There’s Paul, sure. And Peter. There’s Mary the mother of Jesus, and even Mary Magdalene. There’s Abraham and Sarah, Priscilla & Aquila, Esther & her cousin Mordecai. The Bible is full of well-known names with well-known stories – people who pop off the pages of the Bible.
But then there are names not-so-well-known:
- Like Seth (3rd son of Adam & Eve).
- Or Gomer. No, not the one the prophet Hosea married; there’s another Gomer in the Bible. Apparently Gomer is such a great name, it works for boys and girls. (See Genesis 10.2.)
- Or Tola – a judge, like Gideon and Samson, but with no heroic stories connected to him. Alas, he only gets 2 verses (Judges 10.1-2).
And there there is the Acts 20, a chapter full of names of folks we know next-to-nothing about. Names like Sopater, Aristarchus, Tychicus, and Trophimus. And Secundus.
Who are these guys? They are companions of Paul, the same Paul who, outside of Jesus, is easily the most recognizable and well-described figure in the New Testament. But these other guys; well, their partnership with Paul is about all we know about them.
For Aristarchus, we also know that he was in prison with Paul (Colossians 4.10). Tychicus is elsewhere called a dear brother and faithful servant (Ephesians 6.21, Colossians 4.7). And we learn that Trophimus got sick once (2 Timothy 4.20). Not the first thing you want mentioned about you in scripture, but hey, at least it’s something.
Which is more than we can say for Secundus. If it weren’t for Acts 20, we wouldn’t even know he exists – for this is the only place in scripture he gets a shout-out. He’s not Paul, he’s not Timothy, he’s not Titus. And apparently he doesn’t even get sick enough, like Trophimus, to get another mention.
But even though he doesn’t get a second mention, he is second. Literally. For that, in fact, is what his name translates to: Second.
Imagine getting to meet him when the roll is called up yonder. You walk up to him, and he says: I’m in the Bible. You might have missed me though. I’m only in one verse, in a list of a bunch of other names.
My name? My name is Second.
But even though he is second in ways literal and literary, I for one am glad he gets the one mention he does receive. It reminds me and you that we don’t have to be a Paul or an Esther, a Priscilla or an Aquila, to belong to the family of God. Whether many know our name, or just a few, does not matter. All that matters is that HE knows our name. And our True Father has no children who are second.
I talked recently to a friend who has served in ministry for nearly 25 years. He has faithfully served and loved people; he has silently but consistently led and pastored people in Jesus’ name. Even so, he recently had to downshift his position, moving from a lead role to more of a secondary position.
My friend is not someone who will speak before thousands. He’ll never write something that will sell books or garner attention. It’s very unlikely he’ll get even the 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol says we all have coming to us.
And so, in a way, you can say my friend is a modern-day Secundus. Mostly unnoticed, sometimes unappreciated – but still he continues serving, seeking, and sharing. And I’m confident, that even though his name is ‘Second’, his life is anything-but. For Someone does notice. Someone does see.
And that Someone has many children – none of whom are second.