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Bible Commentaries

Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

Philemon 1

Verse 1

The letter to Philemon is of a personal nature. In all probability Philemon was a native of Colossae, and a member of the Church there. While the letter is addressed to him, his whole household and the whole Church were included.

The apostle began by expressing his thankfulness for Philemon. His purpose was to seek an action by Philemon in harmony with his Christian position. The real reason of the letter emerges when Paul appealed to Philemon, rather than commanded him, to certain action in the case of Onesimus, his runaway slave. Paul based his appeal on his personal love, the fact that he was such a one as "Paul the aged"; and also on the change that had been wrought in the man Onesimus. He drew two portraits of the man by the use of two words. He had been "unprofitable." He was now "profitable," or, to be more correct, he was "well profitable," that is, completely so. Therefore the appeal to Philemon was to take Onesimus back because of the change that had taken place in him, and to receive him no longer as a slave but as a brother.

The letter closed with the expression of the apostle's hope that he would be able to visit Philemon, and the request that a lodging be prepared for him. Salutations from the little group who were with him in Rome and the benediction brought the letter to its close. The benediction had to do with grace, which is here described as "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." Of course, it was the grace of God, but it is here described as that of our Lord Jesus Christ, because in Him was manifested the effect of the grace of God in human life.

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Bibliographical Information
Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Philemon 1". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.