2 Timothy


Personal Notes, 1:15-18

Bad news and good


At this point, Paul details some personal news regarding "the defection of some Christians, and the faithful service of others", Barrett.


i] Context: See 1:1-5. Paul encapsulates the main substance of his letter between these personal notes and the concluding personal notes, 4:6-18.


ii] Background: See 1:1-5.


iii] Structure: Those ashamed of Paul and those who are not:

The shameful example of Phygelus and Hermogenes, v15;

The splendid example of Onesiphorus, v16-17;

A prayer for Onesiphorus, v18.


iv] Interpretation:

Paul's exhortation to Timothy continues with examples of disloyalty and loyalty. Paul is looking to Timothy for support and loyalty and so provides an example of those, most likely known to Timothy, who have proved disloyal, v15 and those who have proved loyal and not ashamed of him. Onesiphorus and his family have provided for Paul in prison, v16-17, and for this Paul seeks the Lord's blessing on Onesiphorus and his family, v18.


Authenticity: Arguments abound as to the authenticity of this personal note. It is suggested by Harrison, The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles, 1921, that we have here an extract from an original Pauline letter penned at the point of his execution and inserted to give authenticity to 2 Timothy. On the other hand, Houlden views the note as mere gossip and likely not to come from the hand of Paul.

Pauline authorship should not be so easily discounted. The letter is, in part, unlike Paul's earlier letters, but such does not disprove Pauline authorship. The letter was soon accepted as Pauline by the early church, and that probably settles the matter, ie., they recognised that the letter bore the marks of divine authority.


v] Homiletics: Is it just you in your Tardis?

[The Tardis in the Matrix] It's interesting how often prayer in the scriptures is based on a divine promise. Elijah prays that the famine afflicting Israel will be lifted only after God promises to lift it. Paul prays for the salvation of Onesiphorus, for God's "mercy" "on that day", the day of judgment, although the presumption is that Onesiphorus is already a believer, v18. Yet, not just Onesiphorus, but Paul also prays for God's "mercy" on his "household" as well, v16.

It's very interesting, in the scriptures, the number of occasions when a person's salvation extends to their family; "you and all your household will be saved", Acts 11:14, cf., 16:33, 18:8. I wonder if this includes the servants and slaves? Even in Jesus' ministry, salvation sometimes extended to the whole family, cf., Jn.4:53. We all know that, when it comes to the Bible, an is is not an ought, a description is not a prescription, so it's not possible to propose as a rule that the faith of an individual assures the salvation of their extended family because that's what happened in a particular Bible story. Still, it does at least show that God works in families - the fundamental unit of society; mum, dad and the kids. Family is God's invention, so he obviously gives it special honour!

God is a merciful God and so that's why I pray for God's mercy to extend to all the members of my family, of which many are not related by blood or marriage (mates, work-mates, old girlfriends, ... thru to all the members of the youth clubs and churches I have ever ministered to, or attended - I adopt them all!), and many of whom are now deceased (Dear me! a Protestant praying for the dead - but God is not bound by time, is he?).

Even if I'm only partly right on the extent of God's grace, I'm going to have a very full Tardis in glory. Although, I'm not sure how they will all fit in, because if the size of our Tardis is determined by the worth of the heavenly treasure we generate here on earth, then my Tardis is going to be very small and underpowered. Of course, I actually think that the size of our Tardis is determined by the worth of the treasure generated by Jesus, in which case, my Tardis is going to be very big and very powerful, even if totally undeserved - as will yours.


This sermon has the potential to create enormous theological confusion!

Text - 1:15

Those ashamed of Paul, and those who are not, v15-18: i] The shameful example of Phygelus and Hermogenes, v15. Paul now makes a rather enigmatic statement. Ephesus is the most prominent city in the Roman province of Asia, but Paul can't be referring to his troubles in Ephesus, Acts 19, give that he was supported by numerous friends. Timothy is now based in Asia, in Ephesus, or nearby, so in what sense has "everyone in the province of Asia" abandoned Paul? Is he referring to a lack of physical aid or support during his arrest and trial, or even theological desertion? The comment seems to imply that Paul's mission churches in Asia have dissociated themselves from him since his imprisonment in Rome. Two particular associates are called out, but we know nothing of them, other than that they are mentioned in Apocryphal literature.

oJti "that" - [you know this] that. Introducing a dependent statement expressing what Timothy knows.

oiJ "everyone" - [all] the ones. If we take the adjective panteV, "all", as a substantive, "all the ones" = "everyone", then the article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase en th/ Asia/, "in Asia", into an attributive modifier limiting "all" = "everyone"; "everyone who are in the province of Asia."

en + dat. "in" - in [asia]. Local, expressing space; "residing in the Roman province of Asia."

apestrafhsan (apostrefw) aor. pas. "has deserted [me]" - turned away from [me]. The intensifying prefix apo possibly indicates "turning away something from someone", Perkins. Presumably turned away from Paul's gospel, from the truth of the gospel, although the presence of me, "me", makes the action personal.

