to go behind the scenes so His work might be done through the body called the church and nobody ever knows what they do just. How in the world do you find people like that?
The term “beloved” is only found twice in the book of Ephesians. I like the order in which it is found and I like the way in which it is found. I think it draws a picture—at least it does for me. Look back in 5:1. How do you qualify to be a beloved brother, especially in the language we are understanding in Ephesians 6? In Ephesians 5:1, notice what Paul says: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” What does that say? It is not simply saying that you are beloved of God. Yes, you’re that, too. Paul has spent a lot of time telling us that. But it also means you love God. You are bonded together. His purposes have become your purposes. All you want is to love Him. Therefore, Paul can say you are a beloved child. You are not just a child. You are a beloved child.
Tychicus did not wake up one morning and say, “You know, I think I’ll be a beloved brother to Paul.” Tychicus woke up one morning and said, “You know, I want to be beloved by God Himself. I want to love Him. I want to be called a beloved child. I want to surrender to Him. I want to devote my life to Him. I want to devote my life to His work.” Then God said, “Hey, here is Tychicus, and he loves Me. He loves My work. Here is Paul, and he loves Me and My work. I think I will put them together. Tychicus, you do what Paul wants you to do. He is out front. You are behind. The two of you work together so the work of Christ can get done.”
What a picture the church could be! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a whole church filled with people who want nothing but to serve Christ and to see His work done in and through them? Then you could begin to filter down and refine the gifts. “Let me see, oh, serving. There are 150 people with the gifts of serving. Will you do this, this, this and this?” “Oh yes.” “And here is mercy. You all need to work together.”
You are probably saying, “You are always out front. You get all the credit. If the church grows, you get the credit.” That is right, but if it falls, I get the blame. It goes both ways. It doesn’t matter who is out front. Behind the people who are out front are hundreds of people you may never know about. They are just as effective as the person who is visible.
When we get to heaven one day and the rewards are passed out, Tychicus is going to be blessed every bit as much as Paul is, because his heart was the same. His heart was to devote himself to God and to devote himself to God’s work. Therefore, the two of them could be matched together.
In John 21 after Simon Peter had denied the Lord Jesus three times he said, “I am going fishing. I am sick and tired of all this.” There is no record of his repentance. There is no record of him being able to deal with the fact that he denied Jesus three times. They went out fishing and the Lord Jesus came to them but they didn’t recognize Him. Do you know why? Because they were not looking for Him. Jesus said, “Children.” I love the way He does that. He said, “Children, you haven’t got any fish, have you?” He knew. They said, “You are right. We have caught nothing.” I can see Simon Peter now. “Who is this guy over here irritating us?” About that time He says, “Throw the nets on the other side of the boat.” John, the beloved disciple, says, “It’s the Lord.” After they caught all those fish, Peter said, “You’re kidding me. I can’t see Him.” He threw his coat on, hopped in the water and swam to Jesus. He couldn’t wait to get to Him.
Jesus was standing there on the shore by a fire. They had breakfast and Jesus sat down with them. The whole chapter is for Simon Peter’s benefit. He sat down with them and said, “Simon, do you love me?” He used the word that means, “Are you absolutely sold out, totally committed to Me, regardless of feelings and emotions? Have you come to the point that you are willing to do that?” Simon Peter said, “Oh, you are the best friend I have ever had. I cherish you. I really like being with you.” Peter used a different word. Jesus said, “Feed My sheep.” Then using the same word the second time He said, “Simon, do you love Me?” Simon said back to Him the same thing, and Jesus said, “Tend My lambs.” The third time Jesus got down on his level and said, “Do you really love Me like a friend?” And by this time Peter was a little upset. He said, “Lord, You now everything. I can’t lie to you. You know that I love you.” He said, “Feed My sheep.” Do you know what? Jesus never asked him if he loved sheep. He never asked him if he loved to minister. He asked him, “Do you love Me?” What makes a beloved brother is not that you love the Apostle Paul or somebody who is out front. The key is do you love Christ? If they love Christ and you love Christ, and both of you love His work, then you become a beloved brother and you can come alongside and you can do the things that nobody will ever recognize. Be filled with joy because the work of Christ is getting done no matter who is out front taking the credit. God will get the glory ultimately. That’s a beloved brother.
When you all love Christ and only want His work to be done, you can be beloved brothers to one another. It really doesn’t matter who is out front as long as the work gets done. Tychicus was a beloved brother. Secondly, not only was he a beloved brother, he was a faithful minister. The word for “faithful” there is pistos. It is the word that means somebody who can be depended upon. When you’ve got somebody who loves God like you do, somebody who wants to see God’s work done like you want to see it and he is a beloved brother, he becomes a faithful servant. That is somebody you can trust, somebody you don’t have to run along behind to make sure they are saying the right thing. They are loyal. They are people you can put your confidence in.
