THE LORD GRANT
MERCY TO THE HOUSE OF ONESIPHORUS: doe (3SAAO) eleos o kurios to Onesiphorou oiko:
(Lord - 2Ti 1:18. Ne 5:19, 13:14, 22, 31 Ps 18:25, 37:26. Mt 5:7,
10:41, 42, 25:35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40. 2Co 9:12, 13, 14. He 6:10, 10:34)
(House. Metonymy of the Subject where “house” equates with his
"family" - Ge 7:1. 2Ti 4:19. Ru 4:12. 2Sa 7:25, 26, 27, 28, 29. Ac
EXAMPLE OF ONE WHO
The house of Onesiphorus - Not the literal physical house of
course but the household.
Paul first prays for the family of Onesiphorus.
(didomi) means a granting based on a decision of the will of
the Giver and not on any merit of the recipient, especially in regard to
what is being granted here - mercy. This verse is a wonderful
illustration of the truth
Blessed are the merciful for they
shall receive mercy (Mt 5:7-note).
The optative mood in the NT
usually indicates a prayer in this case a request for mercy
(see discussion on "mercy"
below). Note well that here we see Paul in dire straits himself
and yet still interceding for the needs of
others (cf Acts 20:35)
(eleos) is the outward manifestation of pity and assumes need
on the part of those who are recipients of the mercy and sufficient resources to meet the need on the part of
those who show it.
The idea of mercy is to show kindness or
concern for someone in serious need or to give help to the wretched, to
relieve the miserable. Here the essential thought is that mercy gives
attention to those in misery.
Larry Richards notes that...
Originally (eleos) expressed only the
emotion that was aroused by contact with a person who was suffering. By
NT times, however, the concept incorporated compassionate response. A
person who felt for and with a sufferer would be moved to help. This
concept of mercy--as a concern for the afflicted that prompts giving
help--is prominent in both the Gospels and the Epistles. (Richards,
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
Vincent commenting on Luke
1:50 (see verses at end of this verse note) writes that eleos...
emphasizes the misery with which
grace deals; hence, peculiarly the sense of human wretchedness coupled
with the impulse to relieve it, which issues in gracious ministry.
Bengel remarks, “Grace takes away the fault, mercy the misery.”
Mercy for past sins; grace
for future work, trial, and resistance to temptation. (Ed: see
more below on distinction between mercy and grace)
The pre-Christian definitions of the
word eleos include the element of grief experienced on account of
the unworthy suffering of another. So Aristotle. The Latin misericordia
(miser “wretched,” cor “the heart”) carries the same idea.
So Cicero defines it, the sorrow arising from the wretchedness of
another suffering wrongfully. Strictly speaking, the word as applied to
God, cannot include either of these elements, since grief cannot be
ascribed to Him, and suffering is the legitimate result of sin. The
sentiment in God assumes the character of pitying love. Mercy is
kindness and good-will toward the miserable and afflicted, joined with a
desire to relieve them. (Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New
Testament) (Bolding added)
In Classical Greek...
eleos was used as a technical
term for the end of the speech for the defence, in which the accused
tried to awaken the compassion of the judges. (Brown,
Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986.
Trench adds that...
Aristotle defined eleos this
way: "Let mercy [eleos] be a certain grief for an apparently destructive
and painful evil toward one who experienced what was undeserved in
respect to what he himself or one of his family might expect to suffer."
(Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament)
Wuest writes that eleos
God’s “kindness and goodwill toward
the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them”
(Vincent). Grace meets man’s need in respect to his guilt and lost
condition; mercy, with reference to his suffering as a result of that
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Broadus writes that mercy
includes also the idea of compassion,
and implies a desire to remove the evils which excite compassion. It
thus denotes not only mercy to the guilty, but pity for the suffering,
and help to the needy. (Broadus, J. Sermon on the Mount).
A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with thy righteousness on,
My person and offering to bring;
The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour's obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.
