Barnes notes to the Bible:
The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day - The day of judgment; notes at 2 Timothy 1:12. This proves that Onesiphorus was then alive, as Paul would not offer prayer for him if he was dead. The Papists, indeed, argue from this in favor of praying for the dead - assuming from 2 Timothy 4:19, that Onesiphorus was then dead. But there is no evidence of that. The passage in 2 Timothy 4:19, would prove only that he was then absent from his family.
OK, what does the verse say?
19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, *and the household of Onesiphorus.
Only proves he was then absent from his family? Oh, I get it! Barnes thinks 2 Timothy chapter 4 is a transcript of a phone call!
THEN St Paul would know things like Onesiphorus not likely to return to his family until next week.
But what if Timothy had no contact with the family till next week? How could Paul still know he would not meet Onesiphorus in person?
Oh, I get it, too! Onesiphorus was with St Paul. But ... why did not Paul then rather say "Onesiphorus greets his family"?
And of course Barnes knows better whether St Paul considered himself forbidden to pray for the dead (in spite of no such tradition surviving at all!) than Catholics could know from tradition whether Onesiphorus was alive when this was written ...
But perhaps Barnes has some supplementary information on 2 Timothy 4:19?
Salute Prisca and Aquila - Prisca, or Priscilla, was the wife of Aquila, though her name is sometimes mentioned first. In regard to their history, see the notes at Romans 16:3. They were at Rome when Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, but afterward went into Asia Minor, which was the native place of Aquila Acts 18:2, and where they probably died.
And the household of Onesiphorus; - see the notes on 2 Timothy 1:16.
OK, let us get back to Barnes notes for 2 Timothy 1:16 (after of course checking with some other things on the page for his comments on chapter 4, if he is as concise on them!):
The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus - The family of Onesiphorus - for so the word house is often used. He was himself still living 2 Timothy 1:18, but not improbably then absent from his home; compare the notes at 2 Timothy 4:19. He was evidently of Asia, and is the only one who is mentioned from that region who had showed the apostle kindness in his trials. He is mentioned only in this Epistle, and nothing more is known of him. The record is entirely honorable to him, and for his family the apostle felt a warm interest on account of the kindness which he had showed to him in prison. The ecclesiastical traditions also state that he was one of the seventy disciples, and was ultimately Bishop of Corone. But there is no evidence of this. There is much force in the remark of the Editor of the Pictorial Bible, that “the pretended lists of the 70 disciples seem to have been made out on the principle of including all the names incidentally mentioned in the sacred books, and not otherwise appropriated.”
For he oft refreshed me - That is, showed me kindness, and ministered to my needs.
And was not ashamed of my chain - Was not ashamed to be known as a friend of one who was a prisoner on account of religion. Paul was bound with a chain when a prisoner at Rome; Philemon 1:13-14, Philemon 1:16; Colossians 4:3, Colossians 4:18; Philemon 1:10; see the notes at Acts 28:20.
Oh, in verse 16 we know he was still alive, because in verse 18 St Paul would otherwise have been praying for a dead man, which the Church ever since the Reformation (which was some 15 centuries after St Paul, precisely as Alexander Graham Bell above alluded to also was closer to two millennia after St Paul) has known to be illicit.
But of course he knew so from the traditions, then?
Not really. Here is what he says of them:
The ecclesiastical traditions also state that he was one of the seventy disciples, and was ultimately Bishop of Corone. But there is no evidence of this. There is much force in the remark of the Editor of the Pictorial Bible, that “the pretended lists of the 70 disciples seem to have been made out on the principle of including all the names incidentally mentioned in the sacred books, and not otherwise appropriated.”
OK, he maybe knows Onesiphorus was still alive (though the scenario takes some thinking through) by some other token, like another passage in the Bible?
Well ... it is just that ... according to Barnes:
He is mentioned only in this Epistle, and nothing more is known of him.
And what about the words he has to say about the tradition just mentioned, that Onesiphorus was one of the Seventy and that he was "ultimately" (or perhaps rather: had been before he died and St Paul wrote 2 Timothy) Bishop of Corone?
There is much force in the remark of the Editor of the Pictorial Bible, that “the pretended lists of the 70 disciples seem to have been made out on the principle of including all the names incidentally mentioned in the sacred books, and not otherwise appropriated.”
Ah, that is how one shall deal with ecclesiastical tradition prior to the Reformation. At least if it contradicts or even by and large tends to somewhat contradict the Reformation! But THAT attitude is precisely what Modernists are applying to Genesis! With, of course, Scientific Revolution in the place of Reformation.
I think I mentioned both Modernism and Atheism are culturally Protestant things, if so I here mention it again, if maybe not at least I do so now. I think we have a case.
Unless of course a Protestant can expressly show a NT or GT passage forbidding prayers for the dead. Citing the ban on necromancy begs the question. There is a better case for calling organ donations from the brain dead cannibalism than for calling prayers for the dead necromancy. There is a better case, because there is one. Organs are harvested while organ tissue (normally part of human body which is alive by presence of human soul) is still organ tissue that is alive. There is a priori none for calling prayers for the dead necromancy, unless you are really stuck in the Odyssey and Aeneid and think that because Ulysses and Aeneas were guilty of necromancy (by a method involving them in diabolical illusions) so must every Catholic be who prays for the dead, even if he is - unlike Ulysses - not asking them questions about matters at home or of their future.
Calvin pretended Jews did not start praying for the dead until the time of Rabbi Akiba, have I seen in the Haydock comment to II Maccabees ... the one text cited even more by Catholics than 2 Timothy 1 for prayers for the dead. Because of course, II Maccabees, even if it were just historical truth rather than divine such, proves the contrary about the Jewish custom of prayers for the dead.
Maybe Barnes admired Calvin, I do not. I know from C. S. Lewis (Reflections on the Psalms) that he considered the book of Jonah at least possibly a pious novel. Catholic as I am, I do not entertain such doubts "even" about Tobit, which Calvin cut out of the Bible (along with others during Reformation).
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
St Dorothy, Virgin and Martyr