Notes on Colossians 4.7

As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information, Col 4.7 NASB.

Today’s MOST Bible verse is Col 4.7. Most Bible versions prefer translating the Greek word διάκονος as “minister” rather than its general sense, “servant.” Why is that? (A few, mostly off-versions, translate it as “deacon.”) Are they tainted by a clergy mindset, since “minister” has become an official title? Or is it simpler, considering that the third noun is σύνδουλος, which most translate as “fellow(-)servant”, and the versions prefer not to translate it a slave, to avoid “servant” twice in the same phrase? NASB doesn’t have a problem with that, however.

Of the three descriptions, Paul seems to do some word play with the first and third, using the consonants δ and λ: ἀδελφός and σύνδουλος. This lends credence to the thought that the three might have a chiastic structure, as short as it is, with attention called to the middle description, “faithful servant” (πιστὸς διάκονος). So it would be especially unfortunate that A. Ash does not comment the middle description at all (1994, 221).

H. Carson (1960, 98) takes the phrase ἐν κυρίῳ (“in the Lord”) as qualifying all three descriptions, and that is a possibility. It is certainly true that Tychicus is all that Paul says he is in the Lord. But this view leaves the last noun without a separate modifier, so it seems preferable to take it with the last noun.

If M. Weed (1971, 8) is correct that Colossians was written first, it means that Paul shortened his description of Tychicus down to two phrases in Eph 6.17. “Faithful servant” remains. Some wonder if Paul means to say that Tychicus is his servant or the Lord’s but since he leaves the description unspecified as to who is being served, it seems best not to seek greater precision. Certainly, serving the Lord entails serving one another.

Paul’s piling up of descriptions seeks to assure the Colossians that the letter carrier and news bringer is a man of sterling character and faithful service. He chooses his terms carefully. He has chosen his representative carefully. What a blessing to God’s people and to the apostle to have men such as Tychicus!

Someone has said that the greatest ability in the world is dependability, and this is true. Paul could depend on Tychicus to get the job done (Wiersbe 149).

REFERENCES: ASH, Anthony L. 1994 Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. CPNIVC. Joplin: College Press. CARSON, Herbert M. 1960 The Epistles of Paul to the Colossians and Philemon. TNTC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. WEED, Michael R. 1971 The Letters of Paul to the Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon. LWC. Austin: Sweet. WIERSBE, Warren W. 1989 The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2. Wheaton: Victor.

#colossians, #servants, #tychicus