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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Philemon 1

Verse 1

Philemon 1:1. Paul, a prisoner, &c.— St Paul intimates, Phm 1:8-9 that he chose to lay aside all his apostolic authority, and to beg it as a favour of Philemon to be reconciled to Onesimus; and, in order to touch and melt the heart of Philemon, he begins with styling himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ. This affable and condescending manner of address must be owned to be more agreeable and engaging than that of authority and command. The apostle might here call Timothy the brother, and not his son, as he does elsewhere, to add weight and dignity to his character, and thereby render his name of more moment in behalf of Onesimus. Whoever contributed any way towards helping forward the gospel, were called the apostle's fellow-labourers. See Philemon 1:24.

Verse 2

Philemon 1:2. Apphia, This was a Roman name. St. Paul writes it Apphia, after the Hebrew manner; the Romans wrote it Appia. She is conjectured by some of the fathers, and asserted by others, to have been the wife of Philemon; and as she is mentioned next to Philemon, and beforeArchippus, who was a minister in the church at Colosse, the conjecture seems not improbable. By the apostle's styling her sister (according to the several ancient copies and versions,) or the beloved, according to the common reading, she appears to have been a Christian; and it is most likely that she was addressed, in order to engage her interest in behalf of Onesimus, with a view to whose affair the whole Epistle was evidently written, in its primary sense. Archippus has been generally thought to be Philemon's son; probably he was one of St. Paul's assistants, who had some gifts of the Spirit, and had devoted himself very much to the work of the ministry in Colosse. They might have been called fellow-soldiers with the apostles, who with them fought the good fight of faith; for the Christian life is a warfare: but the apostle seems to have used the phrase for "such as in those times of persecution took pains to preach and spread the Christian religion," Philippians 2:25. 1Ti 1:18. 2 Timothy 2:3-4. By thechurch in Philemon's house, the apostle seems to have meant his whole family, who were Christians, and united together in Christ's worship. See Rom 16:5. 1 Corinthians 16:19.

Verse 4

Philemon 1:4.— The apostle does not proceed immediately to the main subject of the Epistle; but, after the usual salutations, comes nearer to the point; with the most admirable address thanking God that Philemon had been as generous and kind already, and had done as much in other instances, as he was now going to request of him. He urges the benevolent and good man by his own past example; as if he had said, "Only continue to act like yourself, and then you will do all that I am now going to desire of you." This wascertainly a most grateful and insinuating way of pointing out to Philemon his duty, and the most proper and beautiful introduction to this particular request: Philemon 1:4-7.

Verse 5

Philemon 1:5. Hearing of thy love and faith, "Hearing, with greater pleasure than I can express, of the steady faith which thou hast, and always maintainest, toward the Lord Jesus Christ, as the great object to which our faith as Christians is directed, and of thy ardent love to all the saints, who are the excellent of the earth, and the most deserving of our esteem and affection." The words of this verse stand in the original as they are placed in our version; and many instances of such a transposition are produced by Dr. Whitby, in his learned note on this place; but Mr. Blackwall justly observes, that our language does not admit of the like, and therefore proposes the rendering which we have followed in our paraphrase above.

Verse 6

Philemon 1:6. That the communication of thy faith, &c.— "It is therefore matter of my most fervent prayer, thatthese promising openings may be abundantly answered; and that thy communion with us in the faith of our blessed Redeemer, the advantages of which thou dost now so happily share, may be more and more apparently efficacious, in extorting from all that behold it, the due acknowledgment of every good and valuable thing which is in you all towards Christ Jesus, and all those whom he is pleased to own and favour."

Verse 8

Philemon 1:8.— After this preparation, the apostle comes to the main subject of his Epistle; which was, to request Philemon to take Onesimus into his favour again. The main argument which he urges is, that he, through divine grace, had converted Onesimus to genuine Christianity, who would therefore prove another sort of servant than he had formerly been: such softness of expression, warmth of affection, and elegance of address, are here made use of, as deserve the highest approbation.

