“Oh… a list of names in the Bible.”* eyes glaze over. Wait! There’s still some great stuff in Colossians!
Remember that Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter, and FedEx was not in existence. To get the letter to the Colossians, Paul needed trusted deliverymen. He needed men that he knew would truthfully relate what was going on as well as make sure the letter arrived safely. Paul was a mighty hero of the faith, but he wasn’t Superman. He worked with teams of people, training them in the faith so that the work would be carried on by many believers.
In these final verses Paul does more than wrap up his letter with personal greetings. We get a glimpse into his circle of encouragers and helpers at the time. These were real, ordinary people who partnered with Paul and God to see the extraordinary take place. Rarely does God call out “lone wolves” to do His bidding. Instead we work within families, churches, and other organizations. We draw strength from one another and receive confirmation of God’s direction.
Tychius seems to have a special place in Paul’s heart. He delivered this letter as well as the letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 6:21). Later on he was a relief minister for Titus (Tit. 3:12). At the end of Paul’s life, he send Tychius to care for his beloved church at Ephesus (2 Tim 4:12).
Onesimus was a runaway slave from Colossae whose story is told in the book of Philemon. In this small community, everyone probably knew what he had done. With this greeting as well as the book of Philemon, Paul is sending a message that Onesimus is more than a slave; he is a trusted brother and an equal through the transforming power of the cross.
We see underscored here both the importance of honest communication as well as having trusted Christian friends. It is imperative that we communicate news in a way that honors God, not in a gossipy or malicious way. It is important that we encourage each other with good news. And it is vital that we surround ourselves with those who will help us complete God’s purpose in our lives.
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15