7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
(Colossians 4:7-18 NIV)
Paul wraps up his letter to the Colossian church by extending some comments to individuals within the church, and from those who are with Paul.
Paul chose Tychicus to carry the letter to the Colossian church. Tychicus was a traveling companion and fellow minister with Paul (Acts 20:4). Paul also sent Tychicus to Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:12, Ephesians 6:21). Rather than record his specific situation on paper, Paul chose to let Tychicus tell the Colossian believers what was going on and how he was doing as a political prisoner in Rome.
Also accompanying Paul was Onesimus, the runaway slave from Colossae that ended up in Rome and whom Paul had led to the Lord (Philemon 1:10). Paul also wrote and sent a letter with Tychicus to Philemon (Philemon), as Onesimus’ slave owner, pleading with him to take back Onesimus not only as a slave but now as a brother in Christ.
Paul also extends greetings on behalf of John Mark, Barnabas’ cousin (verse 10). This is significant, because Paul and Barnabas had taken John Mark on a previous journey and John Mark had left them and returned home. This was a major point of contention between Paul and Barnabas, to the point of casuing them to break friendship and part ways for a while (Acts 15:36-38). Thankfully we have this passage as well as 2 Timothy 4:11 and Philemon 1:24 to show us that Paul had reconciled with John Mark and Paul had included him in his ministry again.
Staying behind with Paul was Epaphras, the pastor of the Colossian church. Epaphras was likely headed out to the two other local city churches in Hieropolis and Laodicea before returning home to Colossae.
Paul also mentions Doctor Luke (the writer of the Gospel of Luke as well as the Book of Acts) who is with Paul, and Demas, another one of Paul’s traveling companions (verse 14). Demas would later desert Paul and leave the Gospel (2 Timothy 4:10).
Paul’s closure in mentioning all those associated with him here is a great reminder that we must minister in community. None of us is a “lone cowboy” to take on a ministry or work on our own.
May we serve the Lord in community, encouraging one another and carrying the Gospel message together to those around us, demonstrating God’s grace to all we encounter.