2 Timothy 1:15
This you know, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
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(15) This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me.—This sad desertion of friends is well known to thee. Instead of being dispirited by it, and by my arrest and close imprisonment, rather shouldest thou be stimulated to fresh and renewed exertions for the cause for which I suffer this desertion, these bonds.

All they which are in Asia.—It has been maintained by many, even by great Greek expositors such as Chrysostom, that “they which are in Asia” refers to certain Asiatic Christians who happened to be in Rome at the time of the Apostle’s arrest and imprisonment. Others have even suggested that these Asiatics had gone to Rome for the purpose of bearing witness in St. Paul’s favour, and finding that St. Paul’s position was one of extreme danger, terrified for themselves—like others once before had been in the Christian story—lest they too should be involved in a like condemnation, forsook him and fled. But the simple and more obvious meaning is here to be preferred, and we assume as certain that the forsaking, the giving up St. Paul, took place in Asia itself. Large numbers of Christians, if not whole churches, repudiated their connection with the great father of Gentile Christianity, and possibly disobeyed some of his teaching. What, in fact, absolutely took place in Asia while St. Paul lay bound, waiting for death in Rome, had been often threatened in Corinth and in other centres. Party feeling ran high in those days, we know; and one of the most sorrowful trials the great-hearted St. Paul had to endure in the agony of his last witnessing for his Lord, was the knowledge that his name and teaching no longer was held in honour in some of those Asian churches so dear to him. The geographical term Asia is rather vague. It may—and indeed, strictly speaking, does—include Mysia, Phrygia, Lydia, Caria; but such a wide-spread defection from Pauline teaching seems improbable, and there is no tradition that anything of the kind ever took place. St. Paul probably wrote the term more in the old Homeric sense, and meant the district in the neighbourhood of the river Cayster;

“In Asian meadow by Cayster’s streams.”

—Iliad ii. 461.

Of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.—These names would at once suggest to Timothy the men and the congregations of “Asia” to whom St. Paul was alluding—names well known, doubtless, then, and especially to persons in the position of Timothy; but no tradition has been preserved which throws any light on the lives and actions of these traitorous friends of St. Paul.

2 Timothy 1:15-18. This thou knowest — Of this thou hast received information; that all they which are in Asia — He appears to mean those of Asia who were known to him by a profession of Christianity, and who had attended him at Rome for a while; are turned away from me — And have proved treacherous friends, after all their forward pretences. See on chap. 2 Timothy 4:16. “What! turned away from Paul, the aged, the faithful soldier, and now prisoner of Christ! This was a glorious trial, and wisely reserved for that time when he was on the borders of immortality.” — Wesley. Of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes — Probably he mentions these two persons as known to Timothy, or as having distinguished themselves by their profession, so that there was great reason to expect a different conduct from them. The Lord give mercy unto the house — Or family; of Onesiphorus — As well as himself; for he oft refreshed me — By his visits and liberalities, both at Ephesus and Rome; see 2 Timothy 1:18; and was not ashamed of my chain — That is, he both owned and relieved me without fear or shame, in this time of my imprisonment. It appears that offices of kindness done to Paul, especially when in distress, made a deep impression on his mind, and filled him with gratitude. When he was in Rome he sought me out — An expression implying that the apostle was in such close confinement that few knew where he was to be found. The Lord grant, &c., that he may find mercy of the Lord — The Lord, in this latter clause, may mean the Lord Jesus; or the words may be a common Hebraism for, May the Lord grant him mercy. By praying first for the family of Onesiphorus, (2 Timothy 1:16,) the apostle intimated that Onesiphorus was at a distance from his family; and then his praying for that good man himself, implies that he was not dead, as the Papists suppose, inferring from this prayer of the apostle the lawfulness of praying for the dead. 1:15-18 The apostle mentions the constancy of Onesiphorus; he oft refreshed him with his letters, and counsels, and comforts, and was not ashamed of him. A good man will seek to do good. The day of death and judgment is an awful day. And if we would have mercy then, we must seek for it now of the Lord. The best we can ask, for ourselves or our friends, is, that the Lord will grant that we and they may find mercy of the Lord, when called to pass out of time into eternity, and to appear before the judgment seat of Christ.This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me - That is, in that part of Asia Minor of which Ephesus was the capital. The name Asia was often given particularly to that part of Asia Minor; see the notes at Acts 2:9; Acts 16:6. This passage proves that Timothy was somewhere in that region when this Epistle was written to him, for otherwise he could not be supposed to Know what is here said. When Paul says that "all" were turned away from him, he must use the word in a general sense, for he immediately specifies one who had been faithful and kind to him.