Augustus M. Toplady
to play his hymn)
Vincent comments on another
Greek word for mercy
oiktirmos (Ed: “pity,
compassion for the ills of others”), from oiktos, pity or mercy, the
feeling which expresses itself in the exclamation "Oh!" on seeing
another's misery. The distinction between this and eleos,
according to which oiktirmos signifies the feeling, and eleos
the manifestation, cannot be strictly held, since the manifestation is
often expressed by oiktirmos. See Sept., Psalm 24:6; 102:4;
118:77. (Adapted Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament) (Bolding
Eleos- 27x in 26v in the
NAS - Mt 9:13; 12:7; 23:23; Lk 1:50, 54, 58, 72, 78; 10:37; Ro
9:23; 11:31; 15:9; Gal 6:16; Ep 2:4; 1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 1:2, 16, 18; Titus
3:5; He 4:16; Jas 2:13; 3:17; 1Pe 1:3; 2Jn 1:3; Jude 1:2, 21. NAS
= compassion, 2; mercy, 25.
Eleos is used over 170 times in the OT (Septuagint)
with 91 of those uses being in the psalms most often for the Hebrew word for
important OT word (246x in 239v)
is defined as not merely an attitude or an emotion but an emotion
that leads to an activity beneficial to the recipient. Hesed differs
somewhat from the NT meaning of eleos in that hesed is a
beneficent action performed, in the context of a deep and enduring
commitment between two persons or parties (it is closely associated with
the concept of
- see Greek word
by one who is able to render assistance to the needy party who in the
circumstances is unable to help him or herself.
One needs to distinguish between
grace and mercy. Grace or
Charis is God’s free gift for
the forgiveness to guilty sinners whereas His mercy is the gift He gives
to alleviate the consequences of our sins.
Charis or grace emphasizes the
free, unmerited aspect of salvation whereas mercy is in a sense the
application of grace. Grace is shown to the undeserving, while
mercy is compassion to the miserable. Grace is God’s solution
to man’s sin. Mercy is God’s solution to man’s misery. Thus
grace is especially associated with men in their sins, while mercy
is usually associated with men in their misery. Grace covers the
sin, while mercy removes the pain. Grace forgives, while
mercy restores. Grace gives us what we don’t deserve while
mercy withholds what we do deserve.
Grace is getting what we do not deserve.
Justice is getting what we do deserve.
Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.
In the distinction between grace and
mercy, Trench adds that...
charis (grace) has reference to
the sins of men, and is that glorious attribute of God which these sins
call out and display, His free gift in their forgiveness, eleos
(mercy) has special and immediate regard to the misery which is the
consequence of these sins, being the tender sense of this misery
displaying itself in the effort, which only the continued perverseness
of man can hinder or defeat, to assuage and entirely remove it.… In the
divine Mind, and in the order of our salvation, as conceived therein,
the mercy precedes the grace: God so loved the world with a pitying love
(herein was the mercy), that He gave His only begotten Son (herein is
the grace), that the world through Him might be saved. But in the order
of the manifestation of God’s purposes in salvation, the grace must go
before, and make way for the mercy. (Trench,
R. C. Synonyms of the New Testament. Hendrickson Publishers. 2000)
Eleos is often used in the
for the Hebrew word hesed which refers to God's covenant faithful love.
Mercy includes at least three
elements - recognizing the need, motivation to meet the need and taking
action to meet the specific need...
1. ”I see the need”
2. “I am moved by the need”
3. “I move to meet the need”
Mercy says "I have the feeling
of sorrow over another person's "sad" situation and I make the
volitional choice to seek to do something about their need." This is
mercy in action, preeminently portrayed by our Mercy Filled
(Merciful) God Who sees the sad state of lost sinners, feels compassion
for them (Eph 2:1-3) and acts to grant them His mercy.
Mercy is more than a feeling, but not less than that. Mercy
begins with simple recognition that someone is hurting around you. But
mere seeing or feeling isn’t mercy. Mercy moves from feeling to
action. It is active compassion for those in need or distress.
