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Bible Commentaries

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Philemon 1


Philemon 1:1-2 . Instead of ἀδελφῇ , Elz. Scholz, Tisch. have ἀγαπητῇ . But the former, which is approved by Griesb. and Reiche, is attested by A D * E * F G א , and some min. vss. Hesych. Jerome, and was easily supplanted by the ἀγαπ . written on the margin in conformity with Philemon 1:1 (vss. Ambrosiast. and Pelag. have ἀδελφῇ ἀγαπ ).

Philemon 1:5 . πρός ] Lachm.: εἰς , following A C D * E, 17, 137. An alteration, occasioned by πίστιν .

Philemon 1:6 . Instead of ἡμῖν , Elz. has ὑμῖν , in opposition to A C D E K L, min. vss. and Fathers. The latter reading is to be traced to the mechanical copyists, who, as in the opening of the Epistle, had in view Philemon and those around him (Philemon 1:3 ). The preceding τοῦ is deleted by Lachm, on too weak counter-evidence (A C, 17); how easily might it be passed over after the final syllable of ἀγαθοῦ !

Philemon 1:7 . Instead of χαράν , Elz. Tisch. have χάριν , in opposition to decisive evidence; the latter found its way into the text through reference to εὐχαριστῶ , Philemon 1:4 . Comp. Reiche.

ἔχομεν ] Lachm. has ἔσχον , which was also recommended by Griesb., in accordance with A C F G א , min. vss. Fathers. The other witnesses are divided between ἔχομεν and ἔσχομεν , but remain too weak to warrant either of these two readings. The plural appears an inappropriate following up of ἐν ἡμῖν in Philemon 1:6 , and ἔσχομεν also tells indirectly in favour of Lachm. The position after πολλ . is decidedly attested (Lachm.).

Philemon 1:10 . Before ἐγέννησα Lachm. ed. min. had ἐγώ , following A, min. Syr. p. Slav, ms. Chrys. Rightly; the emphasis resting upon ἐγώ , in accordance with the context, was overlooked; and it is more likely to have been dropped out on occasion of the following ΕΓΕ , than to have been introduced by the writing of ΕΓ twice.

After δεσμ . Elz. Scholz have μου , in opposition to decisive testimony.

Philemon 1:11 . After ἀνέπεμψα we have, with Lachm., on preponderating evidence (A C D * E א * 57), to take in σοι , the omission of which is to be explained from the following σύ .

Philemon 1:12 . σὺ δέ ] is wanting in A C א * 17. Lachm., who, like Tisch., has deleted also προσλαβοῦ after σπλάγχνα . This προσλαβοῦ is wanting in A F G א * 17, while some min. place it immediately after σὺ δέ ; Arm. Boern. Theodoret, on the other hand, after αὐτόν . It is, though afresh defended by Reiche, to be looked upon as a supplement from Philemon 1:17 ; the absence of the verb, however, involved, by way of redressing the construction, the omission of σὺ δέ , so that αὐτόν was regarded as governed by ἀνέπεμψα (comp. Lachm.: ὃν ἀνέπεμψά σοι , αὐτόν , τουτέστιν τὰ ἐμα σπλάγχνα ).

Philemon 1:13 . The position of μοι before διακ . (Elz. in reverse order) is decisively attested.

Philemon 1:18 . The form ἐλλόγα is to be adopted, with Lachm. and Tisch., in conformity with A C D * ( ἐνλ .) F G א , 17, 31; ἐλλόγει was imported from the familiar passage, Romans 5:13 .

Philemon 1:20 . Instead of Χριστῷ , Elz. has κυρίῳ . Repetition from what precedes, in opposition to decisive evidence.

Philemon 1:21 . ὑπὲρ ὅ ] Lachm.: ὑπὲρ ἅ , in accordance with A C א , Copt. We have no means of deciding the point.

Philemon 1:23 . Instead of ἀσπάζεται , Elz. has ἀσπάζονται , which has decisive witnesses against it. An emendation.


After the address and apostolic greeting (Philemon 1:1-3 ), there follows a glorious testimony to the Christian character of Philemon (Philemon 1:4-7 ); then the proper object of the Epistle, intercession for Onesimus (Philemon 1:8-21 ); and finally, the bespeaking of a lodging, in the hope of being liberated (Philemon 1:22 ). Salutations and concluding wish, Philemon 1:23-25 .

Verse 1

Philemon 1:1 . Δέσμιος Χρ . Ἰ .] i.e. whom Christ has placed in bonds . See on Ephesians 3:1 . This self-designation (not ἀπόστολος , or the like) at the head of the letter is in keeping with its confidential tone and its purpose of moving and winning the heart, ὑπὲρ τοῦ τὴν χάριν ἑτοιμότερον λαβεῖν , Chrysostom.

κ . Τιμόθ .] See on Philippians 1:1 ; Colossians 1:1 .

συνεργῷ ] The particular historic relations, on which this predicate is based, are unknown to us; yet comp. Philemon 1:2 : τῇ κατʼ οἶκόν σου ἐκκλησ .; perhaps he was an elder of the church.

ἡμῶν ] namely, of Paul and Timothy. It belongs to ἀγαπ . and συνεργῷ . Although, we may add, the Epistle is, as to its design and contents, a private letter, yet the associating of Timothy with it, and especially the addressing it to more than one (Philemon 1:2 ), are suitably calculated with a view to the greater certainly of a successful result (comp. already Chrysostom). Hofmann incorrectly holds that in the directing of the letter also to the relatives and to the church in the house the design was, that they should , by the communication of the letter to them, become aware of what had induced Philemon to do that which was asked of him . This they would in fact have learned otherwise from Philemon, and would have believed his account of the matter.

Verse 2

Philemon 1:2 . That Appia was the wife of Philemon (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, and many) does not indeed admit of proof, but is the more probable, in proportion as the intercession for the slave was a matter of household concern, in which case the méstress of the house came into view. On the form of the name with πφ instead of ππ (Acts 28:15 ), comp. Ἀπφιανός in Mionnet, Description des midailles , III. 179, IV. 65, 67, and the forms ἀπφύς and ἀπφά . See also Lobeck, Paral. p. 33.

τῇ ἀδελφῇ ] in the sense of Christian sisterhood, like ἀδελφός , Philemon 1:1 .

Archippus , too (see on Colossians 4:17 ), must have belonged to the family circle of Philemon. But whether he was precisely son of Philemon (Michaelis, Eichhorn, Rosenmüller, Olshausen, Hofmann, and already Theodore of Mopsuestia) we cannot determine. Chrysostom and Theophylact take him to be a friend of the household; Theodoret, to be the teacher to the household.

τῷ συστρατ . ἡμ .] As in Philippians 2:25 . The relation cannot be more precisely ascertained. He may have been deacon (according to Ambrosiaster and Jerome, he was even bishop ), but must have endured conflict and trouble for the gospel. Comp. likewise 2 Timothy 2:3 .

καὶ τ . κατʼ οἶκ . σ . ἐκκλ .] not to be understood of the family of Philemon (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact: πάντας τοὺς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ πιστοὺς λέγει , συμπαραλαβὼν καὶ δούλους , comp. Calvin and Storr), but of the section of the Christians at Colossae , which met in his house . [65] See on Colossians 4:15 . Wisely (see on Philemon 1:1 ) does Paul although otherwise in Philemon 1:4-24 he only speaks to Philemon enlist the interest not merely of Appia and Archippus, but also of the church in the house, and therewith embrace the whole circle, in which there was to be prepared for the converted fugitive a sanctuary of pardon and affection. But farther than this he does not go; not beyond the limits of the house , since the matter, as a household-affair , was not one suited to be laid before the Christian community collectively . To the latter, however, he at the same time (Colossians 4:9 ) commended his protégé , though without touching upon the particular circumstances of his case. Correct tact on the part of the apostle.

[65] Perhaps it is to this part of the address, which directed the letter to a congregational circle , that we are indebted for the preservation of the document the only one of the certainly very numerous private letters, which the apostle wrote in the prosecution of his many-sided labours.

Verse 4


Philemon 1:4 f. Comp. Romans 1:8 ; 1 Corinthians 1:4 ; Philippians 1:3 ; Colossians 1:3 ; Ephesians 1:16 .