Of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes - We know nothing of these individuals but what is here mentioned. It would seem that they were prominent persons, and those from whom the apostle had a right to expect other treatment. "The ecclesiastical traditions allege that they were of the seventy disciples, and in the end became followers of Simon Magus. We imagine that this is little more than conjecture." It is a sad thing when the only record made of a man - the only evidence which we have that he ever lived at all - is, that he turned away from a friend, or forsook the paths of true religion. And yet there are many men of whom the only thing to be remembered of them is, that they lived to do wrong.

15. all they which are in Asia—Proconsular Asia; "all who are there now, when they were in Rome (not 'be' or 'are,' but) turned from me" then; were "ashamed of my chain," in contrast to Onesiphorus; did not stand with me but forsook me (2Ti 4:16). It is possible that the occasion of their turning from him was at his apprehension in Nicopolis, whither they had escorted him on his way to Rome, but from which they turned back to Asia. A hint to Timothy, now in Asia, not to be like them, but to imitate rather Onesiphorus, and to come to him (2Ti 4:21).

Phygellus and Hermogenes—specified perhaps, as being persons from whom such pusillanimous conduct could least be expected; or, as being well known to Timothy, and spoken of before in conversations between him and Paul, when the latter was in Asia Minor.

This thou knowest: probably as to some he had a personal knowledge of their apostacy, as to others he knew it by information, which Paul confirmeth.

That all they which are in Asia be turned away from me: it seemeth unreasonable to interpret all here of every individual, but many, as all oft signifieth in holy writ. Some interpret it of all the Jewish proselytes; others, of those of Asia who accompanied Paul to Rome, and there, seeing his sufferings, apostatized; others, of many who still abode in Asia, where Timothy now was: these all, or many of them, deserted Paul, either wholly casting off the Christian profession, or withdrawing themselves from communion with Paul, when they saw him a prisoner.

Of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes; of these two we have no more said in holy writ, and therefore can assert nothing of them with any certainty. This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia,.... Either those that followed the apostle from Asia to Rome; or who came from thence thither, upon business, and were upon the spot when the apostle was in his greatest troubles, and yet all forsook him and no man stood by him; or else the churches and ministers in Asia, that is, a great number of them; for it cannot be said of every minister and church, and of all the members of churches there, what follows,

be turned away from me; were ashamed of him, because of his chain, and despised him under his afflictions, and had him in abhorrence and contempt, and revolted from his doctrine; though the defection was very general, and the apostle appeals to Timothy for the truth of it, as a fact well known to him: "this thou knowest"; Timothy being at Ephesus, which was in Asia; and since there was so great an apostasy in the country where he was, the above exhortations were very seasonable, to hold fast the form of sound words, and keep the good thing committed to him; seeing so many were falling off from the truth of the Gospel:

of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes: who very likely were ministers of the word, and who had shone for a while, but were now stars fallen from heaven, had erred from the faith, and were become apostates, and proved men of corrupt minds, and deceivers of the people; and it may be that these were more open and infamous than some others, or might be more known to Timothy, and therefore are particularly mentioned. They are both of them said to have been of the seventy disciples; See Gill on Luke 10:1 and afterwards followers of Simon Magus. The name of the first of these signifies a "fugitive", and such was he from the cause of Christ. Pliny (c) makes mention of a town in Asia, called Phygella, from the fugitives which built it; and the latter signifies born of Mercury; there was one of the name in Tertullian's time, against whom he wrote.

