2 Timothy 1:18
The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered to me at Ephesus…
To the Christian mind the painful feelings occasioned by the recollection of violated friendship become unspeakably more poignant and intense, when we discover that the claims of friendship and the obligations of religion have been cast off together — that he whom we loved has made shipwreck at once of his faith and of his affection — of his duty to his God and to his friend. An affecting instance of this kind is recorded at the fifteenth verse of the chapter. Was it wonderful, therefore, that from the cold, cruel, and treacherous conduct of these men, he should turn with such a glow of kind and grateful emotion to the faithful and affectionate Onesiphorus?
I. THERE IS A DAY COMING, WHICH, FROM ITS TRANSCENDENT IMPORTANCE, MERITS THE EMPHATIC DESIGNATION OF "THAT DAY." And does not this day deserve the emphatic mention which is here made of it? Compared with every other period in the history of the universe, does it not stand out in unparalleled importance? There are days in the life of every one which, from the event s that transpire in them, are invested with great and merited importance to the individual himself — such as the day of his birth, and of his death. But there is something in the day of final and universal retribution that sinks into obscurity any other eventful period in the history of man. The day of our birth introduces us into a scene empty and shadowy, both in its joys and sorrows, and proverbially brief and transitory in its duration; that day ushers us into a state of being, in which we shall be conversant no more with the dreams only, but with the living realities of perfect felicity or woe, and conversant with them through a duration endless as the reign of the Eternal itself. The day of our death is chiefly interesting to ourselves, and to the little circle who have been connected with us by the ties of kindred or love; the day of judgment is supremely interesting to any rational being who has lived and breathed on the face of our world — A day when the eternal destiny of the whole human race shall be determined with unparalleled publicity and solemnity. How important are those days, in the opinion of men, which have witnessed the fall or the rise of empires. How important was the day that dawned on the tribes of Israel marching from under the yoke of their Egyptian bondage — A day that ever afterwards was held sacred to commemorate their deliverance! How eventful that day that rose on the fall of the Assyrian monarchy, and beheld the empire of the East pass from Belshazzar and his impious race into the hands of the mild and virtuous Cyrus! How painfully memorable, at least to the nation immediately concerned, was the day that beheld the final destruction of Jerusalem, and the rejection and dispersion of its devoted race! How important to these lands of our nativity, and how worthy to be held in grateful remembrance, that day which witnessed the consummation of the glorious struggle that terminated in the vindication and establishment of our civil and religious liberties! But do you not feel that all these days, whether of transient or permanent importance, are so utterly insignificant, when viewed in relation to that day, that the comparison involves in it a kind of incongruity, and is truly a lowering of the awful dignity of the subject? There are but two periods in the history of the world that can be consistently compared, in point of importance to men, with that day — the day that dawned on the creation of our race, which was hailed by the sweet acclaim of the angelic hosts and the day that shone on the birth of the Son of God. In every aspect in which we can view them, these were days big with consequence to the human family; but they were only the introductory scenes to the consummation of the mightiest drama that ever was, or will be, performed on the theatre of the world.
II. ON THAT DAY THE MERCY OF THE LORD WILL DE REGARDED BY ALL AS UNSPEAKABLY PRECIOUS. The mercy of the Lord is, in this world, regarded in a very different light by the various classes of men, if we may judge of their sentiments and opinions from their uniform practice. The great mass of mankind demonstrate by their conduct that, whatever may be their occasional fears and desires, the prevailing habit of their mind is an utter indifference either to the mercy or vengeance of God. But there are a few who are honourably distinguished by different sentiments, who avow it as their opinion, and evince their sincerity by a corresponding practice, that they esteem everything under heaven as utter vanity compared with the mercy of the Lord. And they who have practically esteemed the mercy of the Lord so highly in this world, will value it the more at that terrible day. With all their successful efforts, by the grace of God, to prepare their souls to meet the Lord in peace, and to be found without spot and blameless at His coming, they will impressively feel themselves still to be the objects of His mercy. Yes, and at that day Paul and his fellow-believers will not be singular in prizing the mercy of the Lord. Much as sinners have despised the mercy of the Lord here, they will then despise it no more.