πάντοτε ] belongs not to μνείαν κ . τ . λ . (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Luther, Calvin, Beza, Estius, and many others), but to εὐχαριστῶ κ . τ . λ . (comp. on Colossians 1:3 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:2 ), as the main element, for the completeness and emphasis of which it serves. The participial definition μνείαν κ . τ . λ . specifies whereupon Paul sees himself always moved to give thanks to God, namely, when he makes mention of Philemon in his prayers; and the following ἀκούων κ . τ . λ . is likewise an accompanying definition to εὐχαριστῶ κ . τ . λ ., stating whereby he finds himself induced to such thanksgiving, namely, because he hears, etc. It is not the intercession that has its motive explained by ἀκούων (de Wette, Koch), otherwise the logically necessary statement, for what Paul gives thanks to God, would be entirely wanting, whereas the mention of Philemon in the prayer had no need of a motive assigned for it, and would have taken place even without the ἀκούειν κ . τ . λ . Moreover, Paul does not by μνείαν κ . τ . λ . express the intercession , but in general the mention in prayer , which is a much wider notion and also may be other than intercessory (in opposition to Hofmann).

ἀκούων ] continually, though Onesimus in particular. It is otherwise with ἀκούσαντες , Colossians 1:4 .

τὴν ἀγάπην ] the standing notion of Christian love to the brethren , as in Colossians 3:14 .

κ . τὴν πίστιν ] is more precisely defined by the following ἣν ἔχειςἁγίους , and hence is not specially to be understood of faith in the dogmatic sense, to which εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους would not be suitable. It is faithfulness ; comp. Galatians 5:22 ; Romans 3:3 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:8 ; Matthew 23:23 ; Titus 2:10 ; often in the LXX., Apocrypha, and Greek authors. So Michaelis and Hagenbach (Flatt with hesitation), also Winer, p. 383 [E. T. 511 f]. But usually (see already Theodoret, and especially Grotius) expositors assume a chiasmus , so that πρὸς τ . κύρ . Ἰ . is to be referred to τ . πίστιν , and εἰς π . τ . ἁγίους to τὴν ἀγάπ . (de Wette, Wilke, Rhetor , p. 372; Demme, Koch, Wiesinger, Ewald), to which also Bleek and Hofmann come in the end. Against this may be decisively urged ἣν ἔχεις , whereby πρὸς τ . κύριονἁγίους is attached as one whole to τὴν πίστιν . With τὴν ἀγάπην the ἣν ἔχεις has nothing whatever to do; the former has, on the contrary, its own definition of subject by means of σου , which again does not stand in any connection with τὴν πίστιν . Comp. Colossians 1:4 . The usual objection to the interpretation faithfulness , namely, that the dogmatic sense of πίστις is the stated one when it goes along with ἀγάπη , does not hold good, inasmuch as ἀγάπη stands first (comp. also Galatians 5:22 ); in the stated combination of faith and love the faith precedes (in accordance with the inner genetic relation, Galatians 5:6 ), as 1 Corinthians 13:13 ; Ephesians 1:15 ; Col 1:4 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:3 ; 1Th 3:6 ; 1 Timothy 1:14 ; 2 Timothy 1:13 , al. ; hence the transposition τ . πίστιν κ . τ . ἀγάπην is found here too in D E, min. vss. and Ambrosiaster. The interchange of πρός and εἰς can occasion no surprise, inasmuch as Paul is fond of varying the prepositions (see on Romans 3:20 ; Galatians 2:16 ; Ephesians 1:7 ), as this is also of frequent occurrence with classical writers, without the design of expressing a different relation. On πρός , comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:8 ; 4Ma 15:21 ; 4Ma 16:22 ; Dem. 656, 19; Lucian, Tox. 41. It is to be observed withal, that the stated notion: faith in Christ , is never indicated by πρός , a fact which likewise tells against the ordinary interpretation.

Verse 6

Philemon 1:6 . Ὅπως κ . τ . λ .] cannot, as is usually held (also by Winer, de Wette, Demme, Koch, Ellicott, Bleek, and Hofmann), introduce the aim of the intercession , Philemon 1:4 , since μνείαν σου ποιούμ . κ . τ . λ . was only an accompanying definition, and ἀκούων κ . τ . λ . already pointed back to εὐχαριστῶ κ . τ . λ . (see on Philemon 1:5 ). It attaches itself (so rightly, Grotius, Bengel, Wiesinger, Ewald) in its telic sense (not in the sense of so that , as Flatt and older expositors would have it taken) to Philemon 1:5 , specifying the tendency of ἣν ἔχεις . For the sake of making this attachment Paul has put the ἣν ἔχεις , which would be otherwise superfluous.

κοινωνία τῆς πίστεώς σου ] is by no means to be explained as if ἡ κοινωνία σου τῆς πίστεως (or σου εἰς τὴν πίστιν ) stood in the text, which would have to be the case, if we take the rendering of Hofmann (“the fellowship of faith, in which Philemon stands with his fellow-believers ”). In order to the right interpretation observe further, on the one hand, that κοινωνία is with Paul, as mostly also with classical writers, when it is not accompanied by the genitive of the personal pronoun (Philippians 1:5 ), always so employed, that the genitive therewith connected denotes that with which the fellowship, or in which the participation, takes place (1 Corinthians 1:9 ; 1Co 10:16 ; 2 Corinthians 13:4 ; 2 Corinthians 8:13 ; Philippians 2:1 ; Philippians 3:10 ; Ephesians 3:9 , Elz.), consequently is the genitive not subjecti , but objecti ; and, on the other hand, that κοινωνία signifies not communicatio , but communio, consortium . Accordingly there is at once set aside (1) the traditional interpretation since the time of Chrysostom and Theophylact: “fides tua, quam communem nobiscum habes,” Bengel, comp. Luther, Wetstein, and many; in which case the genitive has been taken subjectively, as by Wiesinger: thy faith-fellowship with all saints ; and by Ewald: “that thou believest in Christ not merely for thyself.” And there fall also (2) all interpretations, which transform the notion of κοινωνία into communicatio , such as that of Beza (comp. Castalio, Cornelius a Lapide, Estius, Hammond, Heinrichs): “ officia benignitatis in sanctos promanantia ex fide efficaci.” Similarly also Calvin: “fidei communicationem appellat, quum intus non latet otiosa, sed per veros effectus se profert ad homines ;” he is followed substantially by de Wette (and Koch): “the communion of thy faith (genitivus subjecti ), as well in the display of love towards individuals as in the advancement of the gospel ,” which latter element cannot be brought hither from συνεργ ., Philemon 1:1 , and is out of place (comp. Philemon 1:7 ). As the correct interpretation there remains only this, keeping the notion of πίστις in consistency with Philemon 1:5 : the fellowship entered into with thy Christian fidelity . So faithful a Christian as Philemon draws all other saints (Philemon 1:5 ), who come into relations of experience with him, sympathetically to himself, so that they form with him the bond of association unto like effort, and therewith become κοινωνοί of his πίστις .

