THE HOUSE OF ONESIPHORUS
You will remember we have spoken of Jonathan, who was not willing to share David’s rejection. Onesiphorus is a name that will live to all eternity, as one who not only was willing to share the rejection and reproach of Christ, but who very diligently sought out Paul, and found him, when he was the prisoner of Nero, chained in a Roman dungeon. From that dungeon he writes: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me.” (2 Timothy 1:15.) Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor, and Paul had labored there for three years. Read the latter part of the 20th of Acts, telling of that most touching parting between Paul and the elders of Ephesus. You remember they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him. But now Paul was a prisoner in a Roman dungeon, and they were ashamed of him, and also it was dangerous to be known as one of his friends: so all in Asia forsook him, and that included those elders at Ephesus. This does not mean they turned away from Christ, and later on the Apostle John writes a letter to the assembly at Ephesus, with much good to say of them: but they were a fallen assembly, though outwardly so fair, for they had left their first love. Revelation 2:4. I think that fall began when they turned away from Paul. And it was not only those of Asia who forsook that scorned, rejected man at this time. At his first answer before Nero, no man stood with him, “but all forsook me”, the Apostle writes. Only Luke was with him of all his beloved fellow laborers. They were dark days indeed. There are a few other names of those who were not ashamed of the rejected servants: his beloved “Prisca and Aquila”, who had so long been true to him were still unchanged. Then there is Trophimus left sick at Miletum: and from the assembly in Rome there were Eubulus, Pudens, and Linus and Claudia: the last, probably, a blue-eyed, fair-haired, British maiden: and only a little later we hear of a “Pudens and Claudia” in Rome as husband and wife.
It was in these dark days that Onesiphorus came to Rome from Ephesus, “And”, write the Apostle, “he sought me out very diligently, and found me. 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 1:16-18.)
How refreshing it is to find one whose love and loyalty stood the test: one who was willing to share the rejection and danger of the old Apostle: and as he shared Paul’s rejection, he was also sharing the rejection and reproach of Christ, and like Moses of old, I doubt not, he esteemed it greater riches than this world could offer. There is something very touching in the little company bound so closely together by devotedness to JESUS-and another has said: “Devotedness to Jesus, is the strongest bond between human hearts.” How closely would they be bound to each other, when all else had forsaken them: the old Jewish prisoner, the Greek doctor, the British maiden, the visitor from Ephesus: we can almost see them, and we can enter a little into their thoughts and feelings: may the Lord help us to be true and loyal as they were, in face of such fearful danger!
But it was the household of Onesiphorus we intended to consider, and I have wandered far away from it. The Apostle writes: “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus.” (2 Timothy 1:16), and again: “Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.” The whole household is linked up with the loyalty of its head: the whole household is specially commended to the mercy of the Lord for Onesiphorus’s loyal and loving heart. Like Ittai of old, the whole household shared the rejection with its head. This is as it should be. May it be so indeed in our households!
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And the Lord is still rejected, and most today have turned away from Paul, and his teaching. Thousands upon thousands gladly accept salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ: but few there are today who are willing to go forth unto Him without the Camp, bearing His reproach. That is the test. Lord Jesus, Give us so to have our eyes fixed on Thee, our hearts filled with Thy love, that like Onesiphorus and his household we may esteem Thy reproach at its true worth! “Therefore sad and strange to them the splendors of the world must be, “O forgotten and rejected Jesus, we have looked on Thee!’ ”