Verse 9

Philemon 1:9. Paul the aged, It is generally thought that this Epistle was written about the year of Christ 62; and if we suppose St. Paul to have been twenty-four years old when Stephen was stoned, which is consistent with his being called a young man;—that being about the year 34, (for we have not data sufficient absolutely to determine the exact time,) he would be now fifty-two; and considering how much his constitution would probably be impaired by his fatigues and sufferings, before that time he might properly enough call himself πρεσβυτης,— one advanced in age, though not an old man. Let us now attend a little to the force of the argument contained in the present verse. It is as if the apostle had said, "I am become a humble petitioner;—and consider with yourself who it is that begs this favour: It is Paul;—a name which once sounded pleasing in your ears, and a person for whom you professed a high regard; that very person, who has travelled many a hundred miles by sea and by land, through numberless difficulties, and much ill treatment for his attempts to make men wise, holy, and good through the grace of God in Jesus Christ: to whom you, Philemon, as well as many thousands, owe instrumentally the salvation of their souls, and whose very name might carry init the force of many arguments: the person who now humbly petitions you, is one who might address you in a different manner: he has been illuminated with abundance of revelations from Heaven, favoured with the power of working numerous, great, and beneficial miracles, and by the laying on of his hands is, under the Spirit of God, able to communicate spiritual gifts or miraculous powers unto others. He has been sent out among the nations, has baffled the wisdom of the world, has prevailed against the eloquence of the orators, and has overturned the schemes of the heathen philosophers, and Jewish scribes and rabbies: he has, through grace, made numerous converts, both among Jews and Gentiles; turning men from ignorance, superstition, idolatry, and vice, to knowledge, holiness, piety, virtue, and happiness. He bears a commission of a sublime nature, and of the utmost importance to the welfare of mankind; and he carries his credentials along with him: he is an ambassador for Christ, as though God did beseech you by him; and he prays you, in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to Onesimus again. Permit me also to add another circumstance, which with all humane persons, and more especially with all genuine Christians, must have great weight: the aged ambassador is now also the prisoner of Jesus Christ. I have been almost two years in the custody of a soldier, and often chained to him; confined to a disagreeable companion, and very much in his power, and at his mercy. Inquire now at Rome for the aged ambassador of Jesus Christ,—you will find him in custody, like a criminal; though really wearing that chain onlyfor preaching the gospel, especially among you Gentiles. And, finally, consider him whose ambassador and prisoner I am; my commission is from a Person of highest dignity, for whose sake I can endure a prison, and joyfully wear this chain; and I am persuaded that your regard to him is not small, nor will you suffer an ambassador and prisoner of Christ to petition in vain." Almost every word carries in it the force of an argument; Philemon's love to the person of St. Paul,—his regard for his high office and dignity, as the aged ambassador of Christ,—his love and cheerful obedience to the Lord Jesus himself, are all touched upon or intimated in this short sentence

Verse 10

Philemon 1:10. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, The order of the original words is this: I entreat thee for a son of mine, whom I have begotten in my bonds,—Onesimus. Thus the mind is kept in an agreeable suspense; and it must have affected Philemon in such a manner, as to render it impossible for him to withstand an entreaty proposed with so much delicacy and modesty.

Verse 11

Philemon 1:11. To thee unprofitable, but now profitable, &c.— The word Onesimus is generallyknown to signifyprofitable, and Onesiphorus is much of the same import: they were names which might perhaps have been given to slaves by way of good omen, expressing expectation that they would bring advantage to their masters; and it is very evident that St. Paul refers to the etymology of the word.

Verse 12

Philemon 1:12. Mine own bowels: There are a number of passages in the ancient Greek and Latin writers, where children are called the bowels of their parents. Observe how the apostle rises in his expressions: in Phm 1:10 it was, my son Onesimus: here it is mine own bowels, or "my most dearly and tenderly-beloved son;" and Phm 1:17 it is, myself, or my very self. There is that in Christianity which so far throws down distinctions, as to set all good men upon a level,without destroying in the least degree that subordination which is essential to the existence of society. A slave, upon becoming a good Christian, is the son, the friend, the brother, the bowels, and the very soul or self of the great apostle of the Gentiles: such an alteration does the gospel make in spirituals, while it destroys not the civil distinctions among men. How graceful is the apostle's manner of condescension! He had before laid aside all his apostolic authority, and entreated Philemon as a supplicant: he now humbles himself to a level with Onesimus, to exalt Onesimus's character, and to intimate the worthiness of the person for whom he was petitioning. With what zeal and ardent affection does he serve his friend! How skilfully and strenuously does he plead his cause! adding motive to motive, though in the most concise and elegant manner, like one who was unwilling to take a denial. Scipio Gentilis has endeavoured to shew, that this Epistle has several of the beauties which shine in Demosthenes and Tully, and which Aristotle and Longinus have admired and celebrated in the ancient poets and orators.