ἐνεργὴς γένηται κ . τ . λ .] This fellowship with his fidelity is not to be an idle sympathy, but to become effective , [66] to express itself in vigorous action this is what Philemon wishes and aims at and that by virtue of the knowledge of every Christian saving-blessing , [67] a knowledge which, in such pious fellowship, unfolds itself ever more fully and vividly, and which must be the means of powerfully prompting all Christian activity (Ephesians 1:17 f.; Colossians 2:2 ; Colossians 3:10 ). And the final aim of this activity? Toward Christ Jesus it is to take place, i.e. εἰς Χρ . Ἰ ., which is neither, with Calvin, Estius, and others, to be annexed to τοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν , nor, with Hofmann, to ἀγαθοῦ , nor even, with Grotius, to πίστεως , but to ἐνεργ . γένηται , in which case alone it has the significance: Christ Jesus ’ will, work, kingdom, honour, and so forth, are to be their holy destination and relative aim . Consequently the whole passage might be paraphrased something in this way: And with this thy Christian fidelity thou hast the sacred goal of fellowship in view, that whoever enters into the participation of the same, may make this partaking through knowledge of every Christian blessing effective for Christ Jesus . An appeal to the profound Christian consciousness of Philemon, by way of preparation for the designed intercession on behalf of Onesimus, whom Paul in fact was now on the point of introducing to that κοινωνία τῆς πίστεως of his friend! Respecting the manifold other explanations of ἐνεργὴς γένηται κ . τ . λ ., it is to be observed, on the one hand, that we have not, with many (including Wiesinger and Hofmann), arbitrarily to restrict the notion of ἐνεργής to the exercise of love , but to extend it to the collective activity of the Christian life ; and, on the other hand, that as the subject of the κοινωνία is not Philemon, but others (comp. also Bleek), the latter , namely the κοινωνοὶ τῆς πίστεώς σου , must also be the subject of ἐπίγνωσις ; by which all expositions, according to which Philemon is held to be this knowing subject, are set aside, whether παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ be taken in the moral sense, of every virtue (Chrysostom), of good works and the like, or (although in itself correctly) of the Christian blessings of salvation, which are to be known. Hence we have to reject the interpretation of Oecumenius: διὰ τοῦ ἐπιγνῶναί σε καὶ πράττειν πᾶν ἀγαθόν , in which case the doing is arbitrarily imported, as is also done by Theophylact, according to whom ἐπιγινώσκειν is held to be equivalent to ἀγαπᾶν καὶ μεταχειρίζεσθαι . So likewise in substance de Wette, who mixes up moral action as keeping equal pace with moral knowledge, and takes τὸ ἐν ἡμῖν as: the good which is as to principle and spirit in us Christians; he is followed by Demme and Koch. We have further to reject the explanation of Flatt (so in substance also Osiander, Calovius, Bengel): “thy faith shows itself active through love, by means of a grateful recognition of all the benefits ,” etc., or (as Wiesinger puts it): “ inasmuch as it (namely, thy fellowship of faith ) recognises which is possible only for love in the other the good which is in him .” We have to set aside, lastly, the explanation of Hofmann, who, after the example of Michaelis, [68] retaining the reading ἐν ὑμῖν , and taking παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ as masculine , finds in ἐν ἐπιγνώσει κ . τ . λ . the meaning, that every one in the Christian sense good , every true Christian among the Colossians, [69] Philemon should know as being that which he is ; only by virtue of such knowing would his fellowship of faith show itself effectively operative through the exercise of Christian love which would not be the case with those “ whose Christian virtuousness he failed to know .” Erasmus, Castalio, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Pricaeus, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, and others, have done rightly in not referring the ἐπίγνωσις to Philemon as the knowing subject, but wrongly in understanding ἘΠΊΓΝ . of becoming known , as e.g. Erasmus, Paraphr .: “adeo ut nullum sit officium Christianae caritatis, in quo non sis et nolus et probatus .” Beza: “ut hac ratione omnes agnoscant et experiantur , quam divites sitis in Christo,” etc.

ἀγαθοῦ ] Comp. Romans 14:16 ; Galatians 6:6 ; Luke 1:53 ; Luke 12:18-19 ; Hebrews 9:11 ; Hebrews 10:1 ; Sir 12:1 ; Sir 14:25 , al. ; πᾶν ἀγαθὸν τὸ ἐν ἡμῖν really expresses quite the same thing as is expressed at Ephesians 1:3 by ΠᾶΣΑ ΕὐΛΟΓΊΑ ΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΙΚΉ .

ΤΟῦ ἘΝ ἩΜῖΝ ] applies to the Christians generally , these being regarded as a whole. The blessings are in the Christian community .

[66] The translation of the Vulgate, evidens , is based upon the reading ἐναργής ; so codd. Lat. in Jerome, Pelagius (Clar. Germ.: manifesta ).

[67] Such blessings, by which Christ has enriched us (comp. on 2 Corinthians 8:9 ), are faith, hope, love, patience, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit, etc. In devout fellowship these become ever more fully, vividly, and experimentally known as regards their nature and value.

[68] “Who interprets: “ as often as thou contest to know a good man among the Colossians!

[69] If the reading ἐν ὑμῖν were genuine, it could only, in accordance with the context, be referred to Philemon himself and to those adduced along with him in ver. 2. The Colossian church is brought in after a purely arbitrary way by Michaelis and Hofmann.

Verse 7

Philemon 1:7 . Not the assigning of a reason for the intercession (de Wette and others; see in opposition thereto, on Philemon 1:6 ), but a statement of the subjective ground (the objective one was contained in Philemon 1:5 f.) of the thanksgiving , Philemon 1:4 . Jerome already aptly remarks: “plenius inculcat et edocet, quare dixerit: gratias ago,” etc.

χαράν ] emphatically prefixed. The aorist ἔσχον (see the critical remarks) relates to the point of time, at which the ἀκούειν , Philemon 1:5 , had hitherto taken place.

πολλήν ] applies to both substantives.

παράκλησιν ] for Paul is δέσμιος , Philemon 1:1 ; Philemon 1:9 . Comp. παρηγορία , Colossians 4:11 .

ὅτι τὰ σπλ . κ . τ . λ .] More precise explanation to ἐπὶ τῇ ἀγάπσου : because, namely, the hearts (comp. Philemon 1:20 , as also 2 Corinthians 6:12 ; 2 Corinthians 7:15 ; Philippians 1:8 , al. ) of the saints are refreshed by thee . There is no more particular information as to the work of love referred to; and it is quite arbitrary to refer τῶν ἀγ . specially to the poor Christians (Grotius, Rosenmüller, and others), or even still more specially to “ the mother-church of Christendom ” (Hofmann), which is not to be made good either by 1 Corinthians 16:1 or by Romans 12:13 .

ἀδελφέ ] not emphatic (“brother in truth,” de Wette, whom Koch follows; comp. Erasmus, Paraphr .), but touching affection. Comp. Galatians 6:18 .

Verse 8

Philemon 1:8 . Διό ] explains the ground for the following διὰ τ . ἀγάπ . μᾶλλον παρακαλῶ : Wherefore (because I have so much joy and solace from thee), although I am by no means wanting in great boldness (1 Timothy 3:13 ; 2 Corinthians 3:12 ; Philippians 1:20 ) to enjoin upon thee what is becoming, I will rather for love’s sake exhort , will make exhortation take the place of injunction. Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact (comp. also Theodoret), Erasmus, Michaelis, Zachariae, and others attach διό to the participial assertion. This is unpsychological; what Paul has said in Philemon 1:5 [7] accords not with commanding, but with entreaty.

ἐν Χριστῷ ] In Christ , as the element of his inner life, Paul knows that his great confidence has its basis. But this fellowship of his with Christ is not merely the general Christian, but the apostolic , fellowship.

τὸ ἀνῆκον ] that which is fitting , that is, the ethically suitable ; Suidas: τὸ πρέπον ; not used in this sense by Greek writers. Comp. however, Ephesians 5:4 ; Colossians 3:18 ; 1Ma 10:40 ; 1Ma 10:42 ; 1Ma 11:35 ; 2Ma 14:8 . Thus Paul makes that, which he desires to obtain from Philemon, already to be felt as his duty .

διὰ τὴν ἀγάπην ] is understood by some of the love of Philemon (Calvin and others, Cornelius a Lapide: “ut scilicet solitam tuam caritatem in servum tuum poenitentem ostendas”); by others, of the love of the apostle to Philemon (Estius and others); by others again, ἣν κἀγὼ ἔχω πρός σε , καὶ σὺ πρὸς ἐμέ (Theophylact; comp. Oecumenius and others; Grotius: “per necessitatem amicitiae nostrae”). But all these limitations not expressed in the text are arbitrary; it is to be left general: on account of love , in order not to check the influence of the same (which, experience shows, is so great also over thee), but to allow it free course. It is the Christian brotherly love in abstracto , conceived of as a power ; 1 Corinthians 13:0 .

Verse 9


Philemon 1:9 f. Before τοιοῦτος we have to place a full stop; the participial predication τοιοῦτος ὤν sums up the quality which was expressed in Philemon 1:8 by πολλὴνμᾶλλον παρακαλῶ ; and lastly, ὡς ΠαῦλοςΧριστοῦ supports the παρακαλῶ σε κ . τ . λ . of Philemon 1:10 , from a consideration of the personal position of the apostle in such a way, that the granting of the request could not but appear to Philemon as a matter of dutiful affection . Consequently: Seeing that I am so constituted , [70] since such is my manner of thinking and dealing, that, namely, in place of commanding thee, I rather for love’s sake betake myself to the παρακαλεῖν , I exhort thee as Paul , etc. A very mistaken objection to this view of τοιοῦτος ὤν is that Paul would not have said at all that he was so constituted , but only that he did so in the given case (Hofmann, following Wiesinger). He, in fact, says even now with τοιοῦτος ὤν itself that such is his nature . Observe, moreover, that the supporting elements, ὡς Παῦλος κ . τ . λ ., are prefixed with all the emphasis of urgency to the παρακαλῶ , since in them lies the progress of the representation, namely, that which comes in as additional to the παρακαλῶ , already said before. Usually τοιοῦτος is taken as preparative , so that ὡς Παῦλος κ . τ . λ . is the more precise explanation of it; in which case some (as Luther, Calvin, and others, including Flatt, de Wette, Wiesinger, Ewald) find only two elements, taking ὡς Π . πρεσβύτης together; others (most expositors since the time of Chrysostom, including Bleek and Hofmann), three elements

