“The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain” (2 Tim. 1:16).
In a verse preceding this one, Paul challenged Timothy to “be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner…” (v. 8). Following this challenge, Paul pointed out those in Asia Minor who were ashamed of Paul, the Lord’s prisoner: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (v. 15). After reminding Timothy of this dark picture of unfaithfulness, Paul brought forward a shining example of loyalty and an exception to those in Asia: Onesiphorus, a man who “was not ashamed” of Paul or his chain.
Onesiphorus is an important role model for the Church. Many are ashamed of Paul today. They do not want to associate with him or the message that Christ committed to him. Some choose to follow the prevailing doctrine of their denomination and follow Peter instead of Paul. However, Onesiphorus is an encouragement for us to follow his example of courage and resolve to stand with the Apostle Paul. This is God’s will.
“But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and
found me” (2 Tim. 1:17).
Onesiphorus made it his business to find Paul in Rome. Believers were being falsely accused, tried, and tortured to death in Rome at that time but, without thinking of himself, and not being ashamed of Paul, Onesiphorus risked his life, diligently looking high and low in one prison-barracks after another until he found Paul.
Those in Asia who turned from Paul exemplified the qualities that Paul warned Timothy against: fear and shame. In contrast, Onesiphorus demonstrated the characteristics that Paul commended to Timothy and the Body of Christ: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (v. 7).
“The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that
day…” (2 Tim. 1:18).
Paul, as a prisoner on death row, was not able to repay his friend for all his gracious help. But the Lord could. And because of the mercy Onesiphorus had shown him, Paul requested that the Lord show Onesiphorus mercy and reward him “in that day,” the day of the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Onesiphorus is a reminder that, in that day, one will be duly rewarded for faithfulness and an unashamed stand for the message of grace that Christ committed to the Apostle Paul.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.