Verse 13

Philemon 1:13. In the bonds of the gospel: This is the fourth time that St. Paul has, in this short Epistle, put Philemon in mind of his bonds: he touches them a fifth time, Philemon 1:23. And whoever will be at the pains to compare the places in which he has mentioned those bonds, and other afflictions, will find that he has always done sowith an elegant propriety, which marks out his great penetration and judgment. See particularly Acts 26:29. 2 Corinthians 11:23.Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 6:20. Philippians 1:7. 2 Timothy 2:8-9. &c.

Verse 14

Philemon 1:14. That thy benefit That is, "Thy goodness to Onesimus, in readily pardoning him, and treating him kindly for the future."

Verse 15

Philemon 1:15. For perhaps he therefore departed As Phm 1:13-14 were thrown in by way of parenthesis, this 15th verse must be considered as connected in sense with Philemon 1:12. As the event had been so happy, St. Paul ascribes it to God: Onesimus designed no such thing by his flight; Philemon did not send him to Rome for that purpose, and St. Paul had not sent to Colosse for him: there was no human contrivance to accomplish so great and good an event; but God, in the course of his wise providence, had so ordered it, that Onesimus's going to Rome had been the happy occasion of his becoming a gracious Christian. Philemon, therefore, could not be angry at such an event, unless he had a mind to quarrel with Divine Providence, the progress of the gospel, the conversion and welfare of Onesimus, and what would in the end prove his own advantage. Thus the patriarch Joseph ascribed his going into Egypt to Divine Providence, though it had been occasioned by the treachery and malice of his brethren. See Genesis 45:5; Genesis 50:20. It may not be improper to attend to the apostle's soft and tender manner of expressing this: Perhaps—he speaks a little dubiously: he was unwilling to pry into the secret views of Providence; but the event seemed to justify such a construction. The word 'Εχωρισθη we have translated he departed;—which is softer than to have said, he absconded, or ran away, like a criminal; but the Greek word signifies he was separated, which is still softer. That separation had been but of very short continuance; προς οραν, for an hour; for so short a space, that he could scarcely be accounted a fugitive; especially as he had returned voluntarily, and so much improved. He was separated from his master for an hour, that he might receive him again for ever. In which words St. Paul promises, in effect, that Onesimus would not run away any more: he was fully persuaded of the sincerity of his repentance and conversion, and that he would behave well for the time to come. See Exodus 2:6. Deuteronomy 15:17. Leviticus 25:0.

Verse 16

Philemon 1:16. Not now as a servant, The word Δουλον should have been translated a slave. Slaves were then bought and sold, like cattle, in the market; and the descendants of such slaves were born slaves: they did not receive wages, nor could they at their pleasure hire themselves to other masters, but were looked upon as their master's goods and possessions. Christianity, as we have often observed, does not alter men's civil obligations or privileges; but it should be observed, that the buying and selling men for slaves is quite another matter, and one which much concerns those who are engaged in it very seriously to consider: and it is with great pleasure, that on this occasion I refer to Mr. Granville Sharpe's humane and benevolent treatise on the subject, entitled, "A Representation of the Injustice and dangerous Tendency of tolerating Slavery."

Verse 17

Philemon 1:17. If thou count me therefore a partner, "If, therefore, thou esteemest me as a friend and companion in Christ." L'Enfant translates it, "I conjure thee, therefore, by all that is common between us, receive him as myself." But the main thought which prevailed in the apostle's mind, seems to have been the participation they both had in the blessings of the gospel, which was the clearer bond of their friendship. The apostle petitions like one quite in earnest. See on Philemon 1:12. Christian friendship is not like the friendships of this world, which are often confederacies in vice,orleagues in pleasure: it is founded on truth, holiness, piety, and extensive virtue, and is therefore the warmest, sincerest, and most durable friendship; not inconsistent, but accompanied with benevolence to all mankind.

