Onesiphorus: The apostle Paul prayed for the dead?


Paul's prayer for Onesiphorus (2 Timoteo 1:18) It gives permission to pray for the dead?

Some have tried to assert this position. The Roman Catholic theologians often make use of this, in an attempt to defend their doctrine of prayer for the dead. Unfortunately, even some Protestants have lost this position, despite the lack of solid evidence, and despite the many tests that are present in the Script against this practice.

The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chain; rather, when he came to Rome, He sought me diligently, and found me. The Lord grant him to find mercy from him on that day. You know very well how many services he rendered me in Ephesus. (2Timoteo 1:16-18)

In the first place, The following article from The Catholic Encyclopedia (Online) It presents an authoritative position regarding the issue.

“In his second letter to Timothy (I, 16-18; IV, 19) St. Paul speaks of Onesiphorus in a way that seems to imply that the latter was already dead: 'May the Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus’ – how to look at a family that needs consolation. Then, after mentioning the faithful service rendered by him to the apostle Paul in prison in Rome, comes the prayer for Onesiphorus' May the Lord grant him to find mercy of the Lord in that day’ (Judgment Day), finally, in salute to the house of Onesiphorus it is mentioned again, without mentioning the man himself. The question is: What had become of him? It was dead, as he would naturally understand what St. Paul writes? Or, that for any other cause she separated permanently from his family? The first is by far the simplest and most natural hypothesis, and if you accept, we have here an example of the Apostle's prayer for the soul of a deceased benefactor”

The text

In 2 Timoteo 1, there is a form of prayer, on behalf of Onesiphorus (v. 16). subsequently, in verse 18, the apostle prays for Onesiphorus himself. He asks the Lord that this brother may “find mercy” in “that day”, which it is obviously the day of judgment.

As regards the verbs, they are all in the past, and since only his family is mentioned later in 4:19, Some have speculated that Onesiphorus was dead and that this would be a test (only) confirming the doctrine of prayer for the dead.


In response, This must consider that:

  1. There is no hard evidence that Onesiphorus was dead. The arguments in favor of his death are all based on assumptions.
  2. For the fact that his actions will speak to the past is perfectly understandable since he was no longer in Rome.
  3. The fact that Paul did not speak of him in 4:19, and he sent greetings to those of Ephesus, It is not of concern, as Onesiphorus himself could be somewhere else and not in Ephesus. It could be on a mission of evangelization or could have moved away to another place for a long time, we do not know, given that Paul does not say anything about it, He does not say that he was dead and does not say where he was. We only know that he was not there with family.
  4. The fact that Paul prayed for this brother is proof in itself that he was not dead, because there is not a shred of evidence in the New Testament showing that the prayers for the dead are permitted.
  5. The writers of the New Testament did not consider the apocryphal books as inspired and authoritative. Despite knew them, non li citarono mai, This is the clearest proof that they did not consider them the same authority of the Old Testament documents.
  6. se Onesiphorus, by godly, He had been dead, there would be no need to pray for God's mercy, he had been saved, He was already a saint, and that mercy from God had already.
  7. If Onesiphorus was dead as an apostate instead (although on this point there is no evidence), Paul's prayer for his “mercy” It would be futile, as mercy is given on the basis of a personal relationship with the Lord, not on that of another (Ezekiel 18:20; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Furthermore, the wicked dead can not leave their place of torment (Luca 16:26), and their punishment is “eternal” (Matteo 25:46).

Consequently, This text of the second letter of Paul to Timothy does not even come close to providing the proof coveted by Catholics to the validity of the prayers for the dead.

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1 Comment
  1. Alessio Rando dice

    Thanks but attending the Pentecostals doesn't interest me: when I read that believe they speak in other languages, I immediately became suspicious, Indeed consco well the passage where Paul says that the gift of speaking in other languages ​​ceased sarbbe!!

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