(c) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 29.

{11} This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.

(11) He prevents an offence which arose by the means of certain ones that fell from God and the faith, and utters also their names that they might be known by all men. But he sets against them the singular faith of one man, that one good example alone might counterbalance and weigh down all evil examples.

2 Timothy 1:15. The apostle reminds Timothy of those who had deserted him. This is done to incite Timothy to come to Rome with the greater speed, and also not to be ashamed of Paul, the prisoner of Christ, as the others had been (2 Timothy 1:8).

οἶδας τοῦτο] expresses not the probability merely (as Matthies says), but the certainty that he knows.

ὅτι ἀπεστράφησάν με] The aorist passive has here the force of the middle voice; for the same construction, comp. Titus 1:14; Hebrews 12:25; see Wahl on the passage, and Buttmann, p. 166. The word does not denote the departure of any one, but is equivalent to aversari, properly, “turn one’s countenance away from any one,” and so “throw off inwardly the acquaintance of any one” (so in the N. T., in the LXX., the Apocrypha of the O. T., and the classical writers; comp. Otto, p. 283). Without reason, de Wette denies that it has this meaning here. There is therefore in the verb no ground for the common opinion that the πάντες οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ had been with Paul in Rome, and had again returned to Asia (Matthies, de Wette, Wiesinger). Nor is there more ground in the term used for the subject; πάντες οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ are “all who are in (proconsular) Asia;” but, as a matter of course, that cannot mean all the Christians there. Perhaps Paul was thinking only of his colleagues who were then residing in Asia (Otto); but in that case he would surely have designated them more precisely. It is possible that the construction has its explanation in the addition ὧν ἐστιν Φύγελλος καὶ Ἑρμογένης, viz.: “all the Asiatics, to whom belong Phygellus and Hermogenes.” In any case, these two are named because they were the most conspicuous in their unfaithfulness to the apostle. Paul gives no hint of it, and we can hardly think it probable that they were heretics, and that the other Asiatics had also fallen away from the truth (Otto).2 Timothy 1:15. οἶδας τοῦτο: There is a personal appeal for loyalty in this reminder. The whole paragraph, with its examples cited of disloyalty and loyalty, was intended as an object lesson to Timothy.

ἀπεστράφησάν με: The reff., with the exception of chap. 2 Timothy 4:4, are parallel to this use of the verb.

πάντες must not be pressed: it is the sweeping assertion of depression. If it had been even approximately true, Timothy would have had no church to administer. On the other hand, something less serious than apostasy from the faith may be alluded to, such as personal neglect of the apostle (cf. 2 Timothy 4:16, πάντες με ἐγκατέλειπον, and the contrast of Onesiphorus’ conduct with theirs in the next verse), a thing which to us who see St. Paul through the halo of centuries of veneration seems painfully hard to understand. But it is abundantly plain that apostles did not during their lifetime receive that universal and unquestioning reverence from their fellow-Christians which we would have antecedently supposed could not have been withheld from them. Cf. 3 John 1:9.

οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ: Asia means the Roman province, which included Mysia, Lydia, Caria, great part of Phrygia, the Troad, and the islands off the coast.

