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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

FAITHFUL ONESIPHORUS

2 Tim 1:15-18 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.

It is evident from this passage that Timothy was well aware of the many Christians in Asia that had turned away from me. That is, they had turned away from the gospel message of salvation in Christ Jesus that Paul so diligently taught. The area referred to here is Asia Minor, of which Ephesus was its capital, and in which young Timothy was currently ministering to the saints in the church founded in that city. Certainly, Timothy knew of those of whom Paul was speaking. Although we know very little of them, Timothy well knew of Phygellus and Hermogenes. It is evident that these two persons had abandoned the Savior, Jesus Christ, of whom Paul had probably introduced them to, and into whose body they were likely baptized for the remission of their sins.

It is very sad when the only knowledge the world has of a person, is that of their apostasy. Is it possible that the reason for their abandonment of the apostle Paul, Jesus Christ, and His church, was the same as that of Demas? Paul said that Demas forsook him, having loved this present world (2 Tim. 4:10). Is it possible that Phygellus and Hermogenes deserted God's calling to seek their own, not the things, which are Jesus Christ's (Phil. 2:21)? Or is it possible they feared they would alsosuffer the same fate of Paul, being imprisoned for preaching and teaching the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ? The fact that these two Christians so easily gave into the physical elements of the world, and gave up the eternal blessings found only in Christ, is an example that Christians today should never follow.

On the other hand we have another example in the lesson text, that Christians should follow. The example is of Onesiphorus, a faithful and active member of the church of Christ in Ephesus. In the lesson text, reference to this follower of Jesus is made to his house, that is, to his family. A similar reference, in the form of a salute of recognition, is also made to the household of Onesiphorus in 2 Timothy 4:19. Some think that since references were made only to his family that Onesiphorus had died before Paul wrote this letter to Timothy. However, the last verse of the lesson text seems to indicate that he was still alive. Regardless of these speculations, this faithful child of God serves as a wonderful example to Christians of all ages.

In contrast to the two false friends who turned away from Paul, nothing but good things, even though few in number, are said about Onesiphorus. This alone is a good example to Christians today. But Paul added, that he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain. A Christian should always be refreshing to all that they have the occasion to meet and serve. To refresh another, is a broadly defined characteristic that includes all kinds of sustaining and uplifting deeds of charity. It is very probable that Onesiphorus freely contributed to Paul's physical needs while he was in prison and bound in chains. But also his frequent visits to the imprisoned Paul were likely a source of refreshment.

With this as our example, Christians should go and do likewise. They should seek out those that have physical and spiritual needs and fill that need to the best of their ability. Prayers alone cannot satisfy the physical need others have for food, clothing, and assistance of all kinds. Prayers alone cannot bring salvation to those lost to the sins of this world. Rather, they need dedicated Christians to fill their physical needs, and fill their spiritual needs, by teaching them God's message of salvation. The simplest of things, such as visiting with others that are perhaps shut in due to sickness, injury, or advanced age, are often sources of refreshment, cheer, and encouragement. Faithful Onesiphorus gives us this great example.

In Paul's hour of need, Onesiphorus was there to serve. No amount of money could be paid to satisfy the debt Paul owed this faithful, dedicated Christian. For the many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, as well as those deeds of charity extended to him while imprisoned, Paul repaid with this prayer. He earnestly prayed that God would grant Onesiphorus mercy ...in that day (Judgment Day).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there can be no greater reward for your acts of refreshment given to others that are in need, while you are here on earth, than the future reward of God's mercy in that Day of Judgment.