2 Timothy 1.15-The Majority of Christians in Asia Deserted Paul with Phygelus and Hermogenes the Most Prominent

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Second Timothy: Second Timothy 1:15-The Majority of Christians in Asia Deserted Paul with Phygelus and Hermogenes the Most Prominent-Lesson # 21

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Wenstrom Bible Ministries

Pastor-Teacher Bill Wenstrom

Tuesday March 17, 2015

www.wenstrom.org

Second Timothy: Second Timothy 1:15-The Majority of Christians in Asia Deserted Paul with Phygelus and Hermogenes the Most Prominent

Lesson # 21

2 Timothy 1:15 You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. (NASB95)

Paul is employing the figure of “asyndeton” in order to mark a transition from exhorting Timothy to remain faithful to his apostolic teaching to a discussion of those Christians who were unfaithful to Paul and his apostolic teaching.

“You are aware of the fact” is the verb oida (οἶδα), which means “to be aware of an accepted fact” which indicates that Timothy was “aware of the fact” that the majority of the Christians in the Roman province of Asia abandoned Paul and Phygelus and Hermogenes were the foremost of these Christians.

“All who are in Asia” is composed of the following: (1) nominative masculine plural form of the adjective pas (πᾶς), “all” (7) nominative masculine plural form of the definite article ho (), “who” (8) preposition en (ἐν), “in” (9) articular dative feminine singular form of the proper noun Asia (Ἀσία), “Asia.”

The adjective pas does not means “all” referring to each and every individual in the Roman province of Asia but rather it means “the majority” in this province deserted the apostle Paul when he was arrested by the Roman authorities.

What Paul is saying is much like we would say in America that the whole country watched the events of 911 transpire on television and we know of course not each and every person would have done so but the idea behind the statement is that a good majority in the country did watch the events of 911.

This interpretation is clearly indicated by Paul’s statement in verse 16 in which he expresses his Spirit inspired desire that the Lord would grant the house of Onesiphorus mercy because he often refreshed Paul and was not ashamed of the fact that Paul was incarcerated.

The proper name Asia (Ἀσία) refers to the Roman province of Asia which is a peninsula located between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea with the Armenian highlands in the East and is now the western portion of modern day Turkey.

“Turned away” is the third person plural aorist passive indicative form of the verb apostrephō (ἀποστρέφω), which means “to desert” in the sense of withdrawing from someone usually without intent to return and implies that the person left may be weakened but not destroyed by one’s absence.

Therefore, this verb speaks of the majority of Christians in the Roman province of Asia and Hermogenes and Phygelus the foremost of these “deserting” the apostle Paul in the sense that they withdrew from him in the face of danger from the Roman authorities who arrested Paul.

It is implying that they left Paul in a weakened state but he was not destroyed by their desertion of him.

The middle voice of the verb is an indirect middle which would indicate that in order to protect themselves from being arrested by the Roman authorities, the majority of Christians in the Roman province of Asia deserted the apostle Paul with Hermogenes and Phygelus the most prominent of these individuals.

“Among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes” denotes that Phygelus and Hermogenes were the two most prominent Christians who belonged to this majority of Christians living in Asia who deserted Paul.

Phygelus and Hermogenes were both Christians who lived in the Roman province of Asia who deserted the apostle Paul upon his arrest by the Roman authorities and subsequent imprisonment.

They appear to be a prominent Christians since they are singled out from all the other Christians in Asia who deserted Paul, thus, they could have in fact been pastor-teachers since these constituted the leadership of the churches who served under the authority of the apostles like Paul.

Second Timothy 1:15 You are well aware of this fact that the majority of those who are living in Asia for their own protection deserted me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. (My translation)

Second Timothy 1:15 marks a transition from Paul exhorting Timothy to remain faithful to a discussion regarding those Christians who did not remain faithful to Paul and his apostolic teaching.

Here in verse 15, the apostle states that Timothy was well aware of this fact that the majority of those living in Asia for their own protection deserted him, among whom were Phygelus and Hermogenes.

