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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Ο᾿νησιφορος , profit-bringing), a believer of Ephesus, who came to Rome during the second captivity of Paul in that city (A.D. cir. 64), and having found out the apostle, who was in custody of a soldier, to whose arm his own was chained, was "not ashamed of his chain," but attended him frequently, and rendered him all the services in his power. This faithful attachment, at a time of calamity and desertion, was fully appreciated and well remembered by the apostle, who in his Epistle to Timothy carefully records the circumstance; and,. after charging him to salute in his name "the household of Onesiphorus," expresses the most earnest and grateful wishes for his spiritual welfare (2 Timothy 1:16-18; comp. 4:19). It would appear from this that Onesiphorus had then quit Rome (Kitto). It has even been made a question whether this friend of the apostle was still living when the letter to Timothy was written, because in both instances Paul speaks of "the household" (in 2 Timothy 1:16, δ ó η ἔλεος κύριος τῷ Ο᾿νησιφόρου οἴκῳ ), and not separately of Onesiphorus himself. If we infer that he was not living, then we have in 2 Timothy 1:18 almost an instance of the apostolic sanction of the practice of praying for the dead. But the probability is that other members of the family were also active Christians; and as Paul wished to remember them at the same time, he grouped them together under the comprehensive τὸν Ο᾿ν . Οικον (2 Timothy 4:19), and thus delicately recognized the common merit, as a sort of family distinction. The mention of Stephanas in 1 Corinthians 16:17 shows that we need not exclude him from the Στεφανᾶ οικον in 1 Corinthians 1:16. It is evident from 2 Timothy 1:18 (ὅσα ἐν Ε᾿φέσῳ διηκόνησε ) that Onesiphorns had his home at Ephesus; though if we restrict the salutation near the close of the epistle (4:19) to his family, he himself may possibly have been with Paul at Rome when the latter wrote to Timothy. Nothing authentic is known of him beyond these notices. According to a tradition in Fabricius (Lux Evang. p. 117), he became bishop of Corone, in Messenia. I

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Onesiphorus'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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