You Can Provide Clean Water to Persecuted Christians

Philemon 1

1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon, our dear helper in the faith,
2 And to Apphia, our sister, and to Archippus, our brother in God's army, and to the church in your house:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give praise to God at all times and make prayer for you,
5 Hearing of the love and the faith which you have to the Lord Jesus and to all the saints;
6 That the faith which you have in common with them may be working with power, in the knowledge of every good thing in you, for Christ.
7 For I had great joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been made strong again through you, brother.
8 And so, though I might, in the name of Christ, give you orders to do what is right,
9 Still, because of love, in place of an order, I make a request to you, I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner of Christ Jesus:
10 My request is for my child Onesimus, the child of my chains,
11 Who in the past was of no profit to you, but now is of profit to you and to me:
12 Whom I have sent back to you, him who is my very heart:
13 Though my desire was to keep him with me, to be my servant in the chains of the good news, in your place:
14 But without your approval I would do nothing; so that your good works might not be forced, but done freely from your heart.
15 For it is possible that for this reason he was parted from you for a time, so that you might have him for ever;
16 No longer as a servant, but more than a servant, a brother, very dear to me specially, but much more to you, in the flesh as well as in the Lord.
17 If then you take me to be your friend and brother, take him in as myself.
18 If he has done you any wrong or is in debt to you for anything, put it to my account.
19 I, Paul, writing this myself, say, I will make payment to you: and I do not say to you that you are in debt to me even for your life.
20 So brother, let me have joy of you in the Lord: give new life to my heart in Christ.
21 Being certain that you will do my desire, I am writing to you, in the knowledge that you will do even more than I say.
22 And make a room ready for me; for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be given to you.
23 Epaphras, my brother-prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his love;
24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my brother-workers.
25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. So be it.

Philemon 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

Philemon was an inhabitant of Colosse, a person of some note and wealth, and a convert under the ministry of St. Paul. Onesimus was the slave of Philemon: having run away from his master, he went to Rome, where he was converted to the Christian faith, by the word as set forth by Paul, who kept him till his conduct proved the truth and sincerity of his conversion. He wished to repair the injury he had done to his master, but fearing the punishment his offence deserved might be inflicted, he entreated the apostle to write to Philemon. And St. Paul seems no where to reason more beautifully, or to entreat more forcibly, than in this epistle.

The apostle's joy and praise for Philemon's steady faith in the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints. (1-7) He recommends Onesimus as one who would make rich amends for the misconduct of which he had been guilty; and on behalf of whom the apostle promises to make up any loss Philemon had sustained. (8-22) Salutations and a blessing. (23-25)

Verses 1-7 Faith in Christ, and love to him, should unite saints more closely than any outward relation can unite the people of the world. Paul in his private prayers was particular in remembering his friends. We must remember Christian friends much and often, as their cases may need, bearing them in our thoughts, and upon our hearts, before our God. Different sentiments and ways in what is not essential, must not make difference of affection, as to the truth. He inquired concerning his friends, as to the truth, growth, and fruitfulness of their graces, their faith in Christ, and love to him, and to all the saints. The good which Philemon did, was matter of joy and comfort to him and others, who therefore desired that he would continue and abound in good fruits, more and more, to God's honour.

Verses 8-14 It does not lower any one to condescend, and sometimes even to beseech, where, in strictness of right, we might command: the apostle argues from love, rather than authority, in behalf of one converted through his means; and this was Onesimus. In allusion to that name, which signifies "profitable," the apostle allows that in time past he had been unprofitable to Philemon, but hastens to mention the change by which he had become profitable. Unholy persons are unprofitable; they answer not the great end of their being. But what happy changes conversion makes! of evil, good; of unprofitable, useful. Religious servants are treasures in a family. Such will make conscience of their time and trusts, and manage all they can for the best. No prospect of usefulness should lead any to neglect their obligations, or to fail in obedience to superiors. One great evidence of true repentance consists in returning to practise the duties which have been neglected. In his unconverted state, Onesimus had withdrawn, to his master's injury; but now he had seen his sin and repented, he was willing and desirous to return to his duty. Little do men know for what purposes the Lord leaves some to change their situations, or engage in undertakings, perhaps from evil motives. Had not the Lord overruled some of our ungodly projects, we may reflect upon cases, in which our destruction must have been sure.

Verses 15-22 When we speak of the nature of any sin or offence against God, the evil of it is not to be lessened; but in a penitent sinner, as God covers it, so must we. Such changed characters often become a blessing to all among whom they reside. Christianity does not do away our duties to others, but directs to the right doing of them. True penitents will be open in owning their faults, as doubtless Onesimus had been to Paul, upon his being awakened and brought to repentance; especially in cases of injury done to others. The communion of saints does not destroy distinction of property. This passage is an instance of that being imputed to one, which is contracted by another; and of one becoming answerable for another, by a voluntary engagement, that he might be freed from the punishment due to his crimes, according to the doctrine that Christ of his own will bore the punishment of our sins, that we might receive the reward of his righteousness. Philemon was Paul's son in the faith, yet he entreated him as a brother. Onesimus was a poor slave, yet Paul besought for him as if seeking some great thing for himself. Christians should do what may give joy to the hearts of one another. From the world they expect trouble; they should find comfort and joy in one another. When any of our mercies are taken away, our trust and hope must be in God. We must diligently use the means, and if no other should be at hand, abound in prayer. Yet, though prayer prevails, it does not merit the things obtained. And if Christians do not meet on earth, still the grace of the Lord Jesus will be with their spirits, and they will soon meet before the throne to join for ever in admiring the riches of redeeming love. The example of Onesimus may encourage the vilest sinners to return to God, but it is shamefully prevented, if any are made bold thereby to persist in evil courses. Are not many taken away in their sins, while others become more hardened? Resist not present convictions, lest they return no more.

