2 Timothy 1:18
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.
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(18) The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day . . .—The Greek should be rendered here, favour of the Lord, instead of by “mercy of the Lord.” Some commentators, who have found a difficulty in this unusual repetition of “the Lord,” explain it thus: The expression, “the Lord grant,” had become among Christians so completely “a formulary,” that the second use of the word “Lord” was not noticed; and the prayer is thus-simply equivalent to “O that he may find mercy of the Lord.” It seems, however, better to keep to the strict. literal meaning, and to understand the first “Lord,” in the sense in which the term is always found in the Epistles of St. Paul, as a title of Christ; and the second “Lord” as used of the Father, to whom here (as in Romans 2:5; Romans 2:16; Hebrews 12:23), judgment at the last day is ascribed.

In that day.—The Apostle can never repay now—not even with thanks—the kindness his dead friend showed him in his hour of need; so he prays that the Judge of quick and dead may remember it in the awful day of judgment. It is worthy of note how St. Paul’s thoughts here pass over the interval between death and judgment. It was on that day when the great white throne would be set up that he thought of the good deeds done in the body being recompensed by the righteous Judge. No doubt the expectation of the early Christians—in which expectation certainly St. Paul shared—of the speedy coming of the Lord influenced all thinking and speaking of the intermediate state of the soul between death and judgment, and almost seems to have effaced the waiting time from their minds.

And in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.—These services rendered to St. Paul at Ephesus are placed side by side with those things he had done for him at Rome, but as they are mentioned after, they perhaps refer to kind offices undertaken for the prisoner by Onesiphorus after his return from Rome to Ephesus. These things Timothy, the presiding pastor at Ephesus, would, of course, know in their detail better than St. Paul. The Greek word διηκόνσεν, rendered “he ministered,” has given rise to the suggestion that Onesiphorus was a deacon at Ephesus. Although this is possible, still such an inference from one rather general expression is precarious.

This passage is famous from its being generally quoted among the very rare statements of the New Testament which seem to bear upon the question of the Romish doctrine of praying for the dead.

It may be well very briefly to touch on two points which suggest themselves as to the bearing of this passage on the doctrine in question. (1) Although we here, in common with Roman Catholic interpreters and the majority of the later expositors of the Reformed Church, assume that Onesiphorus was dead when St. Paul wrote to Timothy, and that the words used had reference to St. Paul’s dead friend, still it must be remembered that others, well worthy of being heard, writing many centuries before any doctrinal controversy on this subject arose, have held quite another opinion. Theodoret and Chrysostom (quoted by Alford) understood that Onesiphorus was with St. Paul at this time. (2) The prayer, whether it be taken as a prayer or an ejaculation, is simply the expression of an earnest desire, on the part of St. Paul, that the kind act of the dead—assuming, contrary to the opinion of the above quoted Fathers, that he was dead—Onesiphorus towards himself may be remembered on that day when the books are opened before the Judge of quick and dead. It, indeed, only asks—looking fairly at the context—that an act of unrequited and devoted love shown in this life may be remembered in the final judgment. Without touching upon the controversy itself, it seems only just to point out the extreme precariousness of pressing this text—the only one in the New Testament really touching on this subject, and as to the interpretation of which expositors, as we have seen, are by no means in agreement—in support of a controverted doctrine.

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.The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day - The day of judgment; notes at 2 Timothy 1:12. This proves that Onesiphorus was then alive, as Paul would not offer prayer for him if he was dead. The Papists, indeed, argue from this in favor of praying for the dead - assuminG from 2 Timothy 4:19, that Onesiphorus was then dead. But there is no evidence of that. The passage in 2 Timothy 4:19, would prove only that he was then absent from his family.

And in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus - This was the home of Onesiphorus, and his family was still there; 2 Timothy 4:19. When Paul was at Ephesus, it would seem that Onesiphorus had showed him great kindness. His affection for him did not change when he became a prisoner. True friendship, and especially that which is based on religion, will live in all the vicissitudes of fortune, whether we are in prosperity or adversity; whether in a home of plenty, or in a prison.

This chapter is full of interest, and may suggest many interesting reflections. We see:

(1) A holy man imprisoned and about to die. He had nearly finished his course, and had the prospect of soon departing.

