Paul has been encouraging Timothy in many things at the beginning of this letter. He has affirmed Timothy’s faith, encouraged him to not be afraid and then reminded him that he has been given power, love and self-control. He then has gone on to exhort him to not be ashamed of the Gospel or of Paul being in prison. He reminds Timothy that they both share a holy calling. This Gospel is that Jesus Christ “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light” (v. 10). This past week Brandi encouraged us to entrust our lives fully to Christ. We can have the same confidence Paul was wanting Timothy to have because of the Gospel.
“You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.”
Observations-what does the passage say?
- Paul states that many have been against him in Asia.
- Phygelus and Hermogenes are names as two who turned away from him.
- Onesiphorus is identified as one who “refreshed” Paul, was not ashamed of his imprisonment, searched for him and found him in Rome.
- Paul wants Onesiphorus to have mercy from the Lord.
- This isn’t the first time Onesiphorus has helped Paul; he helped him in Ephesus.
Interpretation-what does the passage mean?
We know that many in Paul’s day turned away from him. There has always been cost involved in following Jesus and Paul demonstrates this. He states that everyone in the province of Asia deserted him. While this is likely an exaggerated statement for affect, it is clear that the majority of the people turned from him when he really needed their support and encouragement. How discouraging to not just have a few against him, but the majority! Paul demonstrates that faith has action and we need each other. Not all were called to be like Paul and preach the Gospel in such a vocal and visual way; however, the need for community and encouragement is evident here. Who knows how Onesiphorus encouraged him? It could have been by providing physically for him with food etc. or spiritually through prayer and support. It was likely a dangerous thing to be associated with one who was so vocal for the Gospel. Onesiphorus was willing to take risks and Paul desires mercy and blessings for him because of his sacrifice.
Application-how does the meaning of the passage apply to me?
Paul shows us how much he counted on the support and encouragement of others. Sometimes we think we can go it alone, that we can handle the hard things of life privately with the Lord; however, the Lord has given us the gift of fellowship with other believers not as a crutch but as a vital part of our growth in Him. We need each other! We are also called to take risks for the sake of the Gospel even when (especially when) it isn’t popular or what the majority is doing. I want to be willing to come alongside my friends and encourage them even when it is costly to me. That could mean my time, my money or any other resources I could offer. I also don’t want to be ashamed to stand up for what I believe. I may be ridiculed or rejected but I must stand for truth. This must be done with both kindness and conviction.
- Who are you coming alongside right now that needs your encouragement? What resources do have to offer?
- How can you pray for the Lord to bless those who have been a blessing to you?
- How have you been called to stand for the Gospel recently? (perhaps at work, in your neighborhood or with your friends)?
May the Lord bless your study of His Word!!
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