Nowhere do we imitate God more than
in showing mercy. - Albert Barnes
The more godly any man is, the more
merciful that man will be. -Thomas Brooks
Mercy prefers to deal with the needy
in terms of what is needed rather than what is deserved. - D. Edmond
If God should have no more mercy on
us than we have charity one to another, what would become of us? -
Show your piety by your pity. -
Mercy imitates God and disappoints
Satan. - Chrysostom
Our presence in a place of need is
more powerful than a thousand sermons. - Charles Colson
If the end of one mercy were not the
beginning of another, we were undone. - Philip Henry
There is nothing little in God; His
mercy is like Himself—it is infinite. - Spurgeon
He who demands mercy and shows none
burns the bridges over which he himself must later pass.
God's throne is mercy—not marble.
Remembrance of past mercies is a
great stimulus to present faith. - Jerry Bridges
All our past mercies are tokens of
future mercies. - C. H. Spurgeon
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea
- Frederick W. Faber
Mercy is God's Benjamin; the last
born and best beloved of his attributes. - C. H. Spurgeon
If God should have no more mercy on
us than we have charity one to another, what would become of us? -
If God dealt with people today as he
did in the days of Ananias and Sapphira, every church would need a
morgue in the basement. - Vance Havner
Have mercy on us, God most high,
Who lift our hearts to Thee;
Have mercy on us worms of earth,
Most holy Trinity.
- Frederick W. Faber
God has two sheepdogs: Goodness and
Mercy (Ed: cp Psalm 23:6). He sends them to us from his throne of grace;
sometimes to bark at us, to badger us; sometimes to woo us by persuading
us that his will is good and perfect for our lives. - Sinclair Ferguson
Spurgeon comments on this
phrase goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
(Psalm 23:6) - This is a fact as indisputable as it is encouraging, and
therefore a heavenly verily, or "surely" is set as a seal upon it. This
sentence may be read, "only goodness and mercy," for there shall be
unmingled mercy in our history. These twin guardian angels will always
be with me at my back and my beck. Just as when great princes go abroad
they must not go unattended, so it is with the believer. Goodness and
mercy follow him always -- all the days of his life -- the black days as
well as the bright days, the days of fasting as well as the days of
feasting, the dreary days of winter as well as the bright days of
summer. Goodness supplies our needs, and mercy blots out our sins.
What a world this would be if God sat
on a throne of justice only, and if no mercy were ever to be shown to
men! - Albert Barnes
We are saved by God's mercy, not by
our merit—by Christ's dying, not by our doing.
God's wrath comes by measure; His
mercy without measure.
Depth of mercy! Can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear,
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
- Charles Wesley
"Depth of Mercy")
An actress in a town in England,
while passing along the street, heard singing in a house. Out of
curiosity she looked in through the open door and saw a number of people
sitting together singing this hymn (Depth
of Mercy). She listened to
the song, and afterwards to a simple but earnest prayer. When she went
away the hymn had so impressed her that she procured a copy of a book
containing it. Reading and re-reading the hymn led her to give her heart
to God and to resolve to leave the stage. The manager of the theater
pleaded with her to continue to take the leading part in a play which
she had made famous in other cities, and finally he persuaded her to
appear at the theater. As the curtain rose the orchestra began to play
the accompaniment to the song which she was expected to sing. She stood
like one lost in thought, and the band, supposing her embarrassed,
played the prelude over a second and a third time. Then with clasped
hands she stepped forward and sang with deep emotion:
“Depth of mercy, can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?”
This put a sudden stop to the
performance; not a few were impressed, though many scoffed. The change
in her life was as permanent as it was singular. Soon after she became
the wife of a minister of the Gospel (Ed: What a great tale of
His great mercy.) (Sankey, Ira David. My Life and the Story of the
Gospel Hymns. Harper & Brothers, 1906)
from Google Books)
God of mercy, God of grace,
Show the brightness of Thy face;
Shine upon us, Savior, shine,
Fill Thy Church with light divine,
And Thy saving health extend,
Unto earth’s remotest end.