(2) he was forsaken by his friends, and left to bear his sorrows alone. They on whom he might have relied, had left him; and to all his outward sufferings, there was added this, one of the keenest which his Master endured before him, that his friends forsook him, and left him to bear his sorrows alone.

(3) yet his mind is calm, and his faith in the gospel is unshaken. He expresses no regret that he had embraced the gospel; no sorrow that he had been so zealous in it as to bring these calamities upon himself. That gospel he still loves, and his great solicitude is, that his young friend may never shrink from avowing it, though it may call him also to pass through scenes of persecution and sorrow.

(4) in the general apostasy, the turning away of those on whom he might have relied, it is refreshing and interesting, to find mention made of one unshaken friend; 2 Timothy 1:16. He never swerved in his affections. He had been kind to him in former years of comparative honor, and he did not leave him now in the dark day of adversity. It is always interesting to find true friendship in this world - friendship that survives all reverses, and that is willing to manifest itself when the great mass turn coldly away. There is such a thing as friendship, and there is such a thing as religion, and when they meet and mingle in the same heart, the one strengthens the other; and then neither persecution, nor poverty, nor chains, will prevent our doing good to him who is in prison and is about to die; see the notes at 2 Timothy 4:16.

18. grant unto him—as well as "unto his house" (2Ti 1:16).

the Lord—who rewards a kindness done to His disciples as if done to Himself (Mt 25:45).

of—from the Lord; "the Lord" is emphatically put instead of "from Himself," for solemnity and emphasis (2Th 3:5).

in how many things—"how many acts of ministry he rendered."

unto me—omitted in the oldest manuscripts, so that the "ministered" may include services rendered to others as well as to Paul.

very well—rather as Greek, "Thou knowest better" (than I can tell thee, seeing that thou art more of a regular resident at Ephesus).

This would incline us to think that Onesiphorus was yet alive. The term mercy he here prays that he may

find of the Lord, is comprehensive of all good, both corporal and spiritual, which he prays God the Father to grant to this good man, to find from the Lord Jesus Christ in that day when he shall come to judge the quick and the dead; for he had not only ministered to the apostle while he was a prisoner at Rome, but many ways at Ephesus, (where probably this Onesiphorus lived), which Timothy, being there, well knew.

The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day;.... In return for his diligent seeking till he found the apostle. By "mercy", he means the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life; or that crown of righteousness and everlasting glory and happiness, which will be a grant from the Lord, or a free gift through Jesus Christ; the effect of pure grace and mercy, and not of merit. The apostle does not propose to requite him himself; he knew it was out of his power; but he had an interest in the Lord, and at the throne of grace; and he makes use of that in his favour, and prays the Lord that he might find mercy of him: and the meaning is either, that he prayed to God, that he might find mercy of him; or he prayed particularly to the Lord Jesus Christ to act the part of a Mediator for him with his Father, that he might enjoy eternal life through him; or he prayed to God the Father, that he would grant that he might find mercy at the hands of Jesus Christ his Son, the Judge of quick and dead, who, at the great and last day, will give the crown of righteousness to all that love him, and his appearance:

and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well: or "better". Timothy being at Ephesus, of which city Onesiphorus seems to have been, and that when the apostle was there, he very freely communicated to him, as Timothy, who was with him there, knew very well: the apostle does not forget, but remembers former kindnesses, as well as takes notice of present favours, and which shows a grateful mind. The phrase, "unto me", is not in the Greek copies, though it is in the Vulgate Latin and in all the Oriental versions; wherefore the words may be understood of the things which Onesiphorus had ministered to Timothy, and to the church at Ephesus, and to the poor saints there; which Timothy was "better" acquainted with than the apostle could be, he being on the spot: and now since there were so many fallen off, and so few that remained hearty and faithful, but one Onesiphorus to all them that were in Asia; the apostle exhorts to firmness and constancy, in a dependence on the Spirit and grace of God, as follows.

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.
2 Timothy 1:18. It is immaterial whether we explain ὁ Κύριος, in this verse, of God the Father, the source of judgment, or of God the Son, the instrument of judgment. It is far-fetched to suppose that the repeated ΚύριοςΚυρίου refer to different divine Persons. Huther’s expl., followed by Alf., seems the best, that δῴη ὁ Κύριος had become so completely a formula that the recurrence did not seem harsh.

