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Monday, November 7, 2016

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” (2Pet. 3:11)

Today's editorial falls under the category of what I like to call "great questions of the Bible."  It's in the above cited verse that we find the question under consideration today. "What manner of persons ought ye to be?"  It's the same as asking in today's vernacular: "What sort of people ought we to be in our Christian lives.  ("holiness and godliness").


That question was posed by Peter right after saying that there will be a time when everything pertaining to this earth is going to be destroyed.  This is commonly referred to as the Day of Judgment, but in reality, it's the Day of Sentencing.  But, he's asking about how our lives should be lived up until that time.


Is there an example given us in the Gospel?  Of course there's the old much-cited ones like Paul's advice in 1Cor. 11:1 where in essence he says "follow me as I follow Christ."  Or the advice of Paul about following "things" such as we read about in 2Tim. 2:22 and 1Tim. 6:11.


Perhaps you may remember some previous editorial lessons where we looked at individuals in the Bible for examples to emulate, to follow.  Guys like Nathaniel, who was described by Jesus as being "guileless."  Or, maybe Paul's "son in the faith."


How about a Christian that most know nothing about, or even those that do, don't know a whole lot about.  I'm speaking of a person in Paul's life by the name of Onesiphorus.  I truly think that he can serve us as a practical example of an everyday Christian.


You know, Onesiphorus is not mentioned as being a "great hero" of the Bible.  He's not considered to be a great "shaker and mover" of the early church.  He was, like us, an everyday Christian going through his life.  But, what few things we know about him teach us some valuable lessons for our lives.


Really the only things we know about Onesiphorus is found in Paul's second letter to Timothy.  In chapter 1, verses 16-18 we read these words: "May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me.  May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!  And you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus."


Then in chapter 4, verse 19 we see Paul requesting Timothy to "salute" the household of Onesiphorus.  Four short verses is all we have to show us our example for today.  But, we can learn a great lesson from them.  They provide us an answer to our signature question: "What sort of people are Christians supposed to be?"  In "holiness and godliness" simply means "in the service of Christ."


Let's break down what Onesiphorus can teach us in those few verses.  Notice Paul says that he "often refreshed me" (helped and provided for me) and that he was not "ashamed of my chains."  (Being a prisoner).  But when he was in Rome, "he eagerly searched for me and found me."


Then Paul offers a prayer in his behalf, IE: that he may find mercy "in that day."  (Judgment).  At the close of vs. 18 notice these words: that both Timothy and the church at Ephesus knew "very well" what service he had rendered there at Ephesus.  Not only was Onesiphorus a loyal servant of Christ when traveling, he was also recognized as such back home.


In 2Tim. 4:19 Paul says something that I feel that many people don't fully understand.  Among others, Paul tells Timothy to "salute" the "household", the family, of Onesiphorus.  "Salute," as used there, means far more than to greet or "say hi" to.  It's a Greek word meaning to "enfold" or to "embrace" someone.  We might say to day, "give them a big hug for me."


So, what is it that we know about this Onesiphorus that helps answer the question of how we should be in our Christian lives?  He and his family were "servants of Christ." That he was not "ashamed of the Gospel of Christ" (Ref: Rom. 1:16 and 2Tim. 2:15).  Not "ashamed" of being associated with a preacher who was imprisoned for doing just that - preaching the Gospel.  We read in 2Tim. 1:15 that others apparently were "ashamed" and had left Paul.


Onesiphorus stands in contrast to them (Phygelus and Hermogenes) and their service to Christ.  In a word, Onesiphorus is "a servant."  And he's the kind of "servant" that all of us fellow servants should strive to be.  He is a great example of the "manner of persons" that everyday Christians should be.


"Salute" those Onesiphorus's among us.


Respectfully submitted,

Ron Covey




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