Thursday, April 27, 2023

2023.04.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Timothy 1:15–18

Read 2 Timothy 1:15–18

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Timothy know about whom (2 Timothy 1:15)? And whom, particularly? What does he pray for whom (2 Timothy 1:16)? Whom would this include? What has the head of their house done? When? Indicating what about his heart? Where had he arrived (2 Timothy 1:17)? What did he do there? For whom now, more specifically, does the apostle pray mercy (2 Timothy 1:18)? From Whom? When? Of what, further, does the apostle remind Timothy? 

What hopes can there be in times of general apostasy? 2 Timothy 1:15–18 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that in times of general apostasy, one man’s faithfulness may bring mercy to his whole household.

Courageous kindness. Timothy already knows the data in 2 Timothy 1:15. Phygellus, Hermogenes, and the vast majority of believers in and around Ephesus have turned away from Christ’s apostle. In the context, we are reminded that this is to turn away from Christ Himself, and the life and immortality that are in Him (cf. 2 Timothy 1:8-12).

The focus of the passage, however, is not in the one verse on the many, many who have turned away, together with their cautionary tale. The focus of the passage is in the three verses on Onesiphorus and his household. 

Onesiphorus had left his household back in Ephesus (cf. 2 Timothy 4:19) to come to Paul’s aid in Rome. Even though everyone back in Asia had turned away from Paul, and in Rome Paul was a prisoner in chains, Onesiphorus went to Rome for him, sought him out “very zealously,” found him, and refreshed him. Not just once but often. This was in keeping with how he had served Paul previously, back home in Ephesus, “in many ways” (2 Timothy 1:18b). 

Covenantal kindness of Christ. The apostle doesn’t just pray that Onesiphorus would find personal mercy, but that the Lord would grant mercy to his entire household. When we consider that Paul is writing as an apostle of Christ under the inspiration of the Spirit, we understand that he is indicating not just the heart of a grateful Christian but the heart of a merciful Christ. 

God deals with us covenantally, showing us kindness for the sake of our covenant heads. This way of dealing with men in history mirrors the Lord’s way of dealing with believers eternally in Christ, Who becomes their everlasting head through faith. So, the apostle prays that the Lord would grant mercy to Onesiphorus’s household. The implication is also that Timothy would hope to have a household, and that he would hope that the Lord would reward his faithfulness not only by mercy to Timothy but by mercy to that household.

Covenantal kindness of Christians. The other implication of Paul repeating these prayers in a mentoring letter to Timothy is that he expects Timothy to join Paul in praying this for Onesiphorus and his house. Indeed, the apostle expects his protégé to join action to prayer. Onesiphorus is currently in Rome, where Paul may minister to him. But Onesiphorus’s household is back in Ephesus, where Timothy may show extra kindness to him for the sake of their husband/father/master. 

In addition to neighbor love, there is a special brother love that Christians owe one another for the sake of their covenant head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Covenantal considerations extend beyond particular households of mere men to the household of God.

The ultimate mercy, of course, is the mercy that is in “that Day.” That phrase in 2 Timothy 1:17 repeats its use in 2 Timothy 1:12 and keeps the focus on eternal and spiritual mercy. Salvation is the most important mercy from God to seek in behalf of our household. Salvation is the most important mercy from God to pray for others and for their households. Salvation is the most important mercy from God to seek in our labors for others and for their households. Salvation is the most important mercy from God to seek for the household of God.

Who are in your household now? Who may be in your household later? Who has shown you, or your household particular kindness? How are you repaying them? How are you repaying their household?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for your kindness to Paul through the ministry of Onesiphorus, even when so many others had turned against him. Forgive us for when we fail to recognize when a brother needs us to stand courageoulsy with him or to seek him out zealously to refresh him. Thank You for teaching us to think covenantally and to be kind to children for the sake of their fathers. Forgive us for when we have failed to seek mercy covenantally with respect to others, or even with respect to our own households. Grant that our hearts and minds would be conformed to yours in this, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH406 “Jesus, With Thy Church Abide”

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