Paul's Sorrowful and Cheerful Experiences. 2Ti_1:15-18
v. 15. This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
v. 16. the Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain,
v. 17. but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently and found me.
v. 18. 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.
These historical references are closely connected with the preceding section, in which Paul had emphasized the thought that Christians will gladly suffer persecution for the sake of Christ. His first statement is a complaint of the treatment accorded Him by some of those that formerly professed friendship for him: Thou knowest this, that all those in Asia have repudiated me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. Whether this repudiation practiced by the Christians of Asia was directed merely against the person of Paul, being inspired by the fear that they might be forced to share his fate if their relation to him were known, or whether it included the actual denial of the truth, is not altogether evident. It seems that the apostle had sent word to certain influential Christians of the province of Asia to give their testimony in his favor, but that these feared an evil outcome for themselves and refused to do Paul this favor. In the case of two men, whose names he mentions, it seems that this conduct had struck the apostle with special force, and a final denial of the Gospel seemed to be only a matter of time. They had been ashamed of his bonds and might be expected soon to be ashamed of his Lord.
As a splendid contrast to this selfish behavior the apostle names the conduct of one other man from Asia: May the Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, because often he refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chain, but, coming to Rome, he quickly sought me out and found me. The man whose name is here recorded on account of the shining example he gave to the Christians of all times, seems to have died meanwhile. Paul, therefore, expresses his prayer in the form of an earnest wish that God would bless his entire household for his sake. See Pro_14:26; Pro_20:7. For this man Onesiphorus had provided refreshment and comfort, both for the body and soul of Paul, for in bringing him such gifts as tended to ease the burden of his imprisonment, this good man also refreshed the spirit of the apostle. In doing so he was not ashamed of the chain which Paul bore, he did not consider it a disgrace to be known as a friend of the prisoner, he did not consider the probable danger which was connected with his visits to a Christian teacher. Rather, when his business brought him to Rome, or when he found time to make a special trip to the capital in behalf of the imprisoned apostle, he did not rest until he found out just where Paul was kept captive, in order to offer him what little service he was able to perform. Paul's wish for him is that the Lord would grant him to find mercy on the last day. So far as Paul knew, these and other evidences in good works provided sufficient ground for assuming that Onesiphorus had held the true faith, and that for that reason the reward of mercy would fall to his lot. In conclusion the apostle appeals to Timothy's own knowledge of the case: And in how many ways he served me in Ephesus thou knowest best. It was not necessary for the apostle to enumerate all the good things which he might have stated about this noble, unselfish man. His work was known sufficiently well wherever his name was mentioned. Timothy himself had been in Ephesus as a witness of some of the deeds of kindness, and was therefore able to judge for himself better than Paul, whose opinion therefore did not need to influence him. It is a special blessing of God if all the members of the congregation show proper willingness to be of service in the cause of the kingdom of Christ.
After the address and salutation the apostle reminds Timothy of his early training and its obligations; he admonishes him to steadfastness, incidentally referring to his own sorrowful and comforting experiences.