This statement is most naturally explained of a defection in Asia of natives of Asia. Plummet conjectures that St. Paul had applied by letter from Rome for help to some leading Asiatic Christians, and had been refused. Of course it is possible that St. Paul refers to something that had taken place in Rome (so Bengel, who compares char. 2 Timothy 4:16). But all who are in Asia would be a strange way of referring to some Asiastics who had been in Rome and had returned to Asia; and though οἶδας τοῦτο is naturally understood as mentioning something of which Timothy had knowledge only by report, we cannot be sure that St. Paul intended here to distinguish οἶδας from γινώσκεις. Perhaps the defection had taken place during an absence of Timothy from Asia. Nothing else is known certainly of Phygelus and Hermogenes.15. all they which are in Asia be turned away] Omit ‘be’; the tense describes a definite act, not a continuing state. We are left to conjecture when and where this desertion took place. ‘They which are in Asia’ implies the residents in Asia, but the desertion may have been either in Asia, between the first and second imprisonments, or in Rome: perhaps the former more probably, on the ground that Timothy’s knowledge of it is appealed to, as also is his knowledge of Onesiphorus’ service at Ephesus, while the help rendered by Onesiphorus at Rome is spoken of independently. The ‘Asia’ meant is the Roman province according to most Commentators (Howson, Dict. Bib.) which embraced Lydia, Mysia, Caria, and Phrygia, as distinguished from ‘Asia Minor’ commonly so called and from the continent of Asia. Lewin however (Life and Epistles of St Paul, 1. p. 190) identifies the Asia of N.T. with Lydia alone, i.e. from the Caicus to the Mæander, with the plain of the Cayster within it, which Homer calls ‘the Asian Meadow,’ cf. Il. 11. 461, Virg. Georg. 1. 383, ‘Asia … prata Caystri’; and he makes three strong points: (1) that the ‘Mysia of Acts 16:6 seems clearly separated there from ‘Asia’; (2) that ‘the seven churches which are in Asia’ on this hypothesis just cover the whole district; (3) that ‘the dwellers in Asia’ of Acts 2:9 heard their own language, not three languages, Lydian, Mysian and Carian. Prof. Ramsay, the most recent authority on the geography of Asia Minor, appears to support this latter view.

of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes] The mss. favour the form Phygelus, but nothing is known of him; or yet of Hermogenes.

15–18. A Sad Warning and a Bright Example

The connexion is: ‘Many faithless ones failed me; be thou faithful all the more:—the faith and practice of an Onesiphorus may surely be thine.’2 Timothy 1:15. Ἀπεστράφησαν με, have turned away from me) at Rome, ch. 2 Timothy 4:16.—ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ, in Asia) They therefore returned thither. Not so Timothy, although he was also in Asia at Ephesus.—Φύγελλος καὶ Ἑρμογένηε, Phygellus and Hermogenes) One might perhaps have thought, that these would have been more steady than the others.Verse 15. - That are for they which are, A.V.; turned for be turned, A.V.; Phygelus for Phygellus, A.V. and T.R. Turned away from (ἀπεστράφησάν με). This verb is used, as here, governing an accusative of the person or thing turned away from, in Titus 1:14; Hebrews 12:25, as frequently in classical Greek. The use of the aorist here is important, as St. Paul does not mean to say that the Churches of Asia had all forsaken him, which was not true, and which it would be absurd to inform Timothy of if it were true, living as he was at Ephesus, the central city of Asia, but adverts to some occasion, probably connected with his trim before Nero, when they shrank from him in a cowardly way. Πάντες οἱ ἐν τῆ Ασίᾳ means "the whole party in Asia" connected with the particular transaction to which St. Paul is alluding, and which was known to Timothy though it is not known to us. Perhaps he had applied to certain Asiatics, whether Christians or Jews or GraecoRomans, for a testimony to his orderly conduct in Asia, and they had refused it; or they may have been at Rome at the time, and avoided St. Paul; and among them Phygelus and Hermogenes, whose conduct may have been particularly ungrateful and unexpected. Nothing is known of either of them. In Asia

Proconsular Asia, known as Asia Propria or simply Asia. It was the Romans province formed out of the kingdom of Pergamus, which was bequeathed to the Romans by Attalus III((b.c. 130), including the Greek cities on the western coast of Asia, and the adjacent islands with Rhodes. It included Mysia, Lydia, Caria, and Phrygia. The division Asia Major and Asia Minor was not adopted until the fourth century a.d. Asia Minor (Anatolia) was bounded by the Euxine, Aegean, and Mediterranean on the north, west, and south; and on the east by the mountains on the west of the upper course of the Euphrates.

Have turned away (ἀπεστράφηνσαν)

Not from the faith, but from Paul.

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