2 Timothy, Mercy & Refreshing

2 Timothy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:57
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Today we are in 2 Timothy 1:15-18. While you are turning to this passage, I have a question.
I was wondering this week how history will remember this time in which we are living. Have you ever wondered that? How will all that is going on be remembered? How will we be remembered?
What will they remember about us? What will they say about us?
In today’s passage, we find 3 people mentioned which are only found in this passage. Pay attention to what we remember about these three people.
2 Timothy 1:15–18 NIV
You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.
Let’s pray and ask the Lord to teach us what He wants us to learn from what He recorded here.


One thing that stands out to me as I read this and other passages Paul wrote, is that Paul was a man who had a lot of friends. Everywhere Paul went, he made relationships with the people to whom he ministered. And Paul did a good job keeping in touch with those people.
A good example of this is in the letter he sent to the believers in Rome. He wrote this before he went there, and yet he wrote greetings to all of the people he knew who had moved there.
Look at Romans 16 with me.
Romans 16 NIV
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon, of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Timothy, my co-worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my fellow Jews. I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings. Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Just scan the passage, and you will find 35 individuals mentioned by name, and a few that are not mentioned by name but by relationship (so-and-so’s mom or sister). Some of them were with Paul as the letter was being written, but about 30 were in Rome. These were people whom Paul had befriended, who were now living and ministering in Rome.
Paul befriended and invested in people. That was his life’s work. His ministry. As you read any of the letters he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write, you will find him writing personally to the whole church, and also mentioning individuals.
What is a friend?
Webster’s defines a friend as “one attached to another by affection or esteem,” or “a favored companion.”
A friend is more than an acquaintance, or someone who just clicks the ‘Friend’ button on Facebook. Friends have true connections. There is an affection between them. There is a bond between them. It is like roots of plants that intertwine. If something is done like pulling out one plant, it affects the other whose roots are intertwined.
Paul was attached to these people. He had affection for them, and considered them favored companions.
Friends are an important part of life. God created us to be in relationships.
God always has been, is and always will be in eternal relationship. He is a relational God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They relate to one another in complete unity; three persons who are One God.
When God created us in His image, He created us to be in relationship with Himself, and with others. Relationships are a part of being human. They are essential to us, and deeply rooted within us.
Just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit share a bond and a love for one another, so too, friends share a bond and a love between them. They are there for one another.
As Solomon wrote,
Proverbs 17:17 NIV
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
A friend is there for you when you need them.
None of us is perfect, and there are times we let our friends down. I know that is true of me. But generally speaking, a friend is there for you when you need them.
That is what makes a friend so special. The way they encourage you and build you up.
Because there is a bond between friends, that means that friends can do one of two things:
They can help and refresh us, or they can hurt us.

Friends can hurt us

I think we can all understand how a friend can hurt us. And a wound from a friend is more painful than a wound from an enemy.
In this passage, Phygelus and Hermogenes were friends who hurt Paul. There were others, but these were mentioned by name to Timothy. That indicates that Timothy would have known them, and that they were especially hurtful to Paul, as they had been dear friends, like Timothy.
How did they hurt Paul? How does a friend hurt us?
They deserted Paul. We are hurt when our friends desert us.
What is desertion?
Desertion is not when a friend cannot be there due to other circumstances. It does happen that when a friend is needing help, there are other circumstances in our lives which can keep us from being there. I know Jen experienced that when her mom was struggling. She was going back and forth to Reading almost weekly, and was not available for some friends here.
That is not desertion. That is inability.
Desertion is when a friend could be there, but chooses to not be there.
That is what Phygelus and Hermogenes did. They could have been there for Paul when he was imprisoned and tried. However, they chose to not be there. They deserted Paul when he needed help and encouragement.
Now, Let’s not make light of the situation. Paul was imprisoned, and Christians were being persecuted. They were being blamed for the burning of Rome. They were being accused of being enemies of the state, and of the people. They were being rounded up, imprisoned, and sent to the arena to die as entertainment for the masses.
For Phygelus and Hermogenes to stick around and try to help Paul would have put their own lives at risk. How many of us would risk our own lives for a friend? As much as we love them, it is a hard thing to put your life on the line.
So, on one hand, we cannot be too down on Phygelus and Hermogenes. Fear for one’s life can be a huge influence in making poor decisions; decisions that hurt others, that hurt our friends.
For Paul, even knowing the struggle they must have faced, it was hurtful when they deserted him. When we are in need, we long for friends to be there for us.
It truly hurts when a friend could be, but chooses to not be there. It is because there is a bond that is broken. A trust broken. It is like losing a bit of yourself, when one in whom you have invested, and with whom you created a bond breaks it.
An enemy could not inflict the kind of pain that a friend can.
bear illustration
Maybe we do need to be more selective in who we let in a friends…
But, having friends is not the problem. Even having good friends can hurt because we are all human. We all make self-centered choices at times. Those choices can truly hurt our friends.
Some people, after being hurt want to run and hide. They want to avoid being hurt again, so they will choose to not be close, to not be-friend another. This goes against our created design. And, it also is a wrong choice. When we do that, we are not functioning as God would have us function. We are not being a blessing to others that we could be.
For friends do no only hurt,