Second Timothy 4:12 gives us a clue about this. Timothy was assigned the ministry to the church at Ephesus. The Apostle Paul wanted him to come to him so in 4:12 of II Timothy Paul says, “But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.” Then Paul tells Timothy to come as fast as he can. “I want you here. I am sending a replacement to you. The person that I can trust with the responsibility is the man Tychicus. He is a beloved brother. Because he is a beloved brother, we have solved all of his love for God, his devotion to God. He is a man in whom you can put your trust. He is a man in whom you can put your confidence. He is a faithful minister.”
In Titus 3:12, he does the same thing for him. On the island of Crete, Paul says, “I want you to come to me. I am sending somebody as your replacement.” Verse 12 says, “When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis.” In other words, I want you with me so I am sending you a replacement. Who would you pick? Who would go? Who would take the long journey? Who would go over and do somebody else’s work? Who would go over and be trustworthy and you could put your confidence in? Somebody who is a beloved brother. See? When your heart is devoted that way, when all you want is what God is doing, not what man can do, then you become a faithful minister, somebody who can be trustworthy, somebody in whom you can put your confidence.
The term “minister” says even more about Tychicus. The term minister there is diakonos. The word literally means servant. As a matter of fact, if you take it a step further into the secular world it meant a person who was willing to wait tables. It is a person who has the heart of serving, and it doesn’t matter how much credit he gets for it.
The word “deacon” means minister, but the root of all ministry is servanthood and willingness to do whatever it takes, especially according to the gifts that God has given to you. So a person who is a faithful servant is a person you can trust, a person you can put your confidence in, a person who doesn’t mind not getting any recognition and doesn’t mind rolling up their sleeves so that the greater work of getting the Word out, the greater work of the prevailing ministry of the Word might take place. I didn’t set this up. God set this up. Thank God for people like Tychicus. I love the people who are willing to come alongside and be selfless and willing to do whatever is necessary so that God’s work might take place.
Many people in my church worry about my wife because I travel so much. They say,“You are gone all the time. How in the world does Diana put up with that?” It is by grace.Years ago Diana shared with me that she was alone in her quiet time when God put on herheart that God had given me an assignment, a calling. He said, “Diana, I am going to give you a calling, to come along beside Wayne and not gripe or complain. I am going to honor you if you do that.” Years ago, my dear sweet wife did that. Do you know what I think about Diana? She is beloved to me. She is a faithful servant. Everybody patted me on the back for a message that I had just preached, and she didn’t catch any of that. She is beloved to me.
It works in a marriage. It works in anything. You’ve got to have people who are out front, but you have other people who are behind them. If you don’t have the people behind them, then you’ve got problems in all the ministry of what God is trying to do. It’s not what man can do, but what God is seeking to do.
Tychicus was a beloved brother and a faithful minister. Thirdly look over in Colossians 4:7: “As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information.” He has called him three things: beloved brother, faithful minister and fellow bond-servant. The word is sundoulos. Sun, means together with, and doulos, means a slave. Anytime you see the word “slave” in connection with a Christian it is always a bond-servant, a love slave, one who has chosen to be a slave to the will and the ways and the Word of the Lord Jesus Himself, a bond-servant.
Paul says he is a bond-servant with me. He is saying we come out of the same heart. This is the bottom line of the whole thing. Do you want to see where Paul’s heart is? Look in Acts 20:24: “‘But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, [here is a bond-servant] in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received [not achieved] from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” Paul is saying, “I want everything about me to bring testimony to the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ, both living in me and motivating me to do what I do. I want my life to count for Christ.” He says, “Tychicus is a fellow bond-servant. He has the same attitude I have. We share the same heart.”
The unsung heroes of the faith are the people we don’t know about. You can go through Paul’s letters and pick out the people who helped him. That would be a wonderful study. Just write out what Paul says about them. These are the people who said, “I believe in what you are doing. I believe it is for the same God I love. I believe it is His work in you, and I believe God has led me with my gift to come along beside you. I am going to do everything I can possibly do. If I am never known, that is okay. I will do whatever it costs me so that Christ’s work might be done.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everybody said, “God, that is all I want in my life,” and we began to team together, join hands as beloved brothers and sister, confident in one another, never having to be suspicious of what somebody says behind your back, never having to be suspicious of somebody’s agenda, just getting together and doing what God has told us to do and that He might receive the glory.
Tychicus was a beloved brother. Paul is tickled to death to have him on his team. Paul said, “I am going to send him to you. I will send him over there and whatever else I’ve got to do, he will do it because he is a man I can trust. He is a man who is not in it for himself, and he knows I am not either. All we want is Jesus to be glorified in the midst of it. The unsung heroes of the faith. God give us congregations full of them and we will see Jesus be glorified because of it.