- Henry F Lyte
The Blue Letter Bible has this helpful
Mercy is when that which is deserved is
withheld to the benefit of the object of the mercy. God has demonstrated
this attribute in abundance with respect to mankind. We from nearly the
beginning of our existence have deserved nothing but wrath; having
sinned and fallen short of eternal life in glory, we can do nothing to
commend ourselves to or defend ourselves before God. But thankfully, God
has been so amazing in His mercy. Over and against merely having the
mercy to allow us to live out our miserable lives without destroying us
instantly, God has chosen us to greatness and glory by the hand of His
Son. The believer finds himself in Christ and enjoys full well the
fruits of God's mercy. (Blue Letter Bible)
The merciful are those who are
conscious that they are themselves the unworthy recipients of God’s
mercy, and that but for the grace of God they would be not only sinners,
but condemned sinners."
The mercy of God is an ocean divine,
A boundless and fathomless flood.
Launch out in the deep, cut away the shore line,
And be lost in the fullness of God.
- Albert B. Simpson,
William Barclay noted the
Hebrew word (hesed) for "merciful" has the idea of
"the ability to get right inside the
other person's skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things
with his mind, and feel things with his feelings." (He adds in
Eleos is a word which acquired
a new meaning in Christian thought. The Greeks defined it as pity for
the man who is suffering unjustly; but Christianity means far more than
that by eleos.
(a) In Christian thought eleos means
mercy for the man who is in trouble, even if the trouble is his own
fault. Christian pity is the reflection of God’s pity; and that went out
to men, not only when they were suffering unjustly, but when they were
suffering through their own fault. We are so apt to say of someone in
trouble, “It is his own fault; he brought it on himself,” and,
therefore, to feel no responsibility for him. Christian mercy is mercy
for any man who is in trouble, even if he has brought that trouble on
(b) In Christian thought eleos
means mercy which issues in good fruits, that is, which issues in
practical help. Christian pity is not merely an emotion; it is action.
We can never say that we have truly pitied anyone until we have helped
W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press
Leon Morris observes
These are people who show by their
habitual merciful deeds that they have responded to God's love and are
living by His grace. They will receive mercy on the last day.
Nothing proves that we have been
forgiven (received God's mercy) better than our own readiness to forgive
(dispense God's mercy)!
Hiebert defines mercy as
“the self-moved, spontaneous loving
kindness of God which causes Him to deal in compassion and tender
affection with the miserable and distressed.”
O sing the greatness of His mercy,
Unto those that seek Him ever full and free;
O sing, while angels join the chorus,
Rolling onward like the sea.
- Fanny Crosby,
Related Resources on Mercy
Mercy - God's Attribute
Blessed are the merciful - see note
A. W. Pink
The Mercy of God
John Piper (search)
1 Peter 1:3-4 God's Great Mercy and
Our New Birth
The Transforming Power of Feeling
Psalm 33:18 Hoping in God's Mercy
Psalm 59:10 God's Mercy Going Before
Luke 1;77-79 The Tender Mercy of Our
Genesis 8:21 Human Depravity and
Luke 13:7, 8 Judgment Threatening but
Nahum 1:3 Mercy, Omnipotence, and
Isaiah 48:9-11 Mercy’s Master Motive
Lam 3:22,23 Novelties of Divine Mercy
charges us to meditate on mercy...
"The mercy of God."
Meditate a little on this mercy of
It is tender mercy. With
gentle, loving touch, He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up
their wounds. He is as gracious in the manner of His mercy as in the
matter of it.
It is great mercy. There is
nothing little in God; His mercy is like Himself--it is infinite. You
cannot measure it. His mercy is so great that it forgives great sins to
great sinners, after great lengths of time, and then gives great favours
and great privileges, and raises us up to great enjoyments in the great
heaven of the great God.
It is undeserved mercy, as
indeed all true mercy must be, for deserved mercy is only a misnomer for
justice. There was no right on the sinner's part to the kind
consideration of the Most High; had the rebel been doomed at once to
eternal fire he would have richly merited the doom, and if delivered
from wrath, sovereign love alone has found a cause, for there was none
in the sinner himself.
