Friday, 16 March 2018
The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day—and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus. 2 Timothy 1:18
As noted in verse 16, the words of Paul are taken by some that Onesiphorus was dead at this point, and so Paul is actually making a prayer for the dead. This is the Roman Catholic opinion which is used to justify praying for the dead and the like. Others disagree and state that this verse shows that he is alive and simply not with his household at the time. Thus, the doctrine of praying for the dead cannot be found here.
Regardless of which is true, using this one verse to build an entire doctrine of praying for the dead is not wise. The words could merely be Paul’s way of saying something in writing that expresses his great appreciation for the efforts of Onesiphorus. One might write to another about Paulinus Maximus and say, “The Lord grant him mercy that he may stumble upon a treasure chest of gold for all he has done to help me.” The meaning would carry the same intent of Paul’s words now. Understanding this, Paul begins the verse by saying, “The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day.”
The more unusual aspect of this isn’t whether he is speaking about someone who is alive or who is dead. Rather, it is the mentioning of “the Lord” twice in one verse. What is probably the case for doing this is the highlighting of the action to be taken. The psalms will do this by repeating the word Lord in one verse after another. It then is a way of showing the all-encompassing hand of the Lord, from beginning to end, in what is being relayed.
The words “in that Day,” are speaking of when the saints stand before the Bema seat of Christ to receive judgment for things done in the body (see 1 Corinthians 3:8-15 & 2 Corinthians 5:9, 10). Some scholars speak of “that Day” as the great white throne judgment found in Revelation. That is not the case. Believers in Christ will not be judged for salvation or condemnation which is found in that scene. Instead, they will be judged for rewards and losses as is noted in the letters to the Corinthians.
After this, Paul takes the time to remind Timothy of the marvelous care that Onesiphorus had provided to him, even before coming to Rome. He says, “and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.” Onesiphorus was a faithful soul all along. He was there to minister to Paul at Ephesus, and he followed through with that same care in Rome. As a note, some scholars see this as care for Paul after Onesiphorus had left Rome, meaning he tended to things requested to be done upon his return. This is explained by Paul having written first about Rome and then about Ephesus. Either way, Onesiphorus was a faithful guy in Paul’s times of need.
Life application: How great is the burden you are willing to bear for others? Are you actually willing to go out of your way to help someone when it may inconvenience you a bit? We get so caught up in time schedules, anticipated projects, lunch engagements, and the like, that we often forget that people’s needs may be a bit more important than getting home to watch a football game. Keep your priorities straight, and use Onesiphorus as an example of how you can be considered a faithful friend as well.
Lord God, there are some folks in the Bible who are mentioned just once or twice, but we can learn so much from what we read about them. They have been remembered for zealous work which honors you, faithful friendships which have comforted others, longtime friends who were always there in times of need, and so on. If You highlighted them in Your word for such reasons, maybe we should consider them as examples of the type of people You are pleased with. May we be remembered by You in a similar, positive light. Amen.