“But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts” (Ephesians 6:21-22).
On his third missionary journey the apostle Paul spent about three years in Ephesus (Acts 20:17, 31) “serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials” (Acts 20:19). Because of his tireless proclamation publicly and from house to house, “all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus both Jews and Gentiles” (Acts 19:10). Paul loved his brothers and sisters in Christ, and they loved him.
Therefore, it only seems fitting that Christ’s ambassador in chains purposely sent Tychicus to make all things concerning his affairs and how he was doing known to them. Tychicus’ assignment was not to “put lipstick on a pig” (i.e., misrepresent a bad situation by minimizing its severity and whitewashing it with superficial and unwarranted optimism), nor was he to be melodramatic by exaggerating a good situation as fraught with grave, yet imaginary, danger.
It appears that by the time Tychicus was sent to deliver the epistles to Ephesus (Ephesians 6:21-22) and Colossae (Colossians 4:7-8) and reunite Onesimus with his master Philemon (Colossians 4:9; Philemon 1-16), Christ’s prisoner was optimistic about being released soon and being able to leave Rome a free man (Philemon 22). The end of this trying ordeal of being imprisoned and detained because of false charges (Acts 21:27-30) appeared to be in sight, and Paul wanted to let his beloved brethren who had prayed for him to be comforted with this news.
Though Paul could never have envisioned going to Rome in the way he did, for two years he had preached the kingdom of God and taught the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence and with no one to forbid him (Acts 28:31). The circumstances around Paul’s imprisonment in Rome had been used by God’s providential hand to further the gospel (Philippians 1:12). It had encouraged most of his brethren in the Lord to speak more boldly and without fear (Philippians 1:14). Thus, there had been an increase in the preaching of Christ, and for this Paul rejoiced (Philippians 1:18). Like Tychicus, his beloved brother and fellow servant (Colossians 4:7), the Lord’s will mattered to him more than his freedom did. For him, to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21).
Few things bring greater comfort to the human heart than a behind-the-scenes reflection upon God’s providence. Shortly after his imprisonment in Jerusalem, Jesus told His loyal bondservant, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome” (Acts 23:11). Five years later as the apostle Paul sat in his own rented house in Rome (Acts 28:30) and reflected on the events which had transpired, He could see that all things—the false accusations, the imprisonments in Jerusalem and Caesarea, the dithering Roman governors Felix and Festus, the opportunity for research afforded Luke (Luke 1:1-4), the shipwreck on the Mediterranean Sea—had worked together for good. Someone far greater than he had been providentially at work on Something far greater than he, and Paul wanted the Ephesians (and us) to be comforted by this knowledge of his affairs.
Few things comfort aching and concerned hearts like the knowledge of the Sovereign God’s providential hand working all things together for good to those who love Him.