It is rich mercy. Some things
are great, but have little efficacy in them, but this mercy is a cordial
to your drooping spirits; a golden ointment to your bleeding wounds; a
heavenly bandage to your broken bones; a royal chariot for your weary
feet; a bosom of love for your trembling heart. It is manifold mercy. As
Bunyan says, "All the flowers in God's garden are double." There is no
single mercy. You may think you have but one mercy, but you shall find
it to be a whole cluster of mercies.
It is abounding mercy.
Millions have received it, yet far from its being exhausted; it is as
fresh, as full, and as free as ever.
It is unfailing mercy. It will
never leave thee. If mercy be thy friend, mercy will be with thee in
temptation to keep thee from yielding; with thee in trouble to prevent
thee from sinking; with thee living to be the light and life of thy
countenance; and with thee dying to be the joy of thy soul when earthly
comfort is ebbing fast. — Morning and Evening
(oikos) literally means a place of dwelling (a home) but
in the present context is used metaphorically for the household or
family (cf similar
use 1Ti 3:4, 5)
Dwight Edwards comments that
In the midst of Paul's darkest hours, one light still shines
brightly. That light belongs to Onesiphorus for he truly was a "brother
born for adversity." In spite of personal danger and repeated sacrifice,
Onesiphorus made his way to Rome and there refreshed the heart and soul
of his beloved friend, Paul. Onesiphorus is an outstanding
example of genuine love and true friendship. We find at least three
Christ-like characteristics exemplified in his life: unconcerned for
self ("he often refreshed me"), undaunted by sacrifice ("when he was in
Rome he eagerly searched for me") and unceasing in expression ("you know
very well what services he rendered at Ephesus")
Truly Onesiphorus is an outstanding example of all that Paul has been
exhorting Timothy to do...Onesiphorus
has been eternally etched upon the pages of Scripture for his selfless,
sacrificial service. Truly it is only by losing our life for the sake of
Christ that we guarantee its worth to be saved beyond the grave. (2Timothy: Call to Completion)
FOR HE OFTEN
REFRESHED ME: hoti pollakis me anepsuxen (3SAAI):(1Cor 16:18;
Philemon 1:7 1:20)
because he often visited and encouraged me (NLT)
because he has often been a comfort to me (NJB)
he often gave me new heart (NAB)
he visited me and encouraged me often. His visits revived me like a
breath of fresh air (TLB)
For he often
refreshed me - Don't overlook the little word often
(pollakis) which means many times, again and again, time
after time. It conveys a vivid picture of the ministry of Onesiphorus to
Young's literal accurately conveys the sense of the original Greek
word order as "many times he did refresh me", thus placing
emphasis on the "many times". Clearly Onesiphorus did not stealthily sneak in to see Paul and leave never
to see him again, but he seems to have come back time after time.
(anapsucho from ana = again ~repetition +
psucho = breathe, cool, wax cold) literally means to
cool again, to make cool or refresh, or to experience cooling so as to
recover from the effects of overheating and so to revive by fresh air.
In a transitive sense it means to give someone "breathing space" and
thus to refresh them, revive them or cheer them up. In the intransitive
sense it means to experience relief, reviving or refreshing.
Anapsucho is used only here in the NT in a metaphorical sense to
describe relief provided to Paul from the distress associated with being
in prison and being forsaken by "all who are in Asia". It is as if the
air conditioner was turned on in the dank dungeon when Onesiphorus came
into the cell.
combination verb (sunanapauomai) is used by Paul in Romans 15 in
which he ask the saints at Rome to pray for him...
so that I may come to you in joy by
the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company.
(Literally "may be refreshed with") (see note
Do you have that kind of effect on your brethren? Or do they begin to
feel suffocated by your presence?
many times did that man
put fresh heart into me.
bracing me like fresh air.
visits into the squalid conditions of the dungeon was like a "cool
breeze" reviving Paul's spirit and soul.