Παῦλος , πρεσβύτης , δέσμιος . Expositors have differed in defining the significance of the particulars in their bearing on the matter in hand , [71] while recognising on the whole the “pondus ad movendum Philemonis animum” (Estius). According to de Wette (comp. Wetstein), τοιοῦτος ὤν κ . τ . λ . is to be held parallel to the participial clause of Philemon 1:8 , in accordance with which the participle would thus have to be resolved by although . But the whole mode of interpretation, which takes τοιοῦτος as preparative, is untenable. It must of necessity point back , summing up under the notion of personal quality what was said by πολλὴνπαρακαλῶ in Philemon 1:8 ; for if ΤΟΙΟῦΤΟς is not already defined (as is here the case by reference to Philemon 1:8 ), it may, doubtless, become defined either by an adjective immediately following, or by a following οἷος (Plato, Conv. p. 199 D; Dem. 41, 3), or ὅς (Xen. Anab. i. 4. 2; Plat. Phaed . p. 92 B; Hebrews 8:1 ), or ὅσος (Isocr. Paneg . 21), or by ὥστε with the infinitive (Plato, Conv. p. 175 D, al. ), but never by ὡς , which neither actually occurs (the usually cited passage from Andocides in Wetstein, de Wette has rightly described as not here relevant [72] ) nor can take place logically, since ὡς , that is, as (not like , which it means after τοιόνδε in Aesch. Pers . 180), already presupposes the definiteness of τοιοῦτος . This more precise definiteness is not, however, to be relegated to the mere conception or mode of view of the writer (Wiesinger: “I, in my circumstances”), according to which ὡς is then held to introduce an appositional definition, to which also Bleek and Hofmann ultimately come; but it is to be taken from what Paul has previously said , because it results from that quite simply and suitably. Comp. on τοιοῦτος ὤν , which always in classical writers also where it is not followed by a corresponding ΟἿΟς , Ὅς , ὍΣΟς , or ὭΣΤΕ summarily denotes the quality, disposition, demeanour, or the like, more precisely indicated before; Plato, Rep. p. 493 C; Xen. Anab. i. 1. 30; Hellen . iv. 1. 38; Cyrap . i. 5, 8; Soph. Aj . 1277 (1298); Lucian, Cont. 20, and many other places. It is further to be noted, (1) that the true explanation of τοιοῦτος ὢν κ . τ . λ . of itself imperatively requires that we connect these words with the following παρακαλῶ (Flatt, Lachmann, who, however, parenthesises Ὡς ΠΑῦΛΟς , de Wette, Wiesinger, Ewald, Bleek, Hofmann), not with that which precedes (as formerly was usual ), in which case the second παρακαλῶ is understood as resumptive, an ΟὖΝ (Theophylact), inquam , or the like, being supplied in thought (so Castalio, Beza, Hagenbach, and many). (2) The elements expressed by ὡς ΠαῦλοςΧριστοῦ stand seeing that ΠΡΕΣΒΎΤΗς is a substantive and has not the article in such relation to each other, that πρεσβύτης and ΝΥΝῚ ΔῈ ΚΑῚ ΔΈΣΜΙΟς Κ . Τ . Λ . are two attributive statements attaching themselves to Παῦλος ; consequently: as Paul, who is an old man, and now also a prisoner , etc. (3) The (flexible) notion of πρεσβύτης must by no means have its meaning altered, as is done e.g. by Calvin, who makes it denote “non aetatem, sed officium ;” but, at the same time, may not be rigidly pressed in so confidential a private writing, in which “lepos mixtus gravitate” (Bengel), prevails, especially if Philemon was much younger than Paul. Observe, withal, that the apostle does not use some such expression as γέρων , but the more relative term ΠΡΕΣΒ .; comp. Titus 2:2 with the contrast ΤΟῪς ΝΕΩΤΈΡΟΥς in Philemon 1:6 . He sets himself down as a veteran in contradistinction to the younger friend, who was once his disciple. At the stoning of Stephen, and so some twenty-six or twenty-seven years earlier, Paul was still νεανίας (Acts 7:58 ); he might thus be now somewhere about fifty years of age.

ΔΈΣΜΙΟς . Χ . ] as in Philemon 1:1 .

ΤΈΚΝΟΥ ] tenderly affectionate designation of his convert (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:14 f.; Galatians 4:19 ; 1 Peter 5:13 ), in connection with which the conception of his own child is brought more vividly into prominence by the prefixed ἐμοῦ and by ἘΓΏ (see the critical remarks), and ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ΔΕΣΜΟῖς [73] makes the recommendation yet more affecting and urgent.

Ὀνήσιμον ] Accusative, in accordance with a well-known attraction; see Winer, p. 155 [E. T. 205]; Buttmann, p. 68 [E. T. 78],

[70] The Vulgate erroneously referred ὤν to Philemon : “cum sis talis,” which Cornelius a Lapide unsuccessfully defends.

[71] So e.g. Erasmus, Paraphr .: “Quid enim neges roganti? primum Paulo : cum Paulum dico non paulum rerum tibi significo; deinde seni : nonnihil tribui solet et aetati … nunc etiam vincto : in precibus nonnihil ponderis habet et calamitas obtestantis; postremo vincto Jesu Christi : sic vincto favere debent, qui profitentur Christi doctrinam.” Similarly Grotius and others; while, according to Heinrichs, by Παῦλος there was to be awakened gratitude ; by πρεσβ . the readiness to oblige , natural towards the aged; and by δέσμιος Ἰ . Χρ . compassion . Hofmann holds that “the name Paul puts Philemon in mind of all that makes it a historical one,” and that the impression of this becomes thereupon confirmed by the other two elements.

[72] The passage runs: ὃ δὲ πάντων δεινότατόν ἐστι , τοιοῦτος ὢν ὡς εὔνους τῷ δήμῳ τοὺς λόγους ποιεῖται . Here, precisely as in our passage, ὡς εὔνους belongs not to τοιοῦτος ὤν , but to what follows, and τοιοῦτος ὤν sums up what had been said before. The comparison of τοιόσδε , Hom. od. xvi. 205 (Hofmann), where besides no ὡς follows, is unsuitable, partly on the general ground of the well-known diversity of meaning of the two words (comp. Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 7. 5), which is not to be abandoned without special reason, partly because in that passage ἐγὼ τοιόσδε stands absolutely and δεικτικῶς ( hicce ego talis ), so that the following παθὼν κ . τ . λ . belongs to ἤλυθον .

[73] That the expression: in the bonds , was suitable only to Rome and not to Caesarea, is incorrectly inferred by Wieseler, p. 420, from Acts 24:23 . See on that passage. It was likewise incorrect to assign the Epistle, on account of πρεσβύτης , to the alleged second imprisonment at Rome (Calovius).

Verse 11

Philemon 1:11 . Ingenious allusion to the literal signification of the name (current also among the Greeks) Ὀνήσιμος , useful . The objection of Estius, that Paul expresses himself in words derived from another stem (not from ὀνίνημι ), presupposes a mechanical procedure, with which Paul is least of all to be charged. We may add that, while there were not such forms as ἀνονήσιμος and εὐονήσιμος , doubtless he might, had he wished to retain the stem of the name, have employed ἀνόνητος and ὀνητός (Suidas), or ὀνήτωρ (Pindar), or ὀνησιφόρος (Plutarch, Lucian). An allusion, however, at the same time to the name of Christian , as sometimes in the Fathers Χριστιανός is brought into relation with χρηστός , is arbitrarily assumed by Cornelius a Lapide, Koch, and others, and the more so, as the expressions have already their occasion in the name Onesimus , and, moreover, by means of σοί and ἐμοί an individually definite reference.

ἄχρηστον ] unserviceable , only here in the N.T. (comp. however, δοῦλος ἀχρεῖος , Matthew 25:30 ; Luke 17:10 ). Plato, Lys . p. 204 B: φαῦλος καὶ ἄχρηστος , 3Ma 3:29 ; Sir 37:19 . A definition, wherein the uselessness of Onesimus in his service consisted (the usual view from the time of Chrysostom: that he had robbed his master) does not appear more precisely than in the hint Philemon 1:18 f.