Verse 18

Philemon 1:18. If he hath wronged thee, Here is a plain confirmation of the doctrine of restitution. Where any person has injured another, he is obliged by the laws of God and conscience to make reparation as far as he is able, even where the law of the land may not compel him to do so; unless the injured party freely forgive him. We may here again observe how cautiously the apostle proceeds: he would not mention the theft or robbery, till he had prepared the way by saying a number of kind things of Onesimus; and then, when he comes to touch upon it, how soft is his language! He does not call it theft, or robbery, but wronging or injuring him in some respect; or, owing him some money; which last is the language in case of a debt honourably contracted. Observe further, the apostle does not absolutely assert, that Onesimus had done Philemon any injury, or owed him money; but if it was so: and finally we may compare the apostle's circumstances with those of Philemon. The apostle was a prisoner; Philemon at full ease and liberty: the apostle poor; Philemon most probably master of a plentiful estate; who was much more likely to have bestowed something upon the apostle, than to have taken any thing from him. But St. Paul would save something out of the kindness and charity of his friends while he was a prisoner, or work with hisown hands when he was set at liberty, to raise the money, rather than restitution should not be made, if Philemon should insist upon it: or Philemon might reckon it a discharge, in part at least, of the debt which he owed the apostle as his spiritual father under the grace of God.

Verse 19

Philemon 1:19. I Paul have written it with mine own hand, The apostle seems commonly to have dictated, and another person to have wrote down what he said; or to have written a copy, and another transcribed it; (see 2Th 3:17. 2 Peter 3:1.) but he probably wrote all this letter with his own hand; not only to engage to make restitution, if demanded, but to let Philemon see how much he interested himself in this affair. He directly promises to make restitution; but in an oblique manner only insinuates his own claim upon Philemon; whose conversion being one of the happy consequences of St. Paul's ministry, the apostle might justly saythat Philemon owed to him even his own self, or his very soul. How great an obligation has he expressed in these few words!

Verse 20

Philemon 1:20. Yea, brother, The word 'Αναπαυσον, rendered refresh, is very emphatical; it literally signifies to appease, or quiet; which strongly intimates the emotion which the apostle felt, through the ardour of his concern for Onesimus, and seems to represent the eagerness of his desire for his re-establishment in Philemon's favour, by the appetite of hunger. Compare Phm 1:7 where the same word is used, and seems to be referred to here with peculiar beauty and propriety. See Matthew 10:40, &c. and Matthew 25:40; Matthew 25:45.

Verse 21

Philemon 1:21. In thy obedience The word 'Υπακοη frequently signifies obedience. Here it must be understood for compliance, inasmuch as the apostle had declared, Phm 1:8-9 he could have commanded, but chose rather to entreat.

Verse 22

Philemon 1:22. But withal prepare me, &c.— The apostle's desiring Philemon to prepare him a lodging, shews that he had expectations of being set at liberty, and that then he designed them a visit at Colosse: it may also lead us to conclude, that this Epistle was written not long before the apostle was set at liberty from his first confinement at Rome, mentioned Acts 28:30. See also Philippians 2:24. We have observed before, that Philemon was a rich man; his house appears to have been a place of entertainment for the Christians who travelled that way; and therefore St. Paul desired to have a lodging among the rest: but the principal view seems to have been, not only to tell Philemon the agreeable news that he was likely to have such a guest, but to put him upon considering how he could see the apostle's face, if he denied his reasonable and earnest request for Onesimus. See Acts 12:5; Acts 12:25.

Verse 25

Philemon 1:25. Be with your spirit, 'Υμων, your, is in the plural number, and denotes not Philemon's spirit only, but that of his whole family also, or all the persons addressed in the beginning of the Epistle. See 1 Thessalonians 5:28. We have frequently hinted at the excellence of this Epistle; which must be allowed to be a master-piece in its kind, considered as a merely human composition; how much more so as dictated by the infallible Spirit of God! We could with the learned reader to compare it with an epistle of Pliny, which seems to have been written on a similar occasion:—lib. 9: ep. 21 which, though penned by one universally allowed to excel in the epistolary stile, and though it has undoubtedly many beauties, yet must be acknowledged by every impartial reader to be greatly inferior to this animated composition of our apostle.

Inferences.—How amiable is the condescension of the holy apostle! how charming and delicate his address in this whole chapter! St. Paul lays aside the authority, which his office, his age, his suffering, gave him, to address Philemon, as on a foot of equal friendship, choosing rather by love to entreat. Let the example be imitated by those in superior stations and relations of life; and let them learn likewise, from the tenderness which such a man expresses about this poor slave, in whom he traced the appearance of a truly Christian temper, to interest themselves in the happiness of those whose rank is far beneath their own; and learn to make the situation of their servants easy by a kind and friendly treatment. Well may such a care be expected, especially when we can look on such as brethren, beloved in the Lord, and partakers with us in the same Saviour and hope.

Let those, to whom God hath blessed the labours of his faithful ministers, as the means of their conversion, remember it with pleasure, and ascribe it to the riches of divine grace, to which all is originally to be traced; remembering also, that there is a sense in which they owe even themselves to those who have been honoured as the instruments of bringing them to Christ, without an acquaintance with whom they had lost themselves, and been ruined for ever. Let the kindness which St. Paul expresses for Onesimus, in being willing that his debt to Philemon should be charged to his account, lead us to reflect on our infinite obligations to a gracious Redeemer, who has paid a complete ransom for the sins of the world. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with our spirit, to produce those strong impressions of wonder, thankfulness, and love, which ought to fill it on every remembrance of such overflowing and triumphant mercy as our adorable Saviour has manifested to us! Amen.
[ See Bishop Smallridge, Lardner, Benson, Michaelis, Locke, Whitby, Blackwall, Doddridge, Ward, Bentley, Wetstein, Wolfius, Pricaeus, Le Clerc, Granville Sharpe, Foster, Ralphelius, Stockius, and Theodoret.]

REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have the preface to this short but beautiful epistle; and may observe,

1. The persons from whom it comes: from Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, now suffering for the gospel cause; and Timothy our brother: and where two such eminent servants of the Saviour concurred in a request, what could be denied them?

2. The persons to whom it is directed: unto Philemon our dearly beloved brother in Christ, and fellow-labourer in the gospel; and to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow-soldier, in the glorious warfare under Christ the Captain of our salvation; and to the church in thy house, his whole family being converts to the faith, or the faithful at Colosse assembled there for worship; and, by thus saluting them, he seems desirous to interest them on his behalf, and to solicit their concurrence in the request he was about to make.

3. The salutation. Grace to you, in all its comprehensive import; and peace, flowing from a sense of pardon and acceptance; and both proceeding from God our Father, from his free and unmerited love, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom all spiritual blessings have been purchased, and through whom alone they are bestowed upon us.

4. His thankfulness and prayer. I thank my God, whom I ardently love, making mention of thee always in my prayers, whenever I approach a throne of grace, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; for which I offer my unceasing praises, and add my fervent prayers, that the communication of thy faith may become effectual, to engage thee to every farther instance of generosity and benevolence, by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you, in, or towards, Christ Jesus, to whom much glory will redound, and many thanks be offered by those who feel the benefit of these gracious dispositions which the Saviour hath implanted, and which manifest themselves in every work and labour of love toward his people for his sake: for we have great joy and consolation in hearing of thy distinguished love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother, who gratefully acknowledge thy extensive charity; and this emboldens me to hope, that in the present instance my petition will be successful.

2nd, The apostle comes to the main business of the Epistle, to entreat for poor Onesimus: and he insinuates a multitude of the most powerful arguments which should engage Philemon to grant his request, and be reconciled to his fugitive servant.
1. He might have used his apostolic authority, but he prefers the entreaty of love. Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ, to enjoin thee that which is convenient, and it would have been your duty in the present case implicitly to obey; yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, waving all superiority, and pleading by that love which Jesus hath shewn to you, and I feel towards you, being such an one as Paul the aged, grown old in the service of our common Lord, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ; therefore I cannot but be assured, whatever would be a comfort to me in these declining years, and serve to make my chain lighter, Philemon, for his Master's sake and mine, will not fail to grant.—Inimitable is the manner in which the apostle introduces the point that he had in view. Having raised every tender sentiment of love and friendship in his bosom, he,

2. Beautifully introduces in the most endearing light the subject of his request. I beseech thee for my son, one that now stands in that near relation to me,—and startle not at the name,—strange as it may appear,—the person is no other than Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds. So mysterious are the ways of Providence, that though a fugitive from thee, he has led him to my prison, there to receive through my instrumentality the gracious offers of the blessings of the gospel.

3. He suggests the happy change now wrought upon him, which in time past was to thee unprofitable; with penitent shame he has acknowledged his former ill behaviour, over which I would cast a veil of oblivion; but now can speak of him as a different man, whose spirit and actions I am confident will correspond with his name, and he will be found profitable to thee, if received again into thy service; and, as I have proved by some experience, would have been most useful to me. Note; (1.) When we speak of the faults of penitents, it should be with tenderness, not severity. (2.) Wherever divine grace comes, it makes a blessed alteration. (3.) A Christian servant is a truly profitable member in every family.

4. His own love to this signal convert should engage Philemon's to him. When I have sent again back to thy service; thou therefore receive him, that is mine own bowels; most tenderly beloved, and for whom I plead with all the affection that I should feel for my own child.

5. He had deprived himself of the very useful service which Onesimus would have afforded him, that he might restore him to his rightful master; referring it to Philemon whether he would send him back again to Rome, or not. Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel, and done me those kind offices which I know thou wouldst have been happy to have afforded me thyself. But without thy mind would I do nothing, nor detain him longer here; that, if it shall please thee to do me the favour of sending him hither again to minister unto me, thy benefit should not appear to be as it were of necessity, but willingly, as a voluntary act of generosity and friendship.

3rdly, The apostle proceeds to suggest other arguments to engage Philemon kindly to receive this fugitive.
1. The mercy God had shewed him. For perhaps he therefore departed for a season; so tenderly does the apostle mention his fault in flying his master's service, since it was now so wonderfully by God's providence over-ruled for good; that thou shouldest receive him for ever, as a servant for life, if thou pleasest; and if you both continue perseveringly to cleave to Jesus, a companion to all eternity: yet not now as a common servant, or slave, but above a servant, even as a brother in the gospel, beloved and dear; especially to me, who have been the happy instrument of his conversion; but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, as a member of thy family, become most faithful and industrious; and in the Lord, as equally a partaker in the blessings of the Redeemer's grace and love. Note; (1.) God sometimes amazingly over-rules evil for the production of the greatest good. (2.) Though Christianity maintains in the strictest manner all due subordination of stations, yet real Christian servants will have especial respect and regard shewn them by pious masters, who, as members of the same body, esteem them as their beloved brethren.

2. The communion which subsisted between them, as fellow-heirs of the same kingdom. If thou count me therefore a partner, a partaker of the same grace, and an heir of the same glory with thee, receive him as myself, with hearty affection and sincere reconciliation.

3. He becomes Onesimus's surety for any wrong that Philemon had sustained. If, as I have reason to apprehend, he hath wronged thee or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account. I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it, and engage hereby to make you full satisfaction if demanded. Albeit I do not say to thee how deeply thou art indebted to me, as the instrument under God, and that thou owest unto me, what is infinitely more valuable than all the wealth of the world, even thine own soul also.

4. This instance of his condescension to his request, would give the apostle singular satisfaction, as a fresh proof of Philemon's fidelity. Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: on thy own account, as well as for the sake of Onesimus, I ask it, that I may have rejoicing over thee, as a living member of Jesus. Refresh my bowels in the Lord, and give me this consolation in my bonds, for that Redeemer's sake in whose name I urge my request, Note; (1.) Christians are brethren, and, as such, should delight to serve each other. (2.) It is highly the people's duty to endeavour to comfort their ministers, and to do every thing which may give them joy, and encourage them under their labours and sufferings for the gospel's sake.

5. He concludes with expressing his confidence in Philemon, which laid the strongest obligations upon him not to disappoint his expectations. Having confidence in thy obedience to our Lord's command to forgive every injury, I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say, and shew greater kindness to poor Onesimus than I have requested, exceeding even my desire.

4thly, Having finished his main business, he closes,
1. With the intimation of a visit shortly. But withal prepare are me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be delivered from my present confinement, and be given unto you, as a fresh act of favour from God, who, for your further edification, will enable me once more to minister his blessed gospel among you. Note; (1.) Prayer is the effectual means to procure all mercies for ourselves, and for each other. (2.) To have God's ministers spared to labour yet longer among us, is a signal favour.

2. He sends the salutations of many who desired to be kindly remembered to him.
3. He concludes with his usual benediction. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in all its happy fruits, and eternally permanent effects, be with your spirit, with thee, and with all that are near and dear to thee, to bless, preserve, and keep you for his everlasting kingdom. Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Philemon 1". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.