Day 346: Philemon

(This post is Part 2 of Day 346. For those reading through the Bible on this commentary, please make sure to read Paul's Epistle to Titus (Part 1 of Day 346) before continuing with Philemon.)

(Paul's epistle to Philemon was the thirteenth book of the section of the New Testament known as the Pauline Epistles. This letter was written at the same time as Paul's letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians, with all three being delivered by Tychicus. These letters were written by Paul around 64 AD from Rome during his time in prison. This letter was different than the previous twelve from Paul in that this was a personal letter from Paul concerning a specific non-church issue with an individual. Onesimus was a run-away slave of Philemon whom we saw in Paul's letter to the Colossians was from Colossae. At the time of the writing of this letter, Onesimus was with Paul in Rome. Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon along with this letter. The purpose of this letter was to encourage Philemon to forgive and restore Onesimus.)

Philemon 1
1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved and fellow-worker,

(Paul wrote to Philemon.)

2 and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the church in thy house:

(Paul mentioned church in a house.)

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(These first three verses were Paul's introduction. The rest of this short letter was written to encourage Philemon not to punish Onesimus. Everything Paul wrote was in the most positive fashion possible. With each sentence, we will cover both what Paul wrote and how what he wrote actually constrained Philemon to forgive and receive Onesimus...)

4 I thank my God always, making mention of thee in my prayers,

(Paul thanked God for Philemon and prayed for him.)

5 hearing of thy love, and of the faith which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints;

(Paul had heard of Philemon's love and faith toward Christ and the saints.)

6 that the fellowship of thy faith may become effectual, in the knowledge of every good thing which is in you, unto Christ.

(Paul prayed that Philemon's love and faith would be proven in his actions. While that sentence was extremely positive, it also set the foundation that Paul could expect Philemon to do the right thing.)

7 For I had much joy and comfort in thy love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through thee, brother.

(Paul stated that he had much joy over Philemon because of what other believers had testified concerning Philemon's love. Paul made Philemon aware there would be many people who could be witnesses to however Philemon would choose to respond to Onesimus. It was time for Paul to make his request...)

8 Wherefore, though I have all boldness in Christ to enjoin thee that which is befitting,
9 yet for love's sake I rather beseech, being such a one as Paul the aged, and now a prisoner also of Christ Jesus:

(Paul stated he could make his request boldly, but was going to instead beseech Philemon for love's sake. Paul referred to himself as “Paul the aged” and reminded Philemon he (Paul) was a prisoner. Paul essentially warned Philemon he (Paul) could have approached this in a less positive manner.)

10 I beseech thee for my child, whom I have begotten in my bonds, Onesimus,

(Paul stated his request concerned Onesimus...)

11 who once was unprofitable to thee, but now is profitable to thee and to me:

(Onesimus had been unprofitable towards Philemon (he had runaway) but now was profitable to Onesimus and to Paul: Paul vouched for Onesimus.)

12 whom I have sent back to thee in his own person, that is, my very heart:

(Paul stated he had sent Onesimus back with this letter...reminding Philemon that he owed Paul.)

13 whom I would fain have kept with me, that in thy behalf he might minister unto me in the bonds of the gospel:

(Paul spoke very highly of Onesimus. Paul stated he would have liked for Onesimus to stay with him...and the benefit Paul would have received would have been credited to Philemon. This implied Philemon missed an opportunity to gain spiritual value through sowing Onesimus into Paul's ministry.)

14 but without thy mind I would do nothing; that thy goodness should not be as of necessity, but of free will.

(However, Paul felt it more important to send Onesimus to Philemon because keeping Onesimus would have been taking from Philemon, instead of giving Philemon the opportunity to choose to sow Onesimus into Paul's ministry and gain spiritual value. Again, Paul implied Philemon owed Paul.)

15 For perhaps he was therefore parted from thee for a season, that thou shouldest have him for ever;

(After showing Philemon that he missed out on gaining because Onesimus was returned to him, Paul proposed (theorized) that it may have been for Philemon's benefit Onesimus left and came to Paul because now Onesimus may stay with Philemon forever. The implication being that Onesimus was going to leave eventually and if Onesimus had not left when he did, he may never have returned to Philemon...)

16 no longer as a servant, but more than a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much rather to thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

(Paul made the further point that Onesimus would no longer only be a servant. Onesimus would be a servant and a brother in the Lord: a believer. Again, this was another possible benefit of Onesimus leaving when he did. If he had left at another time, he may not have become a believer. Paul presented this great news which Philemon could not be anything but happy about...unless Philemon did not want to demonstrate Christian love. Remember, this epistle was the Word of God. Do you believe the Holy Spirit would work through believers today to approach other believers in the same fashion that Paul approached Philemon?)

17 If then thou countest me a partner, receive him as myself.

(Paul connected Philemon's response to Onesimus with Philemon's perspective on Paul...through an IF/THEN. If Philemon did not receive Onesimus, Philemon would be stating he did not see Paul as a partner.)

18 But if he hath wronged thee at all, or oweth thee aught, put that to mine account;

(Paul said if Onesimus owed Philemon that Paul would be responsible for what was owed. This effectively prevented Philemon from punishing or not receiving Onesimus because Philemon had been damaged. Paul removed one of Philemon's "outs" in fulfilling Paul's request.)

19 I Paul write it with mine own hand, I will repay it: that I say not unto thee that thou owest to me even thine own self besides.

(Paul assured Philemon this offer was coming from Paul...and then Paul reminded Philemon that Philemon owed Paul. Paul essentially approached Philemon through "fear of loss". If Philemon was not going to fulfill Paul's request, Paul could request that Philemon repay Paul what Philemon owed.)

20 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my heart in Christ.

(Paul made a request that Philemon would give him joy and refresh him...just as Paul had stated in verse 7 that Philemon had done for many others. Paul was reminding Philemon of the many witnesses who could be made aware of Philemon's response to Onesimus. Basically, Paul asked Philemon to do the right thing and Paul would look at it in the most positive fashion, in fact, Paul went even further in this same direction...)

21 Having confidence in thine obedience I write unto thee, knowing that thou wilt do even beyond what I say.

(Paul stated he was confident that Philemon would be obedient and would do more than Paul said because Philemon was a believer and would be obedient to God. Paul exhorted Philemon after proving to Philemon that taking any retribution out on Onesimus would be ungrateful...and ungodly.)

22 But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I hope that through your prayers I shall be granted unto you.

(Paul stated that he would be coming to see Philemon. Paul removed Philemon's last "out" which would be received and forgive Onesimus in the short term, but punish Onesimus over time. Whatever decision Philemon made about Onesimus, Paul would be able to see for himself...eventually. Paul was resembling Jesus when he warned Philemon to be ready for his return.)

23 Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus, saluteth thee;
24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow-workers.
25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

(Paul's epistle to Philemon was the thirteenth book of the section of the New Testament known as the Pauline Epistles. This letter was written at the same time as Paul's letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians, with all three being delivered by Tychicus. These letters were written by Paul around 64 AD from Rome during his time in prison. This letter was different than the previous twelve from Paul in that this was a personal letter from Paul concerning a specific non-church issue with an individual. Onesimus was a run-away slave of Philemon whom we saw in Paul's letter to the Colossians was from Colossae. At the time of the writing of this letter, Onesimus was with Paul in Rome. Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon along with this letter. The purpose of this letter was to encourage Philemon to forgive and restore Onesimus.)

Day 347

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