w|n gen. pro. "including" - of whom [is = are phgelius and hermogenes]. The genitive is adjectival, technically partitive, with the sense "including for example", Marshall. Nothing is known of these persons.


ii] The splendid example of Onesiphorus, v16-17. This believing friend of Paul gets another mention in 4:19, but there is no other mention of him in the New Testament. The reference that "he often refreshed" Paul while in prison, may infer past assistance prior to Paul's imprisonment in Rome, eg., Paul's Ephesian imprisonment, cf., v18. The implication is that Onesiphorus is a native of Ephesus. It is while he was visiting Rome that he sought Paul out and offered him further help. Obviously, he was a person of means, able to assist Paul, but more so, a person of character, willing to face the danger of assisting a convicted prisoner.

dw/h (didwmi) opt. "may [the Lord] show [mercy]" - may [the lord] give [mercy]. Optative used to express a prayer request.

tw/ ... oikw/ (oV) dat. "to the household" - Dative of indirect object. The sense is "the extended family", although a household at this time included servants / slaves. The reference "household of Onesiphorus" may indicate that he is now deceased, in which case Paul is praying for the dead, cf., v18. Prayers for the dead have long been a hot issue, but leaving aside the obvious flaws in such a practice, one wonders whether our prayers today can prompt divine action in the past (assuming that God is greater than Dr. Who!!!) - or would it be better to say divine action in the present may be prompted by prayers in the future? The mind boggles! Anyway, the phrase is likely to be idiomatic and simply mean "Onesiphorus and his family", cf. 1Cor.1:16, 16:15-18.

Onhsiforou (oV) gen. "of Onesiphorus" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive / relational. Again, nothing is known of this person other than what can be gleaned from the text. He obviously does not live in Rome, having visited Rome and sought Paul out. He may well live in Ephesus and is likely known to Timothy.

oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul wants the Lord to show mercy to Onesiphorus and his family.

pollakiV adv. "often" - [he] often [refreshed me and was not ashamed of the chain of me]. Modal adverb, expressing the frequency of action. Paul commends Onesiphorus for his support in providing refreshment, probably in the sense of supplying Paul with his basic needs, food and the like, and for not being ashamed of being connected with a prisoner of the State.


alla "but on the contrary" - but. Adversative, as NIV.

genomenoV (ginomai) aor. mid. part. "when he was" - having been. The participle is adverbial, usually taken as temporal, as NIV; "instead, on arriving in Rome", Berkeley.

en + dat. "in" - in [rome]. Local, expressing space.

spoudaiwV adv. "[he searched] hard" - [he] diligently, eagerly [sought me and found me]. Adverb of manner. Possibly "promptly", Zerwick, although the sense of overcoming a difficulty seems more likely, as NIV; "he went to a great deal of trouble to find me", Phillips.


iii] Paul's prayer for Onesiphorus, v18. Paul's general wish-prayer in v16 is repeated and reinforced. In v16 it was mercy for the "household" / family of Onesiphorus, now for Onesiphorus himself - "mercy from the Lord on that day", the day of the Lord's return, the day of judgment. God's mercy is a gift of his grace, and he grants it, not on the basis of our pleading, but on the basis of his promise - When it come to salvation, "ask and it will be given to you." To this end Paul prays for Onesiphorus and his household.

dw/h (didwmi) aor. opt. "may [the Lord] grant" - may [the lord] give. The optative serves to express a prayer request.

euJrein (euJriskw) aor. inf. "that [he] find" - to find. The infinitive "to find" introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the Lord gives = grants, namely "to show mercy to Onesiphorus on the day of judgment", CEV. The infinitival construction "to find mercy" with the prepositional phrase para kuriou, "from beside / proceeding from the Lord", plays with the idea that when we find the Lord we find mercy; we find him and his mercy finds us. "The Lord" here is likely to refer to Jesus.

autw/ dat. pro. "he" - [mercy from the lord in that day] to him. Dative of indirect object (of giving something to someone).

para + gen. "from" - from [the lord]. Here expressing source / origin.

en + dat. "on" - in [that day]. The preposition here is temporal, as NIV; "on the Last Day", Peterson.

beltion adv. "[you know] very well" - [and you know] better. The comparative adverb here is used for a superlative, so not "you know better than most", but rather "you know very well."

o{sa pro. "how many ways" - how much / everything that, whatever [he served, took care of me]. Emphatic by position. Following a cognitive verb, here "know", the pronoun introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception, expressing what "you know"; "you know that in many ways ("all the things that", Marshall) ....." = "you know how much ("the many services", NEB) he did for me in Ephesus."

en + dat. "in" - in [ephesus]. The preposition may well be temporal rather than local; "while he was in Ephesus."


2 Timothy Introduction


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