νυνὶ δὲεὔχρηστον ] Comp. 2Ti 2:21 ; 2 Timothy 4:11 ; Plato, Pol . iii. p. 411 B: χρήσιμον ἐξ ἀχρήστου ἐποίησεν . The usefulness , which now belongs to Onesimus, is based simply on his conversion which had taken place, Philemon 1:10 , and consequently consists for Philemon in the fact, that his slave now will render his service in a far other way than before, namely, in a distinctively Christian frame of mind and activity (consequently without eye-service and man-pleasing, ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ κ . τ . λ ., as it is expressed at Colossians 3:2-9 ff.), and for Paul himself in the fact that, because the conversion of Onesimus is his work (Philemon 1:10 ), in that transformation of the previously useless slave there has accrued to the apostle, as the latter’s spiritual father, gain and recompense of his labour (Philippians 1:22 ), the joy and honour of not having striven in vain (Philippians 2:16 ). Thus the benefits , which Philemon and Paul have respectively to enjoy from Onesimus as now constituted , are brought into contact and union. Comp. Theodore of Mopsuestia: σοὶ κατὰ τὴν ὑπηρεσίαν , ἐμοὶ κατὰ τὴν βελτίωσιν τοῦ τρόπου . What a weighty and persuasive appeal was urged in the ingenious καὶ ἐμοί (comp. Romans 16:13 ; 1 Corinthians 16:18 ) is at once felt.

Verse 12

Philemon 1:12 . The rectified text [74] is: ὋΝ ἈΝΈΠΕΜΨΆ ΣΟΙ · ΣῪ ΔῈ ΑὐΤῸΝ , ΤΟΥΤΈΣΤΙ ΤῸ ἘΜᾺ ΣΠΛΆΓΧΝΑ (without ΠΡΟΣΛΑΒΟῦ ).

On ἈΝΈΠΕΜΨΑ , remisi , comp. Luke 23:11 .

τουτέστι τὰ ἐμὰ σπλάγχνα ] that is, my heart , by which Onesimus is designated as an object of the most cordial affection . So Oecumenius, Theophylact, and many. ἐμὰ has an ingeniously-turned emphasis, in contrast to ΑὐΤΌΝ . According to others , the thought would be: ἐμος ἐστιν υἱὸς , ἐκ τῶν ἐμῶν γεγέννηται σπλάγχνων , Theodoret (comp. also Chrysostom); so too Beza, Cornelius a Lapide, Heinrichs, and others, following the Syriac. See instances in Pricaeus and Wetstein, and comp. the Latin viscera. But in this way the relation already expressed in Philemon 1:10 would be only repeated, and that in a form, which would be less in keeping with that spiritual fatherhood. Paul, moreover, statedly uses σπλάγχνα for the seat of the affection of love (2 Corinthians 6:12 ; 2 Corinthians 7:15 ; Philippians 1:8 ; Philippians 2:1 ; Colossians 3:12 ; Philemon 1:7 ; Philemon 1:20 ; comp. also Luke 1:78 ; 1 John 3:17 ), and so also here, where the person to whom one feels himself attached with tender love (which, according to Philemon 1:10 , is certainly felt as paternal ; comp. Wis 10:5 ; 4Ma 16:20 ; 4Ma 16:25 ) is designated by the lover as his very heart , because its feelings and inclinations are filled by this object. Comp. on this expression of feeling, the Plautine meum corculum ( Cas . iv. 4. 14), meum cor ( Poen . i. 2. 154). When we set aside προσλαβοῦ as not genuine (see the critical remarks), the verb is wanting , so that the passage is anacoluthic ; the apostle is involuntarily withheld by the following relative clause presenting itself, and by what he, in the lively flow of his thoughts, further subjoins (Philemon 1:13 ff.) from adding the governing verb thought of with σὺ δὲ αὐτόν , until at length, after beginning a new sentence with Philemon 1:17 , he introduces it in another independent connection, leaving the sentence which he had begun with ΣῪ ΔῈ ΑὐΤΌΝ in Philemon 1:12 unclosed. Comp. on Romans 5:2 ff.; Galatians 2:16 . See generally, Winer, p. 528 ff. [E. T. 709 ff.]; Wilke, Rhetor , p. 217 f. With classic writers, too, such anacoluthic sentences broken off by the influence of intervening thoughts are not rare, specially in excited or pathetic discourse, e.g. Plat. Symp . p. 218 A; Xen. Anab. ii. 5.13; and Krüger in loc. ; Aeschin. adv. Ctesiph. 256, and Wunderlich in loc. ; Bremi, ad Lys. p. 442 f., 222, who rightly observes: “Hoc anacoluthiae genus inter scriptores sacros nulli frequentius excidit quam Paulo ap., epistolas suas dictanti”

[74] See the critical remarks. The text of Lachmann, ὃν ἀνεπ . σοι , αὐτὸν , τοῦτʼ ἔστιν τὰ ἐμὰ σπλ ., is followed by Hofmann, so that αὐτόν is in apposition to ὅν (see, on the other hand, Winer, p. 140 [E. T. 184]).

Verse 13

Philemon 1:13 f Ἐγώ ] I for my part.

ἐβουλόμην ] I was of the mind . Comp. ἠθέλησα , Philemon 1:14 , and observe not merely the diversity of notion ( βούλομαι : deliberate self-determination, see on Matthew 1:19 ), but also the distinction of the tenses . The apostle formerly cherished the design and the wish (imperfect ἐβουλ .) of retaining Onesimus with himself, instead of sending him back to Philemon, but has become of the mind (historical aorist ἠθέλησα ), etc. Thus ἠθέλ . denotes that which supervened on the previous occurrence of the ἐβουλ ., and hindered the realization of the latter. Observe that Paul has not used ἐβουλόμην ἄν ; that would be vellem .

ὑπὲρ σοῦ ] for thee , i.e. in gratiam tuam , that thou mightest not need thyself to serve me. ὑπέρ accordingly is not here, any more than in any other passage of the N.T., used as a precise equivalent to ἀντί , although the actual relation of representation lies at the bottom of the conception in gratiam ; for Paul would have taken the service of the slave as rendered by the master, to whom the slave belonged . Comp. Hofmann. This mode of regarding and representing the matter has nothing harsh about it, nor does it convey any obligation , which Philemon, had he been on the spot, would have fulfilled (Bleek), but simply the trustful presupposition , that Philemon himself would, if Paul had desired it, have ministered to him in the prison. Of this, however, Philemon was relieved by the service of the slave, which in this way stood him in good stead . Schweizer, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1858, p. 430, explains likewise correctly: for thy benefit , but takes this in the sense: “so that it would be a service rendered to thee, imputed to thee, so that I would be under obligation to thee .” But this would only have the delicacy and tenderness which are found in it, if the thought: “in order that he might serve me, with a view to place me under obligation to thee,” contained the design of Onesimus ; if, accordingly, Paul had written something after this manner: ὃς ἐβούλετο πρὸς ἐμαντὸν μένειν , ἵνα κ . τ . λ ., which, however, would have asserted a self-determination incompetent to the position of a slave. No; as the passage is written, there is delicately and tenderly implied in the ὑπὲρ σοῦ the same thought, which, in accordance with Philippians 2:30 , he might have expressed by ἵνα ἀναπληρώστὸ σοῦ ὑστέρημα ; comp. 1 Corinthians 16:17 . Thus ingeniously does Paul know how to justify his ἐβουλόμην κ . τ . λ . seeing that he would, in fact, otherwise have had no claim at all upon another’s bondsman by the specification of design ἵνα ὑπὲρ σοῦ κ . τ . λ .

διακονῇ ] direct representation by the subjunctive, “ita quidem, ut praeteriti temporis cogitatio tanquam praesens efferatur,” Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 2. 2.

ἐν τοῖς δεσμοῖς τοῦ εὐαγγ .] in the bonds, into which the gospel has brought me in a position. therefore (comp. Philemon 1:9 ) which makes me as needful as deserving of such loving service.

