The Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus.—In striking contrast to those false friends who turned away from him was one, also well known to Timothy, probably an Ephesian merchant. Onesiphorus, to whose house the Apostle prays the Lord to give mercy, had, early in this last imprisonment of St. Paul, arrived in Rome on matters connected probably with business. There he heard of the arrest of that great master whom he had known well in Asia, and sought him out in his prison. There is but little doubt that when St. Paul wrote this Epistle Onesiphorus’ death must have recently taken place, both from the terms of this verse—where mercy is prayed, not for him, but for his house—and also from the expression “in that day,” used in 2Timothy 1:18. There is something strangely touching in this loving memory of “one” who, in his trouble, did not forsake him, but whose devotion was rather increased by his danger, and this one faithful friend would never be able again to show his love to the prisoner, for God had called him home.
For he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain.—“He oft refreshed me” does not imply that he ministered only to the Apostle’s bodily needs when he was in prison, though the word, no doubt, includes this. But “he refreshed” him by frequent visits, by, no doubt, much anxious forethought in the matter of St. Paul’s deliverance from prison and bonds, by a noble disregard of the personal danger which he incurred by his open intimacy with a prisoner charged, as St. Paul must have been, with treason against the empire. “He was not ashamed of my chain.” (See Acts 28:20, where “the chain” of another captivity is mentioned.)2 Timothy 1:18, but not improbably then absent from his home; compare the notes at 2 Timothy 4:19. He was evidently of Asia, and is the only one who is mentioned from that region who had showed the apostle kindness in his trials. He is mentioned only in this Epistle, and nothing more is known of him. The record is entirely honorable to him, and for his family the apostle felt a warm interest on account of the kindness which he had showed to him in prison. The ecclesiastical traditions also state that he was one of the seventy disciples, and was ultimately Bishop of Corone. But there is no evidence of this. There is much force in the remark of the Editor of the Pictorial Bible, that "the pretended lists of the 70 disciples seem to have been made out on the principle of including all the names incidentally mentioned in the sacred books, and not otherwise appropriated."
For he oft refreshed me - That is, showed me kindness, and ministered to my needs.
And was not ashamed of my chain - Was not ashamed to be known as a friend of one who was a prisoner on account of religion. Paul was bound with a chain when a prisoner at Rome; Philippians 1:13-14, Philippians 1:16; Colossians 4:3, Colossians 4:18; Plm 1:10; see the notes at Acts 28:20.
the house of Onesiphorus—He himself was then absent from Ephesus, which accounts for the form of expression (2Ti 4:19). His household would hardly retain his name after the master was dead, as Bengel supposes him to have been. Nowhere has Paul prayers for the dead, which is fatal to the theory, favored by Alford also, that he was dead. God blesses not only the righteous man himself, but all his household.
my chain—Paul in the second, as in his first imprisonment, was bound by a chain to the soldier who guarded him.The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; whether Onesiphorus was at this time alive, or not, is very doubtful, for he only prays for his family in this text, and saluteth them only, 2 Timothy 4:19.
For he oft refreshed me; either when he was in Asia, or (which is more probable by reason of what followeth) at Rome, whither he might attend him, or follow him.
And was not ashamed of my chain; and showed kindness to him when he was a prisoner; for which Paul prayeth mercy for his whole family.
for he oft refreshed me; both with his Christian visits, and spiritual conversation, which to the apostle, in the heat of his affliction and persecution, were like a fan in hot weather, cooling and reviving, as the word signifies; and also by supplying him with the necessaries of life, as food and raiment, or money to purchase them with. He answered to his name, which signifies, "one that brings profit": he is said to be one of the seventy disciples; See Gill on Luke 10:1 and afterwards to be bishop of Corone:
and was not ashamed of my chain; the Syriac version adds, "with which I am bound"; in which he lay, or by which he was held, and led by a soldier; see Acts 28:16. Onesiphorus was not ashamed of the apostle, though he was bound with a chain; nor was he ashamed of the cause for which he suffered: and the apostle proposes him to Timothy, as an example worthy of imitation, in those times of defection. See 2 Timothy 1:8.The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2 Timothy 1:16-18. With these unfaithful Asiatics, Paul contrasts the faithfulness of Onesiphorus, probably that he might place an example before Timothy.
