In the second epistle to Timothy, Paul mentions a man named Onesiphorus. He is only mentioned twice and both times it is in this epistle. Based on Paul's choice of words, many scholars believe that Onesiphorus had recently died because in 2 Timothy he sends his blessing and greeting to the family of Onesiphorus rather than Onesiphorus and his family. Other scholars argue that the term family of Onesiphorus also includes Onesiphorus himself or that he was presently not in Ephesus at the time with his family and Paul was aware of that. Which argument is correct? We simply do not know.
In 2 Timothy 1:16-18, Paul first mentions Onesiphorus. In these brief verses, we actually learn much about his character. Paul describes Onesiphoros as "refreshing" him. The word Paul uses is "anapsuchó" which means "refresh, revive, comfort" (Strong's Greek 404). It comes from two words which when put together could best be translated into English as the idiom "a breath of fresh air".
Paul's letter indicated that Onesiphorus had been in Rome and while he was there, he diligently, earnestly, zealously (spoudaiós-Strong's Greek 4709) sought to locate Paul who was imprisoned and may have at this time been under house arrest. Paul tells us that unlike others, Onesiphorus was not ashamed of Paul's chain but instead sought to encourage and bring whatever comfort he could to Paul.
This was not the first time Onesiphorus had ministered to Paul. He reminds Timothy that he is well acquainted with the many ways Onesiphorus had ministered to Paul while he had been in Ephesus.
His very name means "to bring profit" or "bringing a profit". Paul's accolade seems to say that the name fit the character of this man. What sort of friend are we?