Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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PHILEMON - Chapter 1

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Supplemental Commentary:

1-3:  Address and Greeting.    1.  Prisoner: because this letter is more a personal appeal than an authoritative command St. Paul here substitutes an allusion to his bonds for the more usual title of Apostle.  See also Eph. 3, 1; 4, 1.    2.  Church: the Christians met at his home for religious services.

4-7:  Philemon's Faith and Charity.    4.  Always can also be drawn to the main clause.    5.  Faith in Jesus shown in charitable deeds toward the saints (see Col. 1, 4).    6.  May thy sharing of material possessions from motives of faith result in deeper appreciation among thