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Journey Through Second Timothy: 1:15-18: Faithfulness of Onesiphorus

2 Timothy 1:15-18

New American Standard Bible

15 You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; 17 but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me— 18 the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day—and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.

Paul says all in Asia have turned away from him. This is the Roman province of Asia. Most likely when Paul was arrested and went to trial to Rome this could have happened. But it shows us that following Jesus is not easy, it is actually very hard and difficult. Paul earlier had told Timothy to not be ashamed and he is highlighting those who have not only become ashamed, but their actions have led to abandoning Paul and the work God was doing through him.

This should be a warning to all leaders. Pride goes before the fall. The only way we can properly navigate being called to leadership in the body of Christ is to abide in Him and pray that greater humility and faithfulness would be produced within us. Paul is giving Timothy examples of those who have fallen so that Timothy would not make the same mistakes. Most likely Paul highlights Phygelus and Hermogenes is because they were leaders and well known. But ultimately Paul’s trust is in Jesus Christ. People can be very fickle and when pressure comes through persecution, sadly some will abandon the faith and those who are representatives of Jesus. We are saved by grace, and we are kept by grace, but we have a responsibility to draw near and abide in Christ. It is by His grace that all things are accomplished and as we abide in Him, the person and work of the Holy Spirit will enable us to do all that God has called us to do.

In verse sixteen the name Onesiphorus means help-bringer. This is what this brother had become to Paul in his ministry. As Paul highlights to Timothy all those who have abandoned the aged apostle in his time of need, there was one who didn’t. Christian service and what God has called us to can be very hard and difficult. But when we find faithful people may we treasure them and may we diligently pray for them.

Paul says that he often refreshed Paul. Refreshed is the Greek word anapsycho and it means to give new life or energy to[1]. The actions of Onesiphorus had a far-reaching impact on the apostle Paul. When all were abandoning him most likely the enemy was bombarding Paul with discouragement on every side. But in the darkness of this prison cell, Paul as he reflected on what Onesiphorus had done for him was strengthened and revived. God’s grace is sufficient for all things. No matter how difficult the task or calling God has called us to, if we will trust Jesus Christ for all things He will empower and equip us for all that we need.

Onesiphorus was not only not ashamed of the chains of the apostle Paul, he searched him out when he was in Rome. Many believe from looking at these verses that Onesiphorus had paid a heavy price because of his association with the apostle Paul. Because of the increase of persecution under Nero many had abandoned Paul in his time of need. But Onesiphorus instead of worrying about the well-being of his own life and his families, his focus was on the gospel of Jesus Christ and the furtherance of God’s kingdom.

The body of Christ is made up of many different members. Not all are called to a position of leadership, but all are called to love, all are called to serve, all are called to sacrifice. Often the greatest thing we can do for those who are in leadership is to encourage them, pray for them, and stand by them. This is the testimony of Onesiphorus and our desire and goal is that our testimony would not only glorify Jesus Christ but show that in the most difficult moments we did not abandon the Lord, the faith, or those who have faithful served Him. Our world is becoming more and more anit-Christian every day. It is important in these moments and hours as we continue to move towards the return of Jesus that we hold fast to the faith we have in Christ. Those who endure to the end will be saved. It is in Christ alone that we will find the strength to endure.

Paul states in verse eighteen the phrase on that day, many believe Onesiphorus has lost his life and suffered because of his association with Paul and that day speaks of the day when he will stand before Jesus Christ. All of us will stand before Jesus in judgement. For those who are believers we will stand before Christ at the bema seat judgement (2 Cor 5:10). This is not a judgement of whether or not we are saved, it is a judgement based on the works we have accomplished, our faithfulness to God, and the rewards we will receive in His kingdom.

For those who are unbelievers they will stand before the white throne judgement (Rev 20:11-15). Those who have rejected Jesus Christ have no hope of salvation. They will still stand before Jesus in judgement and the last things they will hear before they are cast into the lake of fire is away from me I never knew you.

Paul’s prayer is that Onesiphorus because of his treatment of Paul and not abandoning Paul would be greatly rewarded by the Lord. Mercy is the Greek word eleos and means leniency and compassion shown toward offenders by a person or agency of authority; often penal-related[2]. None of us deserve the mercy of God. All of us deserve the judgement of God because of our sin. But Paul’s life was so greatly impacted by the faithfulness and graciousness of this brother that Paul prayed the Lord would show him mercy.

Faithful people are hard to find. When we are in leadership and God is working greatly, there are many who will become excited in the beginning. But the truth is that ministry is a grind. And when we find people who are faithful and are willing to embrace the grind, we must pray for them and treasure them. No one builds the kingdom of God alone. The greater the work, the more laborers are required for the work. Paul was a man that accomplished much for the kingdom of God in his life, but one thing we come to see as we study the life of Paul and all that he recorded in scripture is how many traveling companions Paul had. Timothy was a faithful man and servant of God. Paul knew this better than anyone and that is why as Paul is nearing the end of his life on this earth, he takes the time to write this letter to Timothy. Thankful by the hand of God we have this today in our bibles to not only read, but to meditate on, be encouraged by, and be transformed by the word of God.

[1] Rick Brannan, ed., Lexham Research Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Lexham Research Lexicons (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020). [2] Rick Brannan, ed., Lexham Research Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Lexham Research Lexicons (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020).

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