δῴη ἔλεος ὁ κύριος τῷ Ὀνησιφόρου οἴκῳ] διδόναι ἔλεος does not occur elsewhere in the N. T. Regarding the form δῴη, proper to later Greek, see Buttmann, Ausführl. Gramm. § 107, Rem. 9; Winer, pp. 75 f. [E. T. p. 94]. By ὁ κύριος we must understand Christ, according to the usage of the N. T. Onesiphorus is named only here and at 2 Timothy 4:19. Many expositors (also Hofmann) think that his household only is in both passages mentioned, because he was no longer in life. This opinion is confirmed by the way in which mercy is wished for him in 2 Timothy 1:18 (de Wette).
Paul expressed such a wish because of the love that had been shown him; ὅτι πολλάκις με ἀνέψυξε] ἀναψύχειν, properly, “cool,” then “refresh, enliven” (Od. iv. 568: ἦτορ), occurring only here in the N. T. (more frequently in the LXX.; ἀνάψυξις, Acts 3:19), is not to be derived from ψυχή (Beza), but from ψύχω. De Wette, without ground, thinks that a bodily refreshment of meat and drink only is meant; it should rather be referred more generally to all proofs of love on the part of Onesiphorus. These were all the more precious to the apostle that they were given to him in his imprisonment, and proved that Onesiphorus was not ashamed of his bonds (2 Timothy 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:12); this is expressed in the words that follow. On ἅλυσιν, comp. Ephesians 6:20.—2 Timothy 1:17. ἀλλά] in opposition to the preceding οὐκ.
γενόμενος ἐν Ῥώμῃ] (comp. Matthew 26:6; Acts 13:5). It is not said what moved him to journey to Rome; it is mere conjecture to suppose that it was business matters.
σπουδαιότερον-g0- (Rec. Tisch. 8: σπουδαίως) ἐζήτησέ με] The comparative is the right reading, and is to be explained by referring to τ. ἅλυσίν μου οὐκ ἐπαισχύνθη, “all the more eagerly” (Wiesinger, Hofmann).
The ζητεῖν stands in sharp contrast with ἀπεστράφησάν με, 2 Timothy 1:15.
The addition of καὶ εὗρε brings out that Onesiphorus had sought him till he found him.
Paul at first wished mercy only to the house of Onesiphorus; he now does the same to Onesiphorus himself.—2 Timothy 1:18. Matthies, Wiesinger, Hofmann think that εὑρεῖν ἔλεος is a play on words with the preceding εὗρε; but this is at least doubtful.
The repetition of κύριος is striking: ὁ κύριος … παρὰ κυρίου. We can hardly take these to refer to two different subjects (according to de Wette, the first being God, the second Christ; according to Wiesinger and Hofmann, the very opposite).