Don't we all
thank God for sending those saints who are like “a breath of fresh
air” in our time of trial?
is the related root for the noun anapsuxis
used in (Acts 3:19,
where Peter appeals to his unregenerate Jewish listeners at Pentecost to
be born again and so to...
imperative = Do
this now!) therefore and return,
imperative = Do
this now!) that your sins may be
wiped away, in order that times of refreshing (anapsuxis)
may come from the presence of the Lord and that He may send
Jesus, the Christ appointed for you". (Acts 3:19, 20)
the Greek translation of the OT
(Septuagint) uses the related word
to describe the "refreshing" that came over Saul whenever David
would play his harp
So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God
came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and
Saul would be refreshed (Lxx = anapsucho) and be well, and the evil spirit would depart
from him.(1Sa 16:23)
In Exodus 23
anapsucho is used to describe the "refreshment" that was to be
enjoyed on the Sabbath (rest) day...
Six days you are to do your work, but on the
seventh day you shall cease from labor in order that your ox and your
donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your
stranger, may refresh (Lxx = anapsucho) themselves. (Exodus 23:12)
Paul used another
verb anapauo with a similar meaning to anapsucho, writing to the
church at Corinth Paul said...
And I rejoice over the coming of
Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus; because they have supplied what
was lacking on your part. For they have refreshed (anapauo
= caused to rest) my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.
(1Corinthians 16:1, -18)
reminds one of the proverb which says that...
times, and a
adversity. (Pr 17:17)
Be A Friend
- I received an e-mail asking if I would spend some time with an ailing
pastor. The writer said, "Even pastors need to be ministered to."
She is right. Everybody needs the encouragement of a friend. Even the
courageous and deeply spiritual apostle Paul drew on the support of
friends as he languished in a dungeon awaiting execution. This is
evident from his desire that the Lord extend special mercy to the family
of a friend named Onesiphorus (2 Ti 1:16).
This man had gone to great lengths to find Paul, who was imprisoned in
Rome. His visits to the apostle were a great encouragement. Paul
expressed his gratitude for Onesiphorus, and he wrote, "The Lord grant
to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day" (v.18). Since
all believers will receive mercy when they stand before Christ, I
believe Paul meant that God will give special recognition to those who
have shown special kindness to His servants.
Many people are looking for a little encouragement from a Christian
friend. A pleasant greeting, a verse from the Bible, or a simple prayer
can do wonders. Onesiphorus was a special friend because he showed
special kindness. Let's follow his example. —Herbert Vander Lugt (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
world around us surges--duties vie
For all our time, our energies, our care;
But greater duty urges: Don't pass by
A hurting heart whose burden we may share.
are always music to a heavy heart
The majority of friends (so-called) will forsake us in the darkest hour
of need; but the friend who is to be treasured as a jewel is the man who
stands with us when we need encouragement, when all others are against
us, and seemingly we have lost the battle. No words could ever express
the worth of such a friend! (Oliver Greene, The Epistles of Paul the
Apostle to Timothy and Titus, p.228f)
Friend - After one of my relatives had a stroke, she needed help to
get around and could no longer remember recent events. One day, my wife
Ginny suggested that we take her out to dinner. I wondered if we should,
because afterward she wouldn't even remember what we had done. Ginny
responded, "While we are with her she will know we love her." How true!
All of us need to know we are loved. I recall the answer I received when
I asked a 90-year-old shut-in how his grandchildren were doing. He said,
"I don't know. I never see them."
The apostle Paul was locked in a damp Roman dungeon, awaiting execution.
He couldn't help but feel hurt that many former friends had deserted
him. How grateful he was for the friendship of Onesiphorus!
This man left his family and an active ministry in Ephesus to befriend
Paul. When he arrived in Rome, he searched diligently to find where Paul
was imprisoned (2Timothy 1:17). And he courageously visited the apostle
again and again. Paul said of Onesiphorus, "He often refreshed me, and
was not ashamed of my chain" (v.16).
Remember, "A friend loves at all times," especially in adversity
(Proverbs 17:17). Like Onesiphorus, let's commit ourselves to being
faithful to our friends. —Herbert Vander Lugt
Someday I hope with you to stand
Before the throne, at God's right hand,
And say to you at journey's end,
"Praise God, you've been to me a friend." —Clark
Adversity is the test of true friendship.
