Admittedly, his name is strange, at least in our culture.
When I hear it said, it sounds to me like someone just sneezed and is in need of a well-intentioned "God Bless You" in response.
I guess it shouldn't seem too strange as it reminds me of the name of a character from Sesame Street - remember SNUFFLEUPAGUS?
Actually there is an importance to this Bible character's name (I'm speaking of Onesiphorus - I am assuming you realize that Snuffleupagus is not in the Bible). The name Onesiphorus means "profit-bearer" and that is exactly what he was, at least for the Apostle Paul. This man is only mentioned twice in the Bible - both times it can be found in 2 Timothy. Paul knew the value of an Onesiphorus. I have learned that value as well.
From what we can glean from his limited mentions in Scripture, Onesimus was a member of the church at Ephesus. His family were also believers. But his being a "profit-bearer" to Paul is seen in one word in 2 Timothy 1:16 where Paul, from a dungeon awaiting his own imminent execution, writes these words:
"The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains."
What value did Onesiphorus bring to Paul. He "refreshed" him. This word speaks of a cool breeze when the body is overheated. For Paul, Onesiphorus was like a clear, cold glass of water when his mouth was severely dry and parched. Onesiphorus "refreshed" Paul. He had a ministry of "refreshment" in his life. And when did he deliver this "cool breeze" of friendship? The verse said he did it "often." This is not speaking of an isolated incident. This is referring to a pattern of life.
Tell me, do you need someone to bring you some spiritual refreshment? Notice in the verse that Onesiphorus did this for Paul even while he was in chains. Remember that as Paul writes he is a prisoner in Rome at the hands of Nero, one of the most cruel persecutors of the church in all of history. Paul was Nero's prized prisoner. Nero must have relished the Apostle's soon coming execution. As a result, to identify with Paul, especially in person, was to put your life in danger.
But that is what those who bring the ministry of refreshment do - they take risks. Onesiphorus sure did. Paul goes on in verse 17 and tell us that:
"When he (Onesiphorus) was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me."
He went all the way to Rome from Ephesus to bring refreshment to Paul. He put his own life in danger going from jail to jail and dungeon to dungeon looking for the Apostle. And he didn't do it reluctantly or out of duty. The verse says he searched for Paul "eagerly." And he searched until he found him. Failure was not an option.
The Apostle Paul was in a pit and needed refreshment. Onesiphorus would do just that! In my posting tomorrow I'll show you just how valuable this refreshment was to Paul. To keep the Sesame Street theme going - tomorrow I'll bring "Bert and Ernie" into the story.