What do an escaped slave, a preacher, a messenger and a missionary have in common? No! This is not the opening line of a joke! It is a serious question. The answer is that these four people were all described by the apostle Paul as faithful.
Onesimus was the escaped slave. He found his way to Rome where he became a Christian. He then served Paul during his imprisonment. Paul found him faithful and sent him back home with a letter to his master, Philemon, asking that he be accepted back as a brother in Christ.
Epaphras was the preacher who planted the church in Colossae, perhaps during the two years Paul preached in Ephesus. He may also have planted the churches in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
Tychicus traveled with Paul during the last part of his third missionary journey, including Jerusalem. He then followed Paul to Rome after his arrest. Tychicus is the messenger Paul entrusted to carry his letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians. Onesimus traveled with him on this errand.
Timothy was converted to Christ on Paul’s first missionary journey. He served as a missionary with Paul beginning with the second journey and spent years in service with him, often sent to preach and teach at churches when Paul could not.
Although these four spent different amounts of time with Paul, he saw they were all faithful to Jesus. I hope that someone will someday describe you in the same way — faithful to Jesus!
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.