Paul intended to send relief to Titus, who was working on the island of Crete, so that he could be free to meet him at Nicopolis. This relief was to be in the person of either Artemas or Tychicus, Tit. 3. 12. We do not know who went in the end, but we do read of further activity on the part of Tychicus, 2 Tim. 4. 12, who was sent to Ephesus, so perhaps it was Artemas who went to Crete. Whatever actually happened, the important thing to understand is that either Artemas or Tychicus must have been competent men, who could be entrusted with carrying on Titus’s important work and were prepared to make themselves available for the task.
The first time we hear about Tychicus is when the collection among Gentile assemblies for the poor saints in Jerusalem was complete, and Paul delivered it to Jerusalem. He was careful to take with him seven Gentile believers who had been associated with the gathering of the collection in Macedonia, Galatia, 1 Cor. 16. 1, and Asia. From Macedonia were ‘Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus’; from Galatia, Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus [Lystra]; and finally, from Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus, Acts 20. 4. Paul’s principal contact in Asia was Ephesus, so Tychicus was probably from that city. To be representative of the saints in such a matter would not be the prerogative of all, so Tychicus must have been well thought of by Paul and his own assembly in order to fulfill such a position.
Although we do not then hear of Tychicus for some time, he was obviously with Paul some years later during his first imprisonment in Rome, because it was Tychicus who delivered Paul’s epistles to the assemblies in Ephesus and Colosse. However, he was far more than a postman! He was commended by the apostle as a beloved brother, and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord. As well as earning this hard-won commendation, he had also shown a real interest in Paul’s welfare and was now well able to pass on all the information that they might want to know about him and his circumstances. He was also able to comfort the hearts of the saints at Ephesus and Colosse and be in a position to bring back accurate news of the saints to Paul when he knew their state, Col. 4. 7-8.
During the time of Paul’s release from imprisonment, he and Titus laboured on the island of Crete, and he had left Titus there to complete the unfinished business that they had started, as described in his Epistle to Titus. However, Paul wanted Titus to join him for the winter in Nicopolis (western Greece). Hence, he was arranging to send relief either in the person of Artemas or Tychicus, Tit. 3. 12. Which brother actually turned up we do not know. However, we do know that during his (short) second imprisonment in Rome, Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus, 2 Tim. 4. 12. Ephesus was an assembly where Tychicus had been before to deliver Paul’s epistle (see above), so Paul had no embarrassment in sending him back, so he must still have been well thought of by the assembly with which he was originally associated.
In the context of the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem, Paul had commended an unnamed brother to the Corinthians as ‘our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things’, 2 Cor. 8. 22. It might not have been Tychicus that he was referring to, but he certainly well earned such a comment, for he had been proved diligent in many things! May we too seek such commendation in the opportunities that arise for us to serve the Lord.
Tychicus’ name means ‘chance’, ‘fortuitous’ or ‘fateful’. However, it was not a matter of chance that earned him the scriptural, spiritual and suitable descriptions used of him.
All we know about this brother is that he went from Rome where Paul was imprisoned, to Galatia, 2 Tim. 4. 10. Although spoken about in the same sentence as Demas the defector, no criticism is to be attached to Crescens because he went to Galatia, indeed the sentence finished by making the same statement about Titus who went to Dalmatia. The point is that unlike Tychicus, who was sent by Paul to Ephesus, 2 Tim. 4. 12, both Crescens and Titus went to their chosen destinations as a matter of their own exercise, rather than apostolic command (see Titus). This exercise is acknowledged by the apostle without a word of censure and no doubt follows from them learning about the situation in those places.
The first we know of Erastus was when Paul ‘sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus’, Acts 19. 22. They went on before Paul who would arrive later after staying on for a while in Asia. Then, it would seem that much later on one of Paul’s last journeys, when he passed through Corinth, Erastus was with him but decided to stay behind in the city instead of continuing with him, 2 Tim. 4. 20, perhaps sensing the present spiritual need in that city. It is not known for sure that Erastus is the same one mentioned as the city treasurer of Corinth, Rom. 16. 23, but it is possible.
Trophimus was a Gentile believer from Ephesus, Acts 21. 29. We first come across him along with Tychicus as representatives of the Asian assemblies travelling with Paul in connection with the collection for poor saints in Jerusalem, Acts 20. 4. He was with Paul in Jerusalem and it was he whom the Jews mistakenly thought had been taken into the temple by Paul, Acts 21. 29. This resulted in Paul’s arrest and eventual loss of liberty.
It would seem that Trophimus accompanied Paul on his last journeys before his second imprisonment, and he fell ill at or near Miletus – a seaport some thirty miles from Ephesus – and was left there to recover, 2 Tim. 4. 20. Despite the modern-day claims of miracle healings, both Trophimus and Timothy, 1 Tim. 5. 23, knew ill health, which, if Paul had exercised a healing ministry for them, could easily have been overcome. Of course, miracles were used then as part of gospel outreach. This does not mean that God cannot answer prayers and heal believers today, but we would not expect this as part of a healing ministry.
These believers – three brethren and a sister – mentioned only once in the New Testament, seem to have been resident in Rome and in contact with the apostle Paul, who distinguishes them from ‘all the brethren’, who also sent their greetings, 2 Tim. 4. 21. Eubulus is mentioned on his own and he seems to have been especially close to Paul and Timothy, and Paul mentions them all as sending greetings to Timothy. When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he spoke about those in Rome who loved him and those who were envious of him, trying to increase his discomfort in confinement, Phil. 1. 15-16. The majority of the believers preached Christ, having been stirred up from silence by the apostle’s activity in the gospel in prison, v. 14, but some did it insincerely, v. 16. These four obviously belonged to the group of believers who loved the apostle. How sad to think that such behaviour could even be considered among Christians, let alone carried out.
Carpus was a Christian who lived at Troas, with whom Paul had left his cloak, books and parchments. Some have reasonably surmised that Paul was forced to leave these items at Troas with Carpus because of his hurried departure from the city, perhaps under arrest and on his way to Rome, 2 Tim. 4. 13. Carpus being entrusted with valuables reminds us of our responsibilities with regard to the things left with us, 2 Tim. 1. 14. These items were needed by the apostle and would bring comfort to him, so he instructs Timothy to bring them. The cloak would keep his body warm in his (possibly) subterranean prison cell, but his books and parchments would warm his heart. The parchments, being more expensive than the papyrus books, might have been copies of portions of the Old Testament, hence his ‘especially the parchments’. Given the choice of reading matter, what would we choose if space was limited? Paul had little of this world’s goods. He had already told Timothy that ‘godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content’, 1 Tim. 6. 6-8. Physical contentment was to be achieved simply by means of a cloak.
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