What does 2 Timothy 1:16 mean?
ESV: May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains,
NIV: May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.
NASB: The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains;
CSB: May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.
NLT: May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains.
KJV: The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
NKJV: The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain;
Verse Commentary:
Paul again switches topics, this time from those who have deserted him to a person who had blessed him: Onesiphorus. This man is also mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:19; there it is suggested that he is with Timothy in Ephesus, along with Prisca and Aquila. Based on his name, Onesiphorus was likely a Gentile.

This verse notes several positive attributes of Onesiphorus. Not only has Onesiphorus not been "ashamed" to associate with a despised criminal like Paul, he has provided much-needed comfort and support. He likely brought food and drink to Paul, frequently visiting him in jail. His ministry was one of presence, focusing on encouragement to Paul during his most difficult days. As Paul taught earlier (2 Timothy 1:8, 12), Onesiphorus was not ashamed of Paul's imprisonment.

If Paul's reference is literal, he was physically "chained" during this second imprisonment. This may have been similar to Peter's imprisonment in Acts 12:6–7. Paul also mentioned being in chains several times in Acts (Acts 21:33; 28:20), as well as his other letters (Ephesians 6:20; Colossians 4:18), and again in 2 Timothy 2:9.
Verse Context:
Second Timothy 1:8–18 encourages Timothy to be brave and protective of his faith. Paul reminds his dear friend Timothy that the Spirit of God grants Christians spiritual power. As a result, they should not be afraid to associate with persecuted brothers and sisters. Timothy is encouraged to hold to accurate, healthy Christian teachings. Paul also refers to various ministry partners who have supported—or abandoned—him.
Chapter Summary:
Paul introduces himself, then recaps Timothy's path to becoming a minister. He reminds Timothy of how his family brought him up in the faith, and then how Timothy served faithfully with Paul in the past. Paul then focuses on two primary ideas. First, that Timothy's background in the faith should give him the courage to stand fast against hard times. Second, that Timothy should use that courage to defend the truth of the gospel message. Paul will use these points and examples as the foundation for the rest of his letter.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 establishes Timothy's spiritual background. Paul expresses gratitude for Timothy, by reminding him of his past, in order to set the stage for later teachings. Paul first expresses gratitude for Timothy's prior faithfulness, and reminds him of how God called him into ministry. From that point, Paul encourages Timothy to be brave and to guard the truth of the gospel message. Later chapters will explain why Paul feels these traits are necessary, both for the sake of the world and for Timothy in general.
Book Summary:
Second Timothy is the last New Testament letter written by Paul. Paul writes these words while awaiting execution by Rome. At this time, around AD 67, Timothy was leading the church in Ephesus. Paul writes to Timothy in order to encourage him. Paul is facing the worst of all hardships: his own impending death. So, he encourages Timothy to stand strong in his faith, with a reliance on the written Word of God. This letter echoes many of the themes Paul uses in his other letters.
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