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Bible Commentaries

Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Philemon 1

Verse 1

Fellow - laborer ; in spreading the gospel.

Verse 2

Apphia ; a Christian woman at Colosse, perhaps the wife of Philemon.

Archippus ; a minister of the gospel in that city. Colossians 4:17 .

The church in thy house ; worshipping in thy house.

Verse 3

True religion leads those who are under its influence to be kind and courteous; and to desire for others, especially for their friends, the richest spiritual blessings.

Verse 6

That the communication of thy faith ; by some, these words are connected immediately with the preceding verse, thus: Hearing of thy love and faith, etc., love and faith which look to this end, that the communication of thy faith may be effectual, etc. But we may, perhaps, better connect them with verse Philippians 1:4 , Making mention of thee always in my prayers-that the communication of thy faith may become effectual, etc. Taking the word "Communication" in the sense of fellowship, as the original word is often elsewhere rendered, the meaning of this difficult verse may be thus given: That the communication of thy faith ; with the saints, in other words, the fellowship with the saints in the faith of the gospel, may become effectual ; may not be inoperative, but active and fruitful by the acknowledging ; or, more literally, in the acknowledging, that is, in the way of the ever-increasing knowledge and acknowledgment by thee and the saints that are in fellowship with thee, of every good thing which is in you ; or, according to another reading, in us; that is, of every good thing that is wrought by God in us, or bestowed upon us, through his gospel; all which is to be in Christ Jesus ; or, more literally, unto Christ Jesus; that is, to his glory and the furtherance of his cause.

Verse 7

Thy love ; towards Christ and his people.

Bowels ; hearts. The manifestation of real goodness in the habitual practice of good works, gives great joy to all benevolent beholders; and that love to Christ which leads men to supply the wants of his people will be rewarded by him as if the acts of kindness were done to himself.

Verse 8

I might ; he might, as an inspired apostle, command Philemon to do that which is convenient ; that is, becoming; the thing, namely, which he was about to state, and which it was the duty of Philemon to do.

Verse 9

For love’s sake ; their mutual love to Christ and his cause, and to one another.

I rather beseech ; Paul chose to take this course rather than to command Philemon to do as he desired, and as God required him to do. Those who know the duty of others, and have from God a right to command them to do it, will often, if wise and good, choose to request, and sometimes to entreat and even beseech, rather than to command; because this course will accomplish the object as surely and more kindly and usefully than the other.

Verse 10

My son ; for whom he felt the affection of a spiritual father.

Onesimus ; who had been a servant to Philemon, but had left him and gone to Rome.

Whom I have begotten ; whom Paul, while a prisoner at Rome, had been the means of converting. In the days of Paul, when a servant left his master and went to a distant place, it was the duty of Christians to whom he went, diligently to instruct him in the Christian religion, and if possible lead him to embrace the Saviour. This duty Paul performed, and for its effects he and Onesimus will bless God for ever.

Verse 11

Unprofitable ; when he was a servant to Philemon. The name Onesimus means profitable.

Now ; since he had become a Christian.

Verse 12

Receive him ; as one on whom is placed the heart of Paul, the aged and imprisoned sufferer for Christ.

Mine own bowels ; either the child of mine own bowels in a spiritual sense, Genesis 15:4 , etc, or one dear to me as my own heart. If a servant who has left a Christian master and gone to a distant place, has himself become a Christian, and wishes to return, it is right for other Christians to assist him by requesting his former master to receive him in a Christian manner as he would receive one of them, especially when they know that he will do what they ask of him. Verses Philippians 1:17 ; Philippians 1:21 .

Verse 13

I would have retained ; that he might render to me, in my imprisonment, the assistance which you, were you present, would gladly bestow.

Verse 14

Would I do nothing ; nothing to retain Onesimus without Philemon’s consent.

That thy benefit ; bestowed upon me; in other words, that the good which Onesimus might do him should be with the free choice of Philemon.

Verse 15

Departed for a season ; from Philemon.

Receive him for ever ; as a disciple of Christ, one whom he was to love, and with whom he would hold sweet communion to eternity.

Verse 16

Not now ; no longer to be viewed or treated as a servant, but as a brother in Christ, united to Him by faith and beloved for His sake.

In the flesh , and in the Lord ; in his relations for this life and for the life to come.

Verse 17

A partner ; a partaker with Philemon of the gracious rights, privileges, and blessings of the salvation which Christ died to purchase.

As myself ; with great kindness and affection, rejoicing to do to Onesimus as, under a change of circumstances, he ought to wish Paul or Onesimus to do to him.

Verse 18

Oweth thee ; if Onesimus had in any way become indebted to Philemon, put that on mine account ; charge the debt to me. I hereby pledge myself to repay it.

Verse 19

Thou owest-me-thine own self ; Philemon was indebted to Paul, as the instrument of his conversion and salvation.

Verse 20

Brother ; not merely because they were both men of one common human family, but because they were both united to Christ.

Refresh my bowels ; give me great joy.

Verse 21

In thy obedience ; to the directions which Paul had given him. Though he chose to put them in the form of requests, they were such as the religion which Philemon professed required him to obey.

Knowing that thou wilt ; do more and better for Onesimus than Paul requested.

Verse 22

A lodging ; to receive him as a guest after his release from confinement at Rome.

I shall be given unto you ; he believed that in answer to prayer he should be permitted again to visit Philemon, and the brethren at Colosse.

Verse 23

My fellow - prisoner ; imprisoned with him for his attachment to Christ and labors in his cause.

Verse 25

The grace of-Christ ; 2 Timothy 4:22 .

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Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Philemon 1". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.