This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain. 2 Timothy 1:15-17
Here’s the question. What does it mean to be a faithful Christian? There are certainly a number of ways that we can answer that question. In 2 Timothy 1:13-14 Paul gave us a glimpse of what it takes to be faithful to the Word of God. We must hold on to it tightly and then keep it through the power of the Holy Spirit. A person who is faithful to the Word will most likely be faithful in his daily walk with God.
Many times, when describing something to people it is best to provide examples of what we are talking about in order to give greater understanding in the mind of the listener. Sometimes we must even provide negative examples in order to make our point clear. In describing the great faithfulness of men, Paul uses both negative and positive examples in 2 Timothy 1:15-18.
Phygellus and Hermogenes. If you are desiring to learn a lesson in faithfulness these two characters reveal what we should not do—that is turn away. It is easy to be an unfaithful Christian. Just quit, give up, don’t make the sacrifices. Live by convenience and not commitment. In verse 16 Paul states of these two that they turned away. The phrase turned away carries the translation of returning one’s sword to its sheath or a deserter and defector. A sword is unsheathed for battle. These men quit the battle. They put away their swords and returned to the enemy. There is no neutral ground in the Christian walk. We are either siding with God or Satan. Is your sword out? Are you engaging the enemy in battle or aiding him?
Onesiphorus. If you are desiring to a learn a lesson in faithfulness from a positive example, then look no further than this man. As Phygellus and Hermogones were quitters, Onesiphorus was a winner! First of all, Paul states that Onesiphorus was refreshing. In other words, Onesiphorus took the heat off of Paul. Paul was in the worst of conditions in this Roman prison and death was certain. Onesiphorus stood for Paul in his worst moments. That’s what faithful Christians look do. They stand when the heat is on.
Next, Paul states that Onesiphorus was not ashamed of Paul’s chains. Many Christians accused Paul of being weak and a distraction. They stayed away from Paul and his problems. Today, I imagine many churches would shun Paul for “doing time.” Not Onesiphorus. He was not ashamed of Paul’s Gospel chains. Faithful Christians don’t allow “clean” Christians to get in the way.
Finally, Paul states that Onesiphorus was diligent. Onesiphorus never quit looking for Paul in Rome. Paul was shackled in a Roman prison. There was no internet or phone books. Information on prisoners did not come easily from Roman authorities. Onesiphorus had to search for Paul and search hard! Paul stated that Onesiphorus did not quit until he found him. Faithful Christians are zealous people for the cause of the Gospel.
In verse 18, Paul finished with a very special prayer and recognition for this faithful man, Onesiphorus. He prayed that he might find mercy from God and acknowledged that he would be well known amongst men because of his great faithfulness.
How will men remember us? How will God respond to us? How great is your faithfulness?