χωρὶς δὲ κ . τ . λ .] but without thy consent , that is, independent of it, I have wished to do nothing , and so have left that wish unexecuted, in order that thy good may be not as from constraint, but from free will . The thought of the apostle accordingly is: But as I knew not thine own opinion, and thus must have acted without it, I was disposed to abstain from the retention of thy slave, which I had in view: for the good, which thou showest, is not to be as if forced, but voluntary . If I had retained Onesimus for my service, without having thy consent to that effect, the good, which I should have had to derive from thee through the service rendered to me by thy servant ὑπὲρ σοῦ , would have been shown not from free will , that is, not in virtue of thine own self-determination, but as if compulsorily , just because independently of thy γνώμη (“non enim potuisset refragari Philemon,” Bengel [75] ). Observe at the same time that τὸ ἀγαθόν σου , thy good , that is, the good which thou showest to others , is to be left quite in its generality , so that not the serviceable employment of the slave specially and in concreto is meant, but rather the category in general, under which, in the intended application, there falls that special ἀγαθόν , which is indicated in Philemon 1:13 . The restriction to the given case is impracticable on account of ἈΛΛᾺ ΚΑΤᾺ ἙΚΟΎΣΙΟΝ , since Paul in fact did not at all intend to procure the consent of Philemon and to retain Onesimus. This in opposition to the usual interpretation: “ τὸ ἀγαθόν , i.e. beneficium tuum hocce, quo afficior a te, si hunc mihi servum concedis ,” Heinrichs; comp. Bleek. But it is an error also, with de Wette, following Estius (who describes it as probable), to understand under τὸ ἀγαθ . σον the manumission [76] of the slave, or to understand it at least as “also included” (Bleek), of which even in Philemon 1:16 there is no mention, and for suggesting which in so covert and enigmatic a fashion there would not have been any reason, if he had desired it at all (but see on 1 Corinthians 7:21 ). According to Hofmann (comp. his Schriftbeweis , II. 2, p. 412), τὸ ἀγαθόν σου is, like ΤῸ ΧΡΗΣΤῸΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ at Romans 2:4 , thy goodness , and that the goodness, which Philemon will show to Onesimus when he had returned into his position as a, slave ; this only then becomes an undoubtedly spontaneous goodness, when the apostle refrains from any injunction of his own, whereas Philemon could not have done otherwise than refrain from punishing the slave for his escape, if Paul had retained him to himself, in which case, therefore, Philemon might have seemed to be kind compulsorily . This explanation, brought out by the insertion of thoughts between the lines, is to be set aside as at variance with the context, since there is nothing in the connection to point to the definition of the notion of τὸ ἀγαθόν σου as goodness towards Onesimus , but on the contrary this expression can only acquire its import through the delicately thoughtful ἵνα ὑπὲρ σοῦ μοι διακονῇ κ . τ . λ .

ὡς κατὰ ἀνάγκην ] emphatically prefixed, and Ὡς expresses the idea: “ so that it appears as constrained .” Comp. Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 360. On κατὰ ἀνάγκ ., by way of constraint (in the passive sense), by compulsion , comp. Thucyd. vi. 10. 1; Polyb. iii. 67. 5; 2Ma 15:2 ; on the contrast, comp. 1 Peter 5:2 : μὴ ἀναγκαστῶς , ἀλλʼ ἑκουσίως ; Thucyd. viii. 27. Philemon 1:3 : ΚΑΘʼ ἙΚΟΥΣΊΑΝ ΠΆΝΥ ΓΕ ἈΝΆΓΚῌ , Plat. Prot . p. 346 B.

[75] Seneca, De Benef. ii. Phm 1:4 : “Si vis scire an velim, effice ut possim nolle.” Luther aptly remarks: a constrained will is not voluntas , but noluntas.

[76] That the manumission did take place, has been inferred from the tradition that Onesimus became a bishop . It may have taken place, but it is not meant here .

Verse 15

Philemon 1:15 . Paul now supports his course of procedure in having given up his previous plan of retaining Onesimus with him, and in sending the latter back, by the consideration that the brief separation of the slave from his master may perhaps have had the Providential destined aim, etc. This destined aim would have been in fact counteracted by the ulterior keeping apart of the slave from Philemon.

τάχα ] easily, perhaps , Romans 5:7 . So also in classical writers, but more frequently conjoined with ἄν . Comp. for a similar use of ἴσως , Luke 20:13 , and Buttmann, ad Soph, Phil. p. 180. Chrysostom aptly remarks: καλῶς τὸ τάχα , ἵνα εἴξῃ ὁ δεσπότης · ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ἀπὸ αὐθαδείας γέγονενφυγὴ καὶ διεστραμμένης διανοίας , καὶ οὐκ ἀπὸ προαιρέσεως , λέγει τάχα . A categoric assertion, although appropriate to the expression of a firm confidence, would have been less sparing of the feelings in the relation of the injured master to the fugitive slave, than the problematic mode of expression; it may readily be, that the way of the μοῖρα Θεοῦ has been such, etc.

ἐχωρίσθη ] εὐφήμως καὶ τὴν φυγὴν χωρισμὸν καλεῖ , ἵνα μὴ τῷ ὀνόματι τῆς φυγῆς παροξύντὸν δεσπότην , Theophylact. The aim of soothing underlies also the choice of the passive expression, as Chrysostom says: οὐκ εἶπεν · ἐχώρισεν ἑαυτόνοὐ γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸ κατασκύασμα τὸ ἐπὶ τούτῳ ἀναχωρῆσαι κ . τ . λ .

πρὸς ὥραν ] Comp. 2 Corinthians 7:8 ; Gal 2:5 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:17 . This relative statement of time leaves it entirely undefined, how long the brief stay of Onesimus with Paul lasted.

ἵνα ] divine destined aim therein. Chrysostom and Jerome already refer to Genesis 45:5 .

αἰώνιον ] not adverb, which is αἰωνίως , but accusative, so that the adverbial notion is expressed by way of predicate. Winer, p. 433 [E. T. 582]; Kühner, II. 1, p. 234 f. Erasmus aptly observes: “ipsum jam non temporarium ministrum, sed perpetuo tecum victurum .” The notion itself, however, is not to be taken as the indefinite perpetuo (Calvin, Grotius, and many), or more precisely per omnem tuam vitam (Drusius, Heinrichs, Flatt, Demme, and others), in. connection with which Beza and Michaelis point to the ordinances of the law with regard to the perpetua mancipia (Exodus 21:6 ; Deuteronomy 15:17 ); but as is alone consonant with the N.T. use of the word concerning the future, and the Pauline doctrine of the approaching establishment of the kingdom in the definite sense: for ever , embracing the expiring αἰὼν οὗτος and the αἰὼν μέλλων attaching itself thereto, and presupposing the Parousia, which is still to be expected within the lifetime of both parties; but not, that the Christian brotherly union reaches into eternity (Erasmus, Estius, de Wette, and others); so in the main also Hofmann: “as one who remains to him for ever , hot merely for lifetime ; “comp. Bleek.

ἀπέχῃς ] Comp. Philippians 4:18 ; Matthew 6:2 . The compound expression ( mayest have away ) denotes the definitive final possession.

Verse 16

Philemon 1:16 . Altered relation which with the αἰώνιον αὐτὸν ἀπέχειν was to take effect, and thenceforth to subsist, between Philemon and Onesimus.

οὐκέτι ὡς δοῦλον ] in this is implied not a hint of manumission , but the fact that, while the external relation of slavery remains in itself unchanged, the ethical relation has become another , a higher one ( ὑπὲρ δοῦλον ), a brotherly relation of affection ( ἀδελφ . ἀγαπ .). Christianity does not abolish the distinctions of rank and station, but morally equalizes them (comp. on ἰσότητα , Colossians 4:1 ; 1 Timothy 6:2 ), inasmuch as it pervades them with the unifying consecration of the life in Christ, [77] 1Co 7:21 f., 1 Corinthians 12:13 ; Galatians 3:28 ; Colossians 3:11 . To the Ὡς the following ὙΠΈΡ is correlative: not further in the quality of a slave , but in a higher manner than as a slave ; ἀδελφὸν ἀγαπ ., as a beloved brother , is then the epexegesis of ὑπὲρ δοῦλον . And the latter is conceived of thus: so that he is beyond and above a δοῦλος , is more than such. Comp. Plato, Rep. p. 488 A; Legg. viii. p. 839 D: οὐκ ἔστιν ὑπὲρ ἄνθρωπον ; 2Ma 9:8 .

ΜΆΛΙΣΤΑ ἘΜΟῚ Κ . Τ . Λ . ] belongs to ἈΔΕΛ . ἈΓΑΠ . In that view ΜΆΛΙΣΤΑ has its reference in the relation of Onesimus to his fellow-Christians, with whom he has hitherto been brought into connection ; among these it was Paul , to whom he stood most of all that is, in higher degree than to any other in the relation of a beloved brother.

πόσῳ δὲ μᾶλλον σοί ] since he is thy property, and does not enter into merely temporary connection with thee, such as that in which he stood with me; see Philemon 1:15 .