So Paul’s language here in verse 15 makes clear that this news of this mass defection from the apostle Paul because of his arrest and subsequent imprisonment for the gospel was well-known in the Christian communities in Asia.

Remember Timothy was serving in Ephesus at the time of Paul’s arrest and in fact, he was Paul’s delegate to the church in that city which was the largest city in the province.

So he would have first-hand knowledge of this mass desertion in this province.

Now, these individuals in Asia were of course Christians because deserting him implies that they were once loyal and friendly to him and had some kind of relationship with Paul, thus, this would rule out the non-Christians.

These Christians in Asia deserted Paul in the sense that they withdrew from him in the face of danger from the Roman authorities who arrested Paul.

They withdraw from him in order to protect themselves from being arrested or harassed by the Roman authorities.

Thus, they were sinning by not trusting the Lord which resulted in their living in fear of the Roman authorities and imprisonment.

Paul is employing hyperbole because not each and every Christian abandoned him but rather he is saying that the majority did so.

This is clearly indicated by Paul’s statement in verse 16 in which he expresses his Spirit inspired desire that the Lord would grant the house of Onesiphorus mercy because he often refreshed Paul and was not ashamed of the fact that Paul was incarcerated.

When Paul speaks of “Asia” he is referring to the Roman province of Asia which made up a large part of the western segment of modern Turkey.

It is a peninsula located between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea with the Armenian highlands in the East and is now the western portion of modern day Turkey.

To the northeast of this province lay Bithynia and to the east were Galatia, Lycaonia and Pisidia and to the southeast Lycia.

It comprised nearly one-third of the west and southwest end of the blunt peninsula known as Asia Minor.

Asia was the richest part of the great peninsula and contained the whole western coastline and the adjacent islands.

The great cities of this area were ancient centers of Hellenic civilization with its science, philosophy and literature.

Asia was an area rich in resources and established industry.

Paul reached Asia on his third missionary journey (Acts 19:10) after having been prevented from going there on his second journey (Acts 16:6).

The apostle Paul singles out two Christians in particular who deserted him upon his arrest and subsequent imprisonment, namely Phygelus and Hermogenes who are never mentioned anywhere else in the Greek New Testament.

These two appear to be prominent Christians since they are singled out from all the other Christians in Asia who deserted Paul, thus, they could have in fact been pastor-teachers since these constituted the leadership of the churches who served under the authority of the apostles like Paul.

The fact that Paul mentions these two by name also makes clear that both men were known by Timothy.

The singling out of these two men could also mean that they were the ring leaders of this desertion of Paul.

When Paul mentions the faithfulness of Onesiphorus in verse 16 who encouraged the apostle and was not ashamed of his imprisonment implies a contrast with Phygelus and Hermogenes and the majority of Christians in Asia who deserted him.

The contrast is between Onesiphorus not being ashamed of Paul’s imprisonment for the gospel and encouraging him whereas Phygelus and Hermogenes and the majority of Christians in Asia were ashamed of his imprisonment and did not give him encouragement during this adversity.

All these Christians who Paul mentions deserted him when he was imprisoned for the gospel were in apostasy.

This means that they were failing to obey the doctrine to love one another as Christ loves (John 13:34).

By deserting Paul, they were refusing to obey the Lord’s command to love one another.

Thus, they were rejecting the gospel which taught Christians to love one another as Christ loves.

This constituted their apostasy.

When we use the term “apostasy” we are using it exclusively of the Christian who is living in habitual disobedience to the will of the Father which is revealed by the Holy Spirit through the communication of the Word of God.

This in turn results in God the Father disciplining this type of Christian.

There are three categories of divine discipline (punishment) for the disobedient child of God: (1) Warning (Rev. 3:20; James 5:9) (2) Intense (Ps. 38:1; 2 Th. 2:11). (3) Dying (Jer. 9:16; 44:12; Phlp. 3:18-19; Re. 3:16; Ps. 118:17-18; 1 Jo. 5:16).

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