Onesiphorus: 4 things
First, let's consider some historical background to the story. After the New Testament Church
was founded on the day of Pentecost, the Church of God began to grow for the next 30 years all
throughout Asia Minor and Europe. The true Church of God grew, but so did a lot of false
The term “Christian,” then as today, covers both the true and the false. Only God really knows
who is the true and who is the false church, who is the true and the false Christian. Nero had
become Emperor of the Roman Empire and he began persecuting all those who called
themselves “Christians.” In 64 AD Nero burned down Rome, but blamed it on the Christians.
And so everyone who was even suspected of being a Christian was arrested and many became
martyrs for their believes.
It was about that time that Paul, who went about the country side preaching the Gospel of the
death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, was arrested and thrown into prison. Paul was no ordinary
prisoner. He was one of the leaders of this Christian movement and so, even visiting Paul in jail,
was dangerous and not the smartest thing to do. And so, against this backdrop, let's look at the
two scripture that mention Onesiphorus which are in II Timothy.
II Timothy 1:16-18 and II Timothy 4:19.
Dedicated, Persevering, Faithful, An over-comer
A person who sets and reaches goals
One who goes above that which is required
One who gave of his life and time sharing himself with others
One who visits those in prison or in bonds of whatever kind
One who ministers
One who humbles himself
One who is not afraid to do menial work
One who is willing to take a risk for his beliefs.
Onesiphorus was profitable, a profit-bearer, a good example for all of us.
The text opens up with while Paul is in a Roman prison awaiting death is exhorting Timothy with an example on how to help those in need with something that is real personal to him. Here he reminds Timothy of teh experienced he went thru. He is saying in verse 15, "you know, this that all those in Asia have turned away from me." While Paule was spreading the gospel in Asia, he was locked up and the Christians their turned thier back on him. How heart wrenching it was for Paul that people who he probable ministered and served with to have them turn their back on him when things got tough. Has anybody ever been there before? When things in your life got tough and those who you thought would hang in there with you left you out there! It is was probably more painful since it was church folk. It was Church folk who left Paul. My beloved it was the same for you. YOu hve been adandoned by church folk. YOur co-laborer who have answered the call and cause for Christ were unfaithful in your time of need. As Christians it is not only important to be faithful to each other especially when one of us in going thru!. I should be able to count on my christian brothers and sisters when things get rough for me. But this is not true for Paul either. here is the text I believe Paul singles out two that suprised him the most who left him,Phygellus and Hermogenes when he was arrested in Rome. IThese two brothers were probably the type to tell Paul "i got your back". If we look at these Christians brothers by name, we know Paul would be in trouble. Phygellus means "a little fugitive" and Hermogenes means born lucky. Luck literally ran out on him. They were there when times were good. But as believeres we don't count on luck. We depend on faith and the faithful. Even though the people you thought would be there for you weren't there, God always has someone there to help you in your time of need. Paul was so appreciative of the the help he got when nobody else was around prays in v. 16, "Lord grant mercy on the household of Onesiphorus". Here we are introduced to a new character that is in full contrast to the others mentioned, Onesiphorus. Paul asks the Lord to have mercy not only on this brother but on his whole household. Don't you know that when you are good to people especially the ones in need they want to see everything and everybody associateed with you blessed. I cant count how many times I was shown kindness because my daddy's relationship with people. Biblically, we can look at the life of Methphiboseth. David blessed him because of who his daddy was to David. Paul ask the Lord to give Onesiphorus' household mercy for what he did for him. This is what he did for Paul that you and I should do for other people in need. Here is the first of the four things that Onesiphorus did for Paul while he was locked up. Paul says inverse 16b that "he often refreshed me". This word means to cool off or refresh ones spirit or recover a breath, to revive. It is always a blessing in your time of need that you have somebody in your life that has the ability to cool you off and not further piss you off! It is a blessing to have someone who is a breath of fresh air rather than someone who sucks the life out of you. It is great to have somebody who revives your spirit rather than kills it. This is who Onesiphorus was to Paul. God is challenging us to be a personal revival to those in bondage.
Next, Paul tells us thru the faithfulness of Onesiphorus in to help those in need: dont beashamed by peoples circumstances. In verse 16b says that " and he was not ashamed of my chain." Paul was saying that Onesiphorus was not embarassed by the fact that Paul was locked up for the Gospel. Onesiphorus didn't say I can't mess with this brother because he got locked up. This is what the others did. But Onesiphorus instead of having shame had compassion for his brother in the Lord and we have to do the same for other in the bondage. We can't look down our noses because other Christians are worse off than we are. But remember Paul was locked up for spreading the Gospel in area that didn't want to hear it. He served in a tough area and got in trouble for it. This is a problem in the modern day church. When ministry gets hard, some Christians can't handle it. We cant take the suffering and sacrifice that goes with serving the Lord. But will take a plague for raising money without help those in need by getting our hands dirty. Onesiphorus was not ashamed of Paul's chains. He embraced his brother in pain. When was the last time you embraced somebody in pain? My beloved, when we does this we become Christ like when Jesus says come unto me them that labor and heavy laden, I will give you rest! tell your neighbor, Don't be ashamed of me, bless me!
The next thing Paul tells us about Onesiphorus that will enable us to help others in need effectivly is to seek them out diligently. Paul says in v. 17 that when he arrived in Rome, Onesiphorus sought him out diliigently and found me". This means that OOnesiphorus must have known Paul was in Rome but didnot know exactly where. Scholars suggest because of the threat that Paul was posed to the Roman empire, they may have tried to hide him. Bu tthis did not stop Onesiphorus. He went on a one man search mission to find Paul who was in need of a friend who cared. my beloved, we have to have the spirit of Onesiphorus and be diligent in seeking those who are lost and in need. As Baptist, we need to carry out what we recite in our church convenant in the 4th paragraph: to seek the salvation of our kindred and aquitences so you can help. My beloved we cant get to lazy waiting for the needy to come to us but we have to go to them. Seek'em out! Onesiphorus did not rest until he found Paul. We can't rest until we find somebody in need to serve! Seek'em out!! Seek out the sinner etc...
Paul goes onto pray again for Onesiphorus in verse 18. When you are good to people their prayers will always be with you. Paul prays again , "Lord grant to him that hemayfind mercy from that Day". Day here is the day of judment. There will be aday when the Lord is going judge the world and sen his wrath. Paul is sayingcover him Lord he isone of the good ones.Then he goes on to tell Timothyt more qobut Onesiphorus. He says to Timothy, "you know the many things he minsitered to me in Ephesus.You know how much he did for me when I was locked up before. Church helping those in need is not a one time thing but it is an ongoing process. That is why we have to have surpassing service. We have to go above and beyond the call of duty. Look at this. In orderfor Onesiphorus to help Paul in many things, he ahad to have different means to help him. Beloved, you are going to have to do different things usings different resources. Jesus didn't have only one way to bless people. He was not just a healer. He did what it took to meet the need. And it is thru the power of Christ that we can use the power and the creativity of the Holy Spirit to meet peoples needs. The text says that Timothy knew what Onesiphorus did well. My beloved, God knows well of what you do for those in need. It don't matter if anyone else doesnt know, the Lord knows and he wil reward you.