ΚΑῚ ἘΝ ΣΑΡΚῚ ΚΑῚ ἘΝ ΚΥΡ .] specifies the two domains, in which Onesimus will be to him yet far more a beloved brother than to the apostle, namely, in the flesh , i.e. in the sphere pertaining to the material nature of man , in things consequently that concern the bodily life and needs, and in the Lord , i.e. in the higher spiritual life-sphere of fellowship with Christ. Accordingly, ἐν σαρκί Philemon has the brother as a slave, and ἘΝ ΚΥΡΊῼ the slave as a brother; how greatly, therefore, must he, in view of the mutual connection and interpenetration of the two relations, have him, as well ἐν σαρκί as ἐν κυρίῳ , as a beloved brother! How much more still ( πόσῳ δὲ μᾶλλον ) must Onesimus thus be such an one to Philemon, than to the apostle! The two domains of life designated by ἘΝ ΣΑΡΚΊ and ἘΝ ΚΥΡΊῼ which, connected by ΚΑῚ ΚΑΊ , exclude the conception of ethical contrast [78] are to be left in all their comprehensiveness. Influenced by the erroneous presupposition of manumission (see on Philemon 1:15 ), de Wette thinks in ἐν σαρκί of the family-relation into which the manumitted one enters.

[77] In accordance with this Christian-ideal mode of view we have to leave οὐκέτι absolute, and not to weaken it by μόνον to be mentally supplied (Grotius, Storr, Flatt); comp. on Colossians 3:23 .

[78] Comp. Eklund, σάρξ vocabulum ap. Paul. , Lund 1872, p. 47 f.

Verse 17

Philemon 1:17 . Οὖν ] resuming ; see on Philemon 1:12 , where the request, to which utterance is only now finally given after the moving digressions Philemon 1:13-16 , was already to be expressed.

The emphasis, and that in the way of furnishing a motive, lies upon κοινωνόν : if thou hast me as a partner , if thou standest in this relation to me, according to which consequently the refusal of the request would appear as proof of the contrary. As to this use of ἔχειν , comp. on Matthew 14:4 . The notion of the κοινωνία is not to be restricted more narrowly than is implied in the idea of Christian fellowship, and so of common believing, loving, hoping, disposition, working, and so forth; while Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, and others bring out only the partnership of the φρονεῖν and the striving; whereas others, as Estius, Rosenmüller, Heinrichs, Flatt, et al. , explain κοινωνόν as friend , and Beza and Bengel refer it to the community of property : “Si mecum habere te putas communia bona, ut inter socios esse soleat” (Beza); comp. Grotius. The ὡς is: so as if thou receivedst me , as if I now came to thee; for see Philemon 1:12 . Theophylact: τίνα οὐκ ἂν κατεδυσώπησε ; τίς γὰρ οὐκ ἂν ἐθέλησε Παῦλον προσδέξασθαι , Erasmus: “recipias oportet velut alterum me .” On προσλαβοῦ , comp. Romans 16:1 ; Romans 15:7 .

Verse 18

Philemon 1:18 . And herein the offence against thee, with which Onesimus is chargeable, is not to present an obstacle.

εἰ ] indication in a hypothetic form, so as to spare the feelings: Attic politeness, see Herbst, ad Xen. Mem. i. 5. 1; Bornem. ad Conviv. iv. 3; Winer, p. 418 [E. T. 562].

τι ἠδίκησέ σε ] Comp. Colossians 3:25 ; Galatians 4:12 ; Acts 25:10 . In what the wrong done to Philemon by Onesimus, and without doubt confessed to the apostle by the latter, actually consisted, is hinted in what follows.

ὀφείλει or more precisely to describe this ἠδίκησε ] oweth (anything). This applies to a money-debt (see Philemon 1:19 ). Accordingly the slave had probably been guilty, not merely in general of a fault in service which injured his master (Hofmann), but in reality (comp. already Chrysostom) of purloining or of embezzlement, which Paul here knows how to indicate euphemistically. The referring it merely to the running away itself, and the neglect of service therewith connected, would not be (in opposition to Bleek) in keeping with the hypothetical form of expression.

τοῦτο ] the τί , which he ἠδίκησέ σεὀφείλει ; hence we have not, with Grotius, Fliatt, and others, to explain these two verbs of different offences (the former as referring to theft at his running away, the latter to defalcation).

ἐμοὶ ἐλλόγα ] set it down to my account ; “me debitorem habe,” Bengel. Friendly pleasantry, which in Philemon 1:19 becomes even jocular ( μετὰ χάριτος τῆς πνευματικῆς , Chrysostom), with which the subsequent ἵνα μὴ λέγω σοι κ . τ . λ . is very compatible (in opposition to Hofmann), if it is correctly apprehended. On the form ἐλλογάω we have not, with Fritzsche, ad Rom. v. 13, at once to pronounce against it: “nulla est” (comp. Matthies: “stultum est”), since ἐλλογέω likewise is only with certainty preserved in Rom. l.c. , and in Boeckh, Inscr. I. p. 850. It is true λογάω , in Lucian, Lexiph . 15, means to be fond of speaking ; but this single passage, in which the simple form is preserved, does not suffice to negative the use of the word in the sense of reckoning .

Verse 19

Philemon 1:19 . Promissory note under his own hand, in which by the elsewhere so weighty ἐγὼ Παῦλος (Galatians 5:2 ; 2 Corinthians 10:1 , al. ) the friendly humour of the connection is rendered the more palpable through force of contrast. Whether Paul wrote the whole Epistle with his own hand (the usual view; see already Jerome, Chrysostom, and Theodoret), or only from this point onward, cannot be determined. In the latter case the raillery comes out the more prominently.

ἵνα μὴ λέγω σοι κ . τ . λ .] Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:5 , and the Latin ne dicam : “est σχῆμα παρασιωπήσεως sive reticentiae, cum dicimus omittere nos velle, quod maxime dicimus,” Grotius. The ἵνα denotes the design which Paul has in the ἔγραψαἀποτίσω ; he will, so he represents the matter, by this his note of hand avoid saying to Philemon what he withal might in strictness have to say to him that he was yet far more indebted to the apostle. Without sufficient reason, Wiesinger after a harsh and involved fashion attaches ἵνα , notwithstanding the intervening clause, to τοῦτο ἐμοὶ ἐλλόγα , and then takes the σοί , which according to the usual view belongs without emphasis to λέγω , as emphatic ( sc. ἐλλόγα ); “that reckon to me , not to say: to thee .” So too Hofmann, according to whose arbitrary discovery in the repetition of the ἐγώ the emphatic ἐμοί is held “ to continue sounding ,” until it finds in the emphatic σοί its antithesis, which cancels it. Why should not Paul, instead of this alleged “making it sound on,” have put the words ἵνα μὴ λέγω σοί , ὅτι κ . τ . λ . ( because , according to Hofmann) immediately after τοῦτο ἐμοὶ ἐλλόγα , in order thereupon to conclude this passage with the weighty ἐγὼ Παῦλος κ . τ . λ .? Besides, there would be implied in that emphasizing and antithetic reference of the σοί a pungent turn so directly and incisively putting him to shame, that it would not be in keeping with the whole friendly humorous tone of this part of the letter, which does not warrant us in presupposing a displeasure on Philemon’s part meriting so deeply earnest a putting him to shame (Hofmann). The very shaming hint, which the passage gives, is affectionately veiled in an apparent reticence by ἵνα μὴ λέγω σοι κ . τ . λ . Chrysostom already says aptly: ἐντρεπτικῶς ἅμα καὶ χαρίεντως .

The σοί added to λέγω is in keeping with the confidential tone of the Epistle. Paul would not willingly remind his friend, of his debt.

καὶ σεαυτόν ] also thine own self , διʼ ἐμοῦ γὰρ , φησὶ , τῆς σωτηρίας ἀπήλαυσας · καὶ ἐντεῦθεν δῆλον , ὡς τῆς ἀποστολικῆς ἠξιώθη διδασκαλίαςΦιλήμων , Theodoret. Through his conversion he was indebted to the apostle for his own self , namely, as subject of the ξωὴ αἰώνιος . The same view is found at Luke 9:25 . See on that passage.

προσοφείλεις ] insuper debes , Herod. vi. 59; Dem. 650, 23; Thucyd. vii. 48. 6; Xen. Cyrop . iii. 2. 16, Oec. 20. 1; Polyb. v. 88. 4. 8, viii. 25. 4; Lucian. Sacrif . 4. The conception, namely, is: “ not to say to thee, that thou (namely, because I have made thee a Christian) owest to me not merely that, which I have just declared my wish to pay to thee, out also ( καί ) thine own self besides .” With due attention to the correlation of καί and πρός , the force of the compound would not have been overlooked (Vulgate, Luther, Fliatt, and others).