ὁ κύριος here is in any case Christ, as in 2 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 4:18 (certainly not: “the world-ruling, divine principle,” Matthies). The apostle in what follows might simply have said εὑρεῖν ἔλεος ἐν ἐκ. τ. ἡμέρᾳ; but in his mental vision of the judgment, seeing Christ as judge, he writes down παρὰ κυρίου just as it occurs to him, without being anxious to remember that he had begun with δῴη αὐτῷ ὁ κύριος. The phrase ΕὙΡΊΣΚΕΙΝ ἜΛΕΟς ΠΑΡΆ with genitive does not occur elsewhere; only in the Song of the Three Children, 2 Timothy 1:14, have we ΕὙΡΕῖΝ ἜΛΕΟς; in 2 John 1:3 : ἜΣΤΑΙ … ἜΛΕΟς … ΠΑΡᾺ ΘΕΟῦ. As to the expression, we should compare especially Hebrews 4:16 : ἽΝΑ ΛΆΒΩΜΕΝ ἜΛΕΟς ΚΑῚ ΧΆΡΙΝ ΕὝΡΩΜΕΝ (ΕὙΡΊΣΚ. ΧΆΡΙΝ, Luke 1:30; Acts 7:46, and often in the LXX. and the Apocrypha of the O. T.). On ἘΝ ἘΚΕΊΝῌ Τῇ ἩΜΈΡᾼ, comp. 2 Timothy 1:12. This wish the apostle utters not only because of the love Onesiphorus had shown him in Rome, but also because of what he had done in Ephesus, of which, however, he does not wish here to speak further, as it is well known to Timothy.
ΚΑῚ ὍΣΑ ἘΝ ἘΦΈΣῼ ΔΙΗΚΌΝΗΣΕ] Heydenreich, Hofmann, and some others supply ΜΟΊ, others ΤΟῖς ἉΓΊΟΙς; both are unnecessary. Even without supplying anything, we can of course understand that he is speaking of services rendered in the church. On the other hand, there is nothing to indicate that Onesiphorus was actually a ΔΙΆΚΟΝΟς of the church.
ΒΈΛΤΙΟΝ ΣῪ ΓΙΝΏΣΚΕΙς] The adverb ΒΈΛΤΙΟΝ only here; the comparative does not simply stand for the positive, see Winer, pp. 227 f. [E. T. p. 304]. There is a comparison implied here: “than I could tell thee,” or the like.
 Van Oosterzee: “An inartistic form of expression, in which the second χύριος may be taken for the reflective pronoun.”
 Hofmann supposes that those services are meant which Onesiphorus, after his return from Rome to Ephesus, rendered to the apostle for the purpose of disarming the charges that had brought him into prison. This, however, is a mere conjecture.
 Otto supposes that Onesiphorus was the first to seek Paul out in his imprisonment, and that he brought the news spoken of from Ephesus; but these are conjectures which can hardly be called probable, as there is no ground on which to rest them.2 Timothy 1:16. δῴη ἔλεος, κ.τ.λ.: δίδωμι ἔλεος, like εὑρίσκω ἔλεος, is a Hebraism. See reff. The correlative, λαμβάνω ἔλεος occurs Hebrews 4:6. ποιεῖν ἔλεος μετά τινος (Luke 1:72; Luke 10:37; Jam 2:13) is a similar phrase. Here, we should say, May God bless so and so. ἔλεος does not correspond to any special sin.
τῷ Ὀν. οἴκῳ: This household is saluted in 2 Timothy 4:19. It is most natural to suppose that Onesiphorus himself was dead, both from this expression and from the pious wish in 2 Timothy 1:18. Prayer for living friends is normally and naturally in regard to objects which will be realised here in earth. The evidence of 2Ma 12:44-45, proves that an orthodox Jew of our Lord’s time could have prayed for the dead. A full discussion of the question must embrace a consideration of the final cause of prayer, and of the nature of that which we call death. See reff. to recent literature on this subject in Milligan’s art. Onesiphorus in Hastings’ D. B.
ἀνέψυξεν: The comprehensive term refresh expresses the notion admirably. They are “the blessed of God the Father” to whom the King shall say, “I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:36. See Hebrews 10:34; Hebrews 13:3). For St. Paul’s appreciation of the pleasures of friendly intercourse, see Romans 15:32, 1 Corinthians 16:18, 2 Corinthians 7:13, Philemon 1:7; Philemon 1:20.
ἐπαισχύνθη: For other examples of the absence of the temporal augment cf. Luke 13:13 (ἀνορθώθη   , etc.); Luke 24:27, John 6:18, Acts 2:25, Romans 9:29 (ὁμοιώθημεν     ).
 Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).
 Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.
 Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.
 Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).
 Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its Greek text is almost identical with that of G, and it is therefore not cited save where it differs from that MS.
 Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis (δ) of the Gospels.
 Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.
 Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. 2 Timothy 2:13-16.16. The Lord give mercy] The phrase ‘give mercy’ does not occur elsewhere in N.T. As the use of the word ‘mercy’ with ‘grace and peace’ in the salutation to Timothy in both epistles marks the special intimacy and tenderness of sympathy between St Paul and his ‘son in the faith,’ so here the ‘friend in need’ is the ‘friend indeed.’
the house of Onesiphorus] The natural though not necessary inference from this phrase here and in 2 Timothy 4:19, and from the prayer in 2 Timothy 1:18, is that Onesiphorus himself was dead.
he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain] That is, ‘in Asia, before I came to Rome this last time’ or ‘when on my way hither bound.’ The clause which follows seems to prevent our referring this to anything at Rome e.g. the libera custodia of the first imprisonment Acts 28:20; Ephesians 6:20, where the word is used, as here, in the singular. But we may refer it to a similar libera custodia, which was exchanged on arrival at Rome for that close confinement which needed Onesiphorus’ ‘zealous’ seeking out.2 Timothy 1:16. Δῴη, give) He does not make use of any imprecations against those who had been unfaithful to him, 2 Timothy 1:15. He offers the most excellent prayer for those who had stood fast. The categorical or absolute sentence implied is this; Onesiphorus was beautifully consistent. The feeling forms a modal discourse [gives the sentence its modal form. See Append., “Sermo modalis”].—ἔλεος, mercy) Onesiphorus had abounded in works of mercy.—ὁ Κυρίος, the Lord) Christ.—τῷ Ὀνησιφόρου οἴκῳ, the house of Onesiphorus) at Ephesus, 2 Timothy 1:18, ch. 2 Timothy 4:19. Onesiphorus himself was absent, or was already then dead. Paul therefore honours the survivors by his wish, nay, also himself, 2 Timothy 1:18.—πολλάκις, often) at Ephesus and Rome.
 That Onesiphorus was dead is a gratuitous assumption. The fact that Paul nowhere else prays for the dead, is fatal to the notion here. Beng., by the word ‘voto,’ wish, probably implies that Paul does not here pray, but wish, that in that day it may be found Onesiphorus is among those who are to obtain mercy.—ED.Verse 16. - Grant for give, A.V. Grant mercy (δώη ἔλεος). This connection of the words is only found here. The house of Onesiphorus. It is inferred from this expression, coupled with that in 2 Timothy 4:19, that Onesiphorus himself was no longer living; and hence ver. 18 (where see note) is thought by some to be an argument for prayers for the dead. The inference, further strengthened by the peculiar language of ver. 18, though not absolutely certain, is undoubtedly probable. The connection between this and the preceding verse is the contrast between the conduct of Phygelus and Hermogenes and that of Onesiphorus. They repudiated all acquaintance with the apostle in his day of trial; he, when he was in Rome, diligently sought him and with difficulty found him. and oft refreshed him with Christian sympathy and communion, acting with no less courage than love. He was no longer on earth to receive a prophet's reward (Matthew 10:41), but St. Paul prays that he may receive it in the day of Christ, and that meanwhile God may requite to his family the mercy he had showed to St. Paul. Refreshed me (ἀνεψυξε); literally, revived me. Only here in the New Testament, but comp. Acts 3:19. Chain (ἅλυσιν); in the singular, as Ephesians 6:20; Acts 28:20 (where see note).
Mentioned again, 2 Timothy 4:19.
Once in Paul, Ephesians 6:20. Several times in Mark, Luke, and Acts. It may mean handcuffs or manacles (see Lightfoot, Philippians, ed. of 1896, page 8), but is not limited to that sense either in classical or later Greek. See Hdt. ix. 74; Eurip. Orest. 984. Mark 5:4 is not decisive.
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