AND WAS NOT
ASHAMED OF MY CHAINS: kai ten halusin mou ouk epaiscunth
(3SAPI): (Acts 28:20; Eph 6:20-note
in both these XRef's "chain"
He was never ashamed of me because I
was in prison. (NLT)
He... was not ashamed that I was in
Not (ouk) is the strongest Greek negative and expresses
direct and full negation, independently and absolutely. The point is
that Onesiphorus was absolutely not ashamed!
from epi = upon or used to intensify the meaning of the following
word + aischunomai from aischos = disfigurement & then
disgrace) means to experience a painful feeling or sense of loss of
status because of some particular event or activity. It describes one's
consciousness of guilt or of exposure or the fear of embarrassment that
one's expectations may prove false.
is associated with being afraid, feeling shame which prevents one from
doing something, a reluctance to say or do something because of fear of
humiliation, experiencing a lack of courage to stand up for something or
feeling shame because of what has been done.
This great soul
Onesiphorus manifested not a single one of the characteristics of shame!
This man's example illustrates and exemplifies Paul's exhortation in
2 Timothy 1:8 to...
not be ashamed of the
testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner. (See note 2
It is interesting
that the Greek word for ashamed is
used only 9 times in the NT but three of those uses are in this first chapter! This
is worth pondering.
Onesiphorus was NOT reluctant to seek and succor Paul in his distress for
fear of shame or suffering. He was bold as only a man controlled by a
spirit of power and love and discipline (2Ti 1:7-note)
could be. Furthermore, he was unashamed of the gospel (Ro 1:16-note)
for which Paul was in prison (2Ti 1:8-note).
Onesiphorus lived his life in the light (and
in the power of the Light of the world) of eternity for he knew Whom he had believed and
had entrusted himself to Him (cf 2Co 4:18, He 11:27-note)
(halusis) is "chain" singular not plural which
some commentators take as evidence that he was chained to a Roman guard.
Halusis is a series of interconnected (usually
metallic) links intended to bind the hands or feet. Paul was handcuffed
to a Roman soldier twenty-four hours a day.
Jowett has an interesting thought on Paul's "chains"
A man’s chain often lessens the circle of his
friends. The chain of poverty keeps many people away, and so does
the chain of unpopularity. When a man is in high repute he has
many friends. When he begins to wear a chain, the friends are apt
to fall away. But the ministers of the morning breeze love to come in
the shades of night. They delight to minister in the region of
despondency, and where the bonds lie heaviest upon the soul. “He was not
ashamed of my chain.” The chain was really an allurement. It gave
speed to the feet of Onesiphorus and urgency to his ministry. (Ed: May
his tribe increase!)
Towner adds that
it was not too
long ago that open association with the Christian church in Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet Union meant severe persecution. In Islamic
countries and provinces this still holds true (while the situation in
China is hardly predictable from one day to the next). When the church
is under fire, to give aid to an imprisoned pastor becomes a courageous
act of faith. At one of the worst, most dangerous times for
Christians, this is precisely what Onesiphorus did for Paul. The apostle
was in prison in Rome in the time of Nero. By repeatedly visiting him at
this time and giving aid, Onesiphorus identified himself closely with
this enemy of the state and his illegal religion. It is certainly
not exaggerating to say that this friend risked his life in order to
help Paul. This is “unashamed” loyalty to the gospel....we learn
from this instruction to Timothy that the faithful Christian will not
shrink back from speaking up about Christ and his work. Loyalty to the
Lord is measured in perseverance in the face of opposition. We also
learn that all that is needed to be this kind of Christian is provided
in the Holy Spirit. In view of the gift of the Spirit, the gospel record
of all that God has done for us and the human models of faithfulness and
loyalty, there is no excuse for halfhearted commitment to God. How do we
react when challenged by friends, family, classmates, colleagues who
ridicule the Christian message as anti-intellectual, old-fashioned,
narrow-minded or sheer fantasy? Perhaps the church had more riding on
Timothy than it does today on us. But in our personal walk with God, we,
like Timothy and Onesiphorus, must decide ourselves to be loyal to
Christ or ashamed of him." (Bolding added for emphasis)