Verse 20

Philemon 1:20 . Yea, brother, I would fain have profit of thee in the Lord .

ναί ] not beseeching (Grotius and many), but confirmatory (comp. on Matthew 15:27 ), as always: verily, certainly . It confirms, however, not the preceding κ . σεαυτ . μοι προσοφείλεις (de Wette and Hofmann, following Elsner), against which may be urged the emphatically prefixed ἐγώ (it must in that case logically have run: σοῦ ἐγὼ ὀναίμ .), but the whole intercession for Onesimus, in which Paul has made the cause of the latter his own . [79] He, he himself , would fain have joy at the hands of his friend Philemon in the granting of this request; himself (not, it might be, merely Onesimus) is Philemon to make happy by this compliance.

ὀναίμην ] Expression of the wish, that this might take place (Kühner, II. 1, p. 193); hence the counter-remark of Hofmann that it is not “ I would fain ,” but “ may I ,” is unmeaning. Comp. Eur. Hec. 997: ἥκιστʼ ὀναίμην τοῦ παρόντος , Ignat. Ephesians 2 : ὀναίμην ὑμῶν διὰ παντός , Romans 5 : ὀναίμην τῶν θηρίωνεὔχομαι κ . τ . λ . On the expression very current from Homer’s time ( Odyss . xix. 68, ii. 33), ὀνίναμαί τινος , to have advantage from a thing or person, to profit thereby , comp. Wetstein; on the different verbal forms of the word, Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 12 f.; Kühner, I. p. 879 f. In the N.T. it is ἅπαξ λεγόμ .; but the very choice of the peculiar word supports the usual hypothesis (although not recognised by de Wette, Bleek, and Hofmann) that Paul intended an allusion to the name Onesimus . [80] There is the additional circumstance that the emphatic ἘΓΏ ingeniously gives point to the antithetic glance back at him, for whom he has made request; comp. also Wiesinger, Ellicott, Winer.

ἐν κυρίῳ ] gives to the notion of the ὈΝΑΊΜΗΝ its definite Christian character . Just so the following ἐν Χριστῷ . Neither means: for the sake of (Beza, Grotius, Flatt, and others). No profit of any other kind whatever does Paul wish for himself from Philemon, but that, the enjoyment of which has its ground in Christ as the ethical element. Comp. χαίρειν ἐν κυρίῳ , and the like.

ἈΝΆΠΑΥΣΟΝ Κ . Τ . Λ . ] let me not wish in vain this ἘΓΏ ΣΟΥ ὈΝΑΊΜ . ἘΝ ΚΥΡ .! Refresh (by a forgiving and loving reception of Onesimus) my heart ; τὰ σπλάγχνα , seat of loving emotion , of the love concerned for Onesimus, comp. Philemon 1:7 ; not an expression of love to Philemon (Oecumenius, Theophylact), nor yet a designation of Onesimus (Philemon 1:12 ), as is maintained by Jerome, Estius, Storr, Heinrichs, Flatt, and others.

[79] With this ναί , ἀδελφέ the humorous tone has died away, and, when Paul now inserts the need of his own heart and his hearty confidence as to the compliance of his friend, the intercession receives the seal of its trustful assurance of success, and therewith its close. Chrysostom already aptly observes that the ναί , ἀδελφέ applies generally to the προσλαβοῦ requested, so that the apostle “ ἀφεὶς τὸν χαριεντισμὸν πάλιν ἔχεται τῶν πρότερων τῶν σπουδαίων .”

[80] The allusion would have been more easily seized, if Paul had written in some sach way as: ναί , ἀδελφέ , ἐμοὶ σὺ ὀνήσιμος εἴης . But, as he has expressed it, it is more delicate and yet palpable enough, especially for the friend of whom he makes the request.

Verse 21

Philemon 1:21 . Conclusion of the whole matter of request, and that “as if for a last precaution” (Ewald), with the expression of the confidence, to which his apostolic dignity entitled him ( ὑπακοῇ ), although in accordance with Philemon 1:8 he has abstained from enjoining. This, as well as the εἰδὼς ὅτι κ . τ . λ ., appended by way of climax as an accompanying definition to the πεποιθὼς ὅτι κ . τ . λ ., could not but entirely remove any possible hesitation on the part of Philemon and complete the effect of the letter. Comp. already Chrysostom and Jerome.

καὶ ὑπὲρλέγω ] what , i.e. what further deeds of kindness over and above the receiving back which was asked for, the apostle leaves absolutely to his friend, without, however, wishing to hint in particular at the manumission of Onesimus (Bleek and Hofmann, following older expositors); comp. on Philemon 1:13 f. The certainty, however, that his friend will do still more , makes him the less doubt that at the least what is requested will be done. Thus there is contained in this εἰδὼς κ . τ . λ . a thoughtfully contrived incitement.

λέγω ] namely, in that which I have written. Observe the different tenses.

καί ] not merely that which I say, but also .

Verse 22

Philemon 1:22 . This further commission too what a welcome, and wisely closing, indirect support to the intercession for Onesimus! πολλὴ γὰρχάρις καὶτιμὴ Παύλου ἐνδημοῦντος , Chrysostom; and so the apostle, in fact, wished soon himself to see what effect his intercession had had.

ἅμα δὲ καί ] that is, simultaneously with that , which thou wilt do in the case of Onesimus. This is the sense of the adverbial ἅμα in all passages, [81] even Colossians 4:3 ; Acts 24:26 ; and 1 Timothy 5:13 (in opposition to Hofmann), and among the Greek writers, so that it by no means expresses merely the conception of being joined , that the one is to associate itself with the other (Hofmann), but the contemporary connection of the one action with the other; Suidas: ἐπὶ τοῦ κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν καιρόν . Bleek erroneously renders: at the same time also I entreat thee ; so, too, de Wette, as if ἅμα δὲ καὶ παρακαλῶ or the like were in the text.

ἑτοίμαζέ μοι ξενίαν ] Paul hoped at that time for a speedy liberation; his ulterior goal was Rome; the journey thither, however, he thought of making through Asia Minor, where he also desired to come to Colossae and to take up his quarters (Acts 28:23 ) as a guest with Philemon. Comp. Introd. to Colossians, § 2. Observe, moreover, that ἅμα δὲ καί presupposes so near a use of the ξενία , as doubtless tallies with the shorter distance between Caesarea and Phrygia, but not with the distance from Rome to Phrygia, specially since, according to Philippians 1:25 f., Philippians 2:24 , Paul thought of journeying from Rome to Macedonia ; hence it would have been inappropriate and strange on his part, if, starting from Rome , he had already bespoken a lodging in Colossae , and that, too, one to be made ready so without delay .

ὑμῶν and ὑμῖν apply to the persons already named, Philemon 1:1-2 . To extend the reference further, namely, to “the body of Christians amidst which Philemon lives ” (Hofmann), is unwarranted. The expression is individualizing . On χάρισθ ., may be granted , i.e. liberated in favour of you, comp. on Acts 3:14 ; Acts 27:24 ; on διὰ τ . προσευχ . ὑμ ., Philippians 1:19 . This hope was not fulfilled. Calvin leaves this doubtful, but aptly adds: “Nihil tamen est absurdi, si spes, qualem de temporali Dei beneficio conceperit, eum frustrata fuerit.”

[81] Where, namely, there is mention of the combination of two expressions of activity, which takes place or ought to take place (as here). What ὁμοῦ is as τοπικόν , ἅμα is as χρονικόν (Ammonius, p. 13).

Verse 23

Philemon 1:23 f. Salutations from the same persons, Colossians 4:10-14 .

συναιχμάλωτός μου ] See on Colossians 4:10 . Here it further has expressly the specifically Christian character. [82] Comp. δέσμιος ἐν κυρίῳ , Ephesians 4:1 .

The Jesus Justus mentioned at Colossians 4:11 does not here join in the greeting. The reason for this cannot be ascertained. It is possible that this man was absent just at the moment of Paul’s writing the brief letter to Philemon. According to Wieseler, p. 417, he was not among those in the abode of the apostle under surveillance (in Rome).

[82] Yet ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ might also be conceived as connected with ἀσπάζεται (Bleek). Comp. Philippians 4:21 ; Romans 16:22 ; 1 Corinthians 16:19 . There is, however, no reason for separating it from the nearest word, with which even Chrysostom in his day expressly connected it.

Verse 25

Philemon 1:25 . See on Galatians 6:18 .

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Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Philemon 1". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.