What does 2 Timothy 1:17 mean?
ESV: but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me—
NIV: On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.
NASB: but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me—
CSB: On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he diligently searched for me and found me.
NLT: When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me.
KJV: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.
NKJV: but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me.
Verse Commentary:
The prior verse mentioned Onesiphorus as someone who remained loyal to Paul in his imprisonment. It seems this man provided reassurance, and most likely food and water, to Paul while Paul was under Roman arrest. However, Onesiphorus was not from Rome—he was in Ephesus when Timothy received this letter. This probably means he was the one tasked with delivering the letter to Timothy. Paul notes "when he arrived in Rome," clearly indicating Onesiphorus was there for a time, but was not originally from that city.

When he came to Rome, Onesiphorus made great effort to track down Paul. As a jailed criminal, Paul's location would have been difficult to determine. Rome was the capital city of an empire. More than one million people lived there in the first century. With record-keeping and jails being very different from what they are today, finding one man would have been a tall order. Eventually, however, Onesiphorus located Paul, offering important assistance and encouragement to him when others had turned away (2 Timothy 1:15).

According to the Orthodox tradition, Onesiphorus was a bishop at Colophon and later at Corinth. He supposedly became a martyr in Parium near Ephesus. However, these details are traditions from outside of Scripture and are uncertain. This is the only biblical book that speaks of Onesiphorus and his actions.
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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