Verses 23-25 Never have believers found more enjoyment of God, than when suffering together for him. Grace is the best wish for ourselves and others; with this the apostle begins and ends. All grace is from Christ; he purchased, and he bestows it. What need we more to make us happy, than to have the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ with our spirit? Let us do that now, which we should do at the last breath. Then men are ready to renounce the world, and to prefer the least portion of grace and faith before a kingdom.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO PHILEMON

This epistle was written by the Apostle Paul, when a prisoner at Rome, as appears from its inscription and subscription; and seems to have been written at the same time, in the year 60, and sent by the same hand, as the epistle to the Colossians; seeing the same persons were with the apostle at the writing of both, and send their Christian salutations in the one, as in the other; compare Phm 1:23,24 with Col 4:10,12,14 and Archippus, the minister in Colosse, is made mention of in both, Phm 1:2, Col 4:17 and it is very probable that Philemon, to whom it was written, was a Colossian, since Onesimus, his servant, on whose account, and by whom it was sent, is said to be one of the Colossians, Col 4:9. Philemon is said to be one of the seventy disciples, and afterwards Bishop of Gaza; \\see Gill on "Lu 10:1"\\. The occasion of the epistle was this; Philemon's servant, Onesimus, having either embezzled his master's goods, or robbed him, ran away from him, and fled to Rome, where the apostle was a prisoner in chains in his own hired house, under the custody of a soldier, and where he received all that came, and preached the Gospel to them, Ac 28:30 and among those that went to hear him, this fugitive servant was one, and was converted under his ministry; and who not only received the grace of God, but had such gifts bestowed on him as qualified him to be a preacher of the word. Now the design of this epistle is to reconcile Philemon to his servant, and to entreat him to receive him again, not only as a servant, but as a brother in Christ; and the most proper and prudent methods and arguments are used to engage him to it. The epistle, though it is a familiar one, and short, is very instructive; it shows great humility in the apostle, and that he did not think it below him to be concerned in doing such an office as to reconcile a master to his servant, and which is worthy of imitation; as also it teaches the right that masters have over their servants, which is not lost by their becoming Christians, and even ministers of the Gospel; and that recompense should be made unto them for injuries done by them: it likewise displays the riches of the grace of God, in the conversion of such a vile creature: and the wonderful providence of God in overruling that which was sinful in itself, running away from his master, to the greatest good, even the conversion of him; and is an instance of surprising grace: and from hence may be learned, that there is salvation in Christ for the chief of sinners; and that the conversion of them is not to be despaired of. The authority of this epistle was not questioned by the ancient writers, and stands always in their catalogues of the canon of the Scripture; and Marcion the heretic, who either rejected, or changed, or mutilated the rest of the epistles, could not lay his hands on this, because of the brevity of it, as Tertullian {a} and Jerom {b} observe.

{a} Advers. Marcion. l. 5. c. 21. {b} Proaem. in Philem.

\\INTRODUCTION TO PHILEMON 1\\

This epistle has an inscription, salutation, and preface, the same with others, which are in Phm 1:1-4, the principal view of it is to persuade Philemon to receive his servant Onesimus; the arguments used are taken from the general character he had for love to the saints, and people of God, and therefore it was hoped he would act up to it in this instance, Phm 1:5-7, from the consideration of the person who made the suit to him, who could have used authority, but chose rather to entreat him in love; and also of his age, and the condition in which he was, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, Phm 1:8,9 from the spiritual relation Onesimus was in to the apostle, who had begotten him in his bonds, Phm 1:10 from the present usefulness of him, both to Philemon and the apostle, who before was useless, Phm 1:11, from the strong affection the apostle had for him, being as his own bowels, Phm 1:12 from his unwillingness to do anything without his consent, though he could have detained him upon the foot of equity and justice, to have served him in his stead, Phm 1:13,14, from the overruling providence of God, which had so ordered it, that he should depart from him for a time, that he might be received for ever, Phm 1:15 from the character under which he could now be received, not as a servant, but as a beloved brother, Phm 1:16 from the partnership and association in which the apostle and Philemon were, Phm 1:17 from the assurance he gave him of repaying him whatever his servant owed him, and making good whatever he had injured him in, Phm 1:18,19 and from that pleasure, delight, and refreshment he should have, should he receive him, Phm 1:20. And, upon the whole, the apostle expresses his confidence that he would grant his request, obey his commands, and even do more than he had mentioned to him, Phm 1:21. And then gives him some hope of his being delivered from prison, through the prayers of Philemon, and others, and of seeing him shortly; and therefore desires he would prepare a lodging for him, Phm 1:22 and closes with the salutations of several friends to him, mentioned by name, with their characters, Phm 1:23,24 and with his own common salutation, Phm 1:25.

Philemon 1 Commentaries

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