Col 4:7-9 “All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.”
As he did in other letters, Paul states an obvious desire for the faithful to know his condition. Based on the things Paul focused on in his letters, I am persuaded that the state he wanted them to know about was not his physical ailment or his imprisonment. It is likely these things were already known to the brethren. What Paul called attention to was how God was with him and guided him.
It takes the grace of God to desire to share our condition with others. Transparency, for all the talk of it, is not something that our carnal nature desires. Jesus told us “that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (Joh 3:19).” This state is common to all of humanity when we are left to our own devices. Only in Christ do we find the willingness and the ability to desire for all our state to be declared.
While it is true that our state in our carnality is darkness, in Jesus Christ we find our state forever changed. In Jesus, we walk in the light as He is in the light (1Jn 1:7). We see our sin for what it is, confess our sin to Him who is faithful and just to forgive our sin (1Jn 1:9), and then declare that we are redeemed from the curse of sin and the law by the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1Pe 1:18-19). When we come to this state of life in Christ, then we can gladly share our state with others and desire it to be spread abroad that Jesus saves even sinners as we are.
Tychicus was Paul’s fellowservant. The word rendered as “fellowservant” means “a co-slave, that is, servitor or ministrant of the same master (human or divine)” according to Strong’s. Tychicus was a slave of the same Master as Paul even though he was obviously not in prison. It is a great joy to us to have beloved brothers (and sisters) in Christ who share our state and know our state. It is comforting to be associated with ministering servants whom we know to be trustworthy in the things of God.
Even though Paul’s current position was one of a prisoner, his desire and focus was on the good of the church. He was sending a trusted fellowservant of the Lord to not only let them know how he was, but to also ascertain how things were with them. Paul was not seeking sympathy from them for his estate, but rather to reassure them that they were all in the same state of being beloved of the Lord Jesus Christ. He further pointed to the grace of God which has appeared to all men to whom salvation is come (Tit 2:11) through Onesimus.
Onesimus was a run-away slave. He was a lawbreaker who had perhaps stolen from his master, Philemon, when he ran away. He had failed in every sense as a servant as laid out by Paul in chapter three of this same book. Yet, here he was coming back to the place he had run away from being heralded by Paul as a faithful and beloved brother who was returning home.
While Paul addressed the issue of Onesimus with Philemon in a separate letter (see Paul’s epistle to Philemon), he made no mention of any of that to the church. The state they needed to know about was the one Onesimus was currently in: a faithful and beloved brother of Paul and profitable servant of the Lord Jesus Christ (Phm 1:8-12). Paul was commending Onesimus to them based not on what he was, but who he had become by the grace of God.
Paul again assures the church that Tychicus and Onesimus will share “all things which are done here” in reference to his place of imprisonment. It was not the prison conditions that Paul was having reference to. Rather, I believe he was pointing to how the gospel of Christ was continuing to be taught and lives continuing to be changed even though he was effectively “behind bars.” He wanted the church there to be encouraged by knowing that the bars of men were no impediment to the moving of the Holy Spirt, and that in Christ Jesus all was well.
May God give us the grace when we consider and share our state that our focus is not on the ways that men try to hinder but rather on the power of God who is faithful to deliver!