Summary: Onesiphorus did a great service to the church by serving Paul.
2 Timothy 1:16-18 KJV The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:  But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.  The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.
2 Timothy 1:16-18 JB PHILLIPS But may the Lord have mercy on the household of Onesiphorus. Many times did that man put fresh heart into me, and he was not in the least ashamed of my being a prisoner in chains.  Indeed, when he was in Rome he went to a great deal of trouble to find me –  may the Lord grant he finds his mercy in that day! - and you well know in how many ways he helped me at Ephesus as well.
2 Timothy 1:16-18 Moffatt NT May the Lord show favour to the household of Onesiphorus, for many a time he braced me up; he was not ashamed of my imprisonment —  no, he made eager search for me when he reached Rome, and he found me  (may he find favour with the Lord on the great Day! The Lord grant it!). And you know very well what a help he was to me in Ephesus.
-Often from the tragic circumstances of captivity comes some of the most heroic tales. One such tale came during the Vietnam War.
Dr. Julius Segal wrote a book entitled Winning Life’s Toughest Battles in which he shared some of his observations after having worked with prisoners of war and the hostages that were in Iran. In the first chapter, he devoted much room to the idea of having friends that prisoners could talk to. He wrote that few individuals can cope with trauma alone. He noted that even the most powerful figures in the world need contact with others in the face of crisis.
In the book he told of Vice Admiral James Stockdale who spent 2,714 days as a POW in Vietnam.
On one occasion the North Vietnamese handcuffed Stockdale’s hands behind his back, locked his legs in heavy irons, and dragged him from his dark prison cell to sit in an un-shaded courtyard so other prisoners could see what happened to anyone who refused to cooperate.
Stockdale remained in that position for three days. Since he had not been in the sun for a long time, he soon felt weak, but the guards would not let him sleep. He was beaten repeatedly. After one beating, Stockdale heard a towel tapping out in prison code the letters: GBUJS. It was a message that he would never forget: “God Bless You, Jim Stockdale.”
In every episode of captivity in recent American history, POW’s and hostages have been sustained by ingeniously improvised lifelines of communication. In Vietnam, a clever tap code, in which the number and sequence of taps spelled out letters of the alphabet, became the prisoners’ chief means of communication. It was this code that sustained Jim Stockdale.
-Captivity has the capacity to bring out both the best and worst in people.
II. THE APOSTLE PAUL
A. His Final Days
-We have just read a small portion of the last words that Paul wrote. At some point prior to this last letter, he had been let out of prison by Nero. He had immediately settled back in to preaching the Gospel.
-There are some who speculate that it was during this interval that he went to Spain, where he had desired to go for quite some time. There were some connections that we are certain that he made during this time:
• He met with Titus in Crete.
• He enjoyed the company of Philemon and his new friend, Onesimus.
• He was reunited with Timothy in Ephesus.
-It is certain that he continued to pour wisdom, understanding, and grace into all of these men while they fellowshipped.
-But his freedom did not last long and suddenly he finds himself confined to a chain once more. He was arrested in Troas and hauled back to Rome and tossed back into a dungeon.
• Dark and dinghy.
• Not fit for humans to be in.
• Odors of sweat and dried blood permeate the place.
• The fear of torture hangs like a fog over it.
• The gloomy chambers of the Mamertine Prison.
-From this hole, Paul pens the words that we just read. I am so confident in the translation process that I believe that what Paul wrote in Koine Greek survives in our hands today as the Bible.
-Nero was about to take off the head of Paul somewhere around 67 A.D. The greatest New Testament missionary and church planter dies in disease-ridden and vermin-infested place. It doesn’t seem fair!