I see that Dave Armstrong is using 2 Tim 1:16-18 as a prooftext to justify prayers for the dead. I’ll just touch on a few problems with his use of this text:
1.If Paul shared the Catholic view of Purgatory, then why would he merely offer a prayer in passing for the departed soul of Onesiphorous? Wouldn’t we expect Paul to celebrate a requiem mass on behalf of Onesiphorus?
2.Likewise, why doesn’t Paul pray to Mary, Queen of Heaven, to intercede on behalf of Onesiphorus?
3.It’s striking to see the way in which Armstrong misquotes Guthrie, to plant the false impression that Guthrie supports his interpretation. To the contrary, Guthrie is summarizing an interpretation he disagrees with as a preliminary step to then present his contrary interpretation.
4.Armstrong also passes over in silence the various commentators who take issue with his interpretation (e.g. Knight, Liefeld, Marshall, Mounce, Towner).
5.Assuming, for the sake of argument, that this is a prayer for the dead, how are the specifics of this prayer consistent with Catholic dogma? Paul is praying that Onesiphorus will find mercy on the Day of Judgment. But if Onesiphorus went to Purgatory when he died, then it’s a sure thing that he will find mercy on the Day of Judgment. By definition, Purgatory is reserved for heaven-bound decedents (in Catholic dogma).
Praying for the dead in Purgatory is a prayer to hasten their progress in Purgatory. To expedite their entrance into heaven. It’s not a prayer for postmortem salvation–as if their eternal fate still hangs in the balance.