III. IN THE MIND OF A CHRISTIAN, THAT DAY POSSESSES TREMENDOUS CONSEQUENCE, AND TOWARDS IT HIS EYE IS HABITUALLY DIRECTED. Such consequence did this day possess in St. Paul's view, that the importance of everything on earth was estimated by its remote or immediate relation to it. Did he, from the hour of his conversion, despise all distinctions of wealth and honour when brought into competition with the knowledge of Christ? It was, that by any means he might attain to a blessed resurrection on that day. Did he practise the most painful and persevering self-denial; or, to use his own words, did he keep under his body and bring it into subjection? It was, that he might not be found disapproved on that day. Was he not ashamed of the sufferings he endured for the gospel? It was because he knew in whom he had believed, and was persuaded that He was able to keep that which He had committed unto him against that day. Did he labour in season and out of season, warning every man, and teaching every man? It was that he might present every man perfect in Christ on that day. Did he muse on the number and steadfastness of his converts? He thought of them as his hope and joy and crown of rejoicing in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coining at that day. Did he engage in prayer for his converts? It was that the Lord might make them to increase and abound in love, to the end that He might establish their hearts unblameable in holiness at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all His saints, on that day.
IV. ENLIGHTENED CHRISTIAN AFFECTION IS ESPECIALLY SOLICITOUS ABOUT THE ETERNAL WELL BEING OF ITS OBJECTS. Deeply did the grateful and generous heart of Paul feel the kindness of Onesiphorus. There is no doubt he loved him before as a disciple, and very likely as a personal friend; but his conduct, when he visited Rome, awakened still deeper emotions of gratitude and affection towards him in the bosom of the apostle. And how did he express this sense of the kindness of Onesiphorus? Did he employ all his influence to improve the temporal fortune of his benefactor? Did he request his noble converts in the palace — for some such there were of the emperor's household — to exert their power to procure for Onesiphorus some post of honour and emolument in the civil or military establishment of Rome? Or did he write to the Ephesian Church, to which this person probably belonged, enjoining them to prepare some temporal reward, to be given to their deserving countryman for his kindness to himself? No; Paul attached too much importance to the solemnities of the last day and its immediate consequences; he was too much influenced by the scenes of the world to come, to ask for his beloved comforter so poor, so miserable a recompense. He loved him too well to solicit for him a fading, when he might ask for him an unfading crown. He knew too well the worth of his soul, the importance of an eternal well-being, to overlook these for the trifles for an hour, in his desire to reward him.
V. GENUINE SAINTS HAVE IT EVER IN THEIR POWER TO REWARD THEIR BENEFACTORS. Looking at Paul as a poor despised prisoner in Rome, accused before the emperor of heresy and sedition, befriended by none but by a proscribed and despised sect, which was everywhere spoken against, with all the prejudice of the emperor, and the influence of the Jewish nation strenuously exerted against him — looking at Paul in this light one would speedily conclude, on the principles of the world, that he was a very unlikely person richly to reward his benefactors. But ten thousand times rather would I have laid this poor and apparently helpless captive under obligations to me by kindness to him, than have merited, by the most splendid civil or military services, the gratitude and reward of him who wore the imperial purple. What could Nero, even with a world at his nod, have conferred upon me? He might have lavished upon me all the favours of the imperial court. He might have made me the idol of fortune, and the envy of the proudest of the Roman nobility. He might have given me the conduct of the most honourable expeditions. He might have invested me with the command of the richest of the provinces. Paul had no imperial power or influence; he had even no imperial favour; but he was a favourite in a higher court, where he was every day, almost every hour, an acceptable visitant. He was one of those whose effectual fervent prayer reached the heavenly temple, and, through the channel of the atonement, drew down eternal blessings on his soul, and on the souls of those for whom he interceded. In conclusion, there is one inference very naturally suggested by the last remarks: If these statements are true, how wise it is, setting aside the pure love of benevolence altogether, to be kind to the people of God, especially to the pious poor!
(J. Mc Gilchrist.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.