καὶ δσα κ.τ.λ.: This clause is an afterthought.

διηκόνησεν: The verb is used with a perfectly general reference here, as in Hebrews 6:10.

βέλτιον: The comparative here is intensive or elative. See Blass, Grammar, pp. 33, 141, 142. Other examples are in 1 Timothy 3:14 (Tisch.) and in the Received Text of 2 Timothy 1:17 of this chapter.

18. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day] The repetition of ‘the Lord’ arises apparently from the use of two clauses together which had become customary separate phrases in intercessory prayer. In its first use, as in 2 Timothy 1:16, with the article, understand ‘our Lord’ as in the Epistles generally, cf Winer, Pt. iii. § 19a; and in its second use ‘God the Father’ (Bp Ellicott). For a somewhat similar English use cf. Coll. for 4 S. in Advent ‘O Lord, raise up (we pray thee) thy power and come among us … through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord.’ The sentence should be regarded, as by Revisers, as a parenthetic prayer forced from him as he recalls the love that persevered to find him ‘in the lowest pit’; though he is chiefly bent on completing the tale of benefits for Timothy’s good; ‘go thou’ he would imply ‘and do likewise.’

and in how many things he ministered unto me] Omit with the best mss. ‘unto me’; the statement is general of ministry to the Church, but the context gives a special suggestion of ministry to St Paul in his ‘overseer’s’ office there. The Greek words would well bear rendering how fully he played the deacon; but anyhow the work is more prominent than the office, that of attending to bodily needs; as St Paul uses the word diakonein of himself when carrying the alms to Jerusalem, Romans 15:25 ‘now I say I go unto Jerusalem ministering unto the saints,’ and of Onesimus with himself at Rome ‘whom I would fain have kept with me, that in thy behalf he might minister unto me in the bonds of the gospel.’ Philemon 1:13.

thou knowest very well] Lit. ‘better’ i.e. than that I should need to dwell upon it.

2 Timothy 1:18. Δῴη, give) A pathetic Anaphora [the frequent repetition of a word in beginnings of sections. See 2 Timothy 1:16, “The Lord give.”]—αὐτῷ, to himself) An antithesis to his house.—ὁ Κύριος, the Lord) Christ, for whom he so acted [to whom he rendered that service, Matthew 25:45].—παρὰ Κυρίου, from the Lord) The same Christ, who shall reward him. The noun for the reciprocal pronoun, with emphasis, as Luke 11:17, note; 2 Thessalonians 3:5.—διηκόνησε, ministered) even after my departure; 1 Timothy 1:3.—βέλτιον) better than I [not as Engl. Vers. very well].


Verse 18. - To find for that he may find, A.V.; ministered for ministered unto me, A.V. (The Lord grant unto him). The parenthesis seems only to be required on the supposition that the words δῴη αὐτῷ ὁ Κύριος εὑρεῖν ἔλεος κ.τ.λ.., are a kind of play on the εῦρεν of the preceding verse. Otherwise it is better to take the words as a new sentence. The repetition of "the Lord" is remarkable, but nothing seems to hang upon it. The second παρὰ Κυίου seems to suppose the Lord sitting on the judgment throne. As regards the amount of encouragement given by this passage to prayers for the dead (supposing Onesiphorus to have been dead), the mere expression of a pious wish or hope that he may find mercy is a very slender foundation on which to build the superstructure of prayer and Masses for the deliverance of souls from purgatory. In how many things, etc. St. Paul does not say, as the A.V. makes him say, that Onesiphorus "ministered unto him" at Ephesus. It may have been so, but the words do not necessarily mean this. "What good service he did at Ephesus" would faithfully represent the Greek words; and this might describe great exertions made by Onesiphorus after his return from Rome to procure the apostle's acquittal and release by the intercession of the principal persons at Ephesus. This would, of course, be known to Timothy. It may, however, describe the ministerial labours and services of Onesiphorus at Ephesus after his return from Rome, or it may refer to former ministrations when Paul and Timothy were at Ephesus together (see Introduction). There seem to be no materials for arriving at absolute certainty on the point.

2 Timothy 1:18Very well (βέλτιον)

N.T.o. The sense is comparative; better than I can tell you.

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