Read 2 Timothy 1:15-18
The times were tough. Nero the tyrant was in charge. Known for capturing Christians and burning them in his garden as a source of light, Emperor Nero did not like followers of Jesus Christ. He persecuted Christians.
It was a scary, tumultuous time to be a Christ-follower. And Paul was living the persecution first-hand — imprisoned for a second time and left in a dungeon to die. So it makes sense that his friends had abandoned him and left him there, alone in prison.
Even his good friends from Asia left Paul alone — the ones in Ephesus who had cried with him when they realized they’d never see each other again. (See Acts 20.) They were the ones to whom he had sent Timothy, his very best. Yes, it was that bad.
There was one friend, however, who remained faithful. There was one man who went out of his way and took great measure to love Paul in the darkest dungeon of persecution. Onesiphorus found ways to bring the light of Jesus Christ to his brother, the one left to die in that darkness that had left Paul’s spirit feeling it as well. Onesiphorus found ways to help Paul see the Real Light even as he lay chained in the dark.
He risked his own dungeon moments by visiting Paul in his.
I wonder if I would have been such a bold and faithful friend. Even if I had, could I have brought that kind of light, that kind of refreshment to a friend such as this?
Paul had given his everything to following Jesus Christ. He’d followed Him to the literal ends of the earth, even into the depths of dungeons. He’d done it so that Onesiphorus could know the light of life. Real living. Eternal and free. But I think it would have been easy to justify myself right out of working hard to find Paul. It would have been easy to convince myself he didn’t need encouraging.
I think I could have even found a way to pretend like it was for the best. To not bring further attention to my family. Or to Paul. Not risk being found out myself.
There is much to learn here about trusting God for the encouraging of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters. Onesiphorus was a hero of Christian friendship. We can learn much from him.
So let me ask — are you that kind of friend?