Friends can refresh us

After sharing about Phygelus and Hermogenes, which, by-the-way, only get one sentence, Paul shares about Onesiphorus, using a whole paragraph.
What does he say about Onesiphorus?
Let’s look at it again.
2 Timothy 1:16 NIV
May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.
What did Onesiphorus do for Paul? He refreshed him.
This word for refresh is rooted in the same word as cooling. Think of it like a cold drink on a hot day.
Coke after trip
Paul was hurting and discouraged. Then comes Onesiphorus, like a cold drink on after a really hot and tiring journey! He refreshed Paul. He brought Paul physical, emotional, and spiritual uplifting! He rejuvenated his energy. He lifted his spirits! He revived his hope and peace in the Lord.
And Onesiphorus did not just do this once. Paul says he often did this. Onesiphorus did not just do it, and say, okay, I’ve done my duty. He kept doing this over and over.
Paul goes on to say,
2 Timothy 1:17 NIV
On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.
The jail system of Rome was not like our prisons today. It is not well posted for visitors to be able to find friends and loved-ones who are incarcerated.
Onesiphorus had to travel about Rome inquiring about Paul.
Think about that for a moment. Onesiphorus was going around Rome, asking about Paul at a time with Christians were being persecuted. Many Christians were in hiding and suspicious of others. I am guessing that Onesiphorus did not have warm receptions, or find it easy to get information about where Paul was. That is why he had to search for him. This took time and effort. And, it involved a lot of risk.
Imagine the response when he was asking about Paul… “Where is Paul? That enemy of the state who is one of those Christians? Why are you looking for him? Are you a Christian?”
Searching for Paul, and then visiting with Paul had to involve risk for Onesiphorus. And yet, he did it. He took the risk. He was a true friend. A true friend who was not self-seeking, but self-sacrificing in order to refresh his friend, Paul.
And I believe that he paid the ultimate price for his work.
Look at the passage with me again.
2 Timothy 1:16–18 NIV
May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.
Notice that Paul says, “May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus.” He was not praying for Onesiphorus, but for his household. That alone, makes me think that Onesiphorus likely died because of his efforts to refresh Paul.
In verse 18, Paul writes, “May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day!”
What is “that day?”
That day is the day of Christ when he comes to take those who are His own to be with Him. We know that when he takes us, we will face a judgement for what we have done in this life.
1 Corinthians 3:10–15 NIV
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
This is not a judgement which will result in condemnation. Jesus took our condemnation for us.
Romans 8:1 NIV
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
This is a judgement to determine what rewards God will give us for what we have done in our lives.
Paul wants the Lord to give mercy or compassion to Onesiphorus in that judgement because of the mercy that Onesiphorus showed to him.
I believe that Paul prayed knowing that he would, for Jesus said in Matthew 5:7,
Matthew 5:7 NIV
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Onesiphorus was a true friend, a friend who refreshed. When Paul was in trouble, Onesiphorus showed mercy. He showed compassion. He showed more concern for Paul than he did for his own life. He brought Paul what he needed for encouragement when he needed it. He refreshed and strengthened Paul, even to the point of losing his life.
As Jesus said,
John 15:13 NIV
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Onesiphorus did that. He was a friend who refreshed.
As we consider this passage, we have to bring it home to ourselves.

What about me?

Put yourself in Paul’s shoes.

Have you been hurt?

Have you ben hurt by friends? Like I mentioned earlier, the wounds of a friend are deeper than the wounds of an enemy. Have you felt that hurt? Have you felt the desertion of friends?
It is easy to curse, and defame one who hurts us. It is easy to tear them down.
Notice that Paul did not do that. He mentions what Phygelus and Hermogenes did. But he did not pray for retribution on them. He did not say anything bad about them. I think he was hurt, but he had mercy and compassion on them.
Where did he learn this?
Jesus was betrayed by a friend, Judas. He did not speak ill of him. He did not say the word and have him drop dead. He simply told him to go do what he was going to do. He asked him if he was truly using a kiss to do this.
Then, when Peter denied him, he just looked at him.
Later, when Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus told the women to go tell his disciples, and Peter.
Jesus felt the hurt that can only come from a friend, yet he showed them compassion, and restored them.
Jesus even prayed for his enemies! So, wouldn’t he pray for his friends?
If you have been hurt, go to Jesus. Find your comfort in Him. Follow His example and show mercy to those who hurt you. Seek restoration if you can.

Have you been refreshed?

Have you been in difficult times and been refreshed by a friend?
Be like Paul. Write it down. Show gratitude for the refreshment. If they are still alive, let them know. If they are passed away, let their family know. Pray, and thank the Lord for those friends. Pray for them.

Are you hurting or refreshing?

Lastly, and I believe importantly, are you and I hurting or refreshing our friends?
Do we have friends in need? Are we willing to go and refresh them, even if it isn’t convenient? Are we willing to lay down our lives for a friend?
Let’s not be like Phygelus or Hermogenes. Let’s be like Onesiphorus.
Ask the Lord to open our eyes to see how we can refresh our friends this week.
Let’s show mercy, and then find mercy from our Lord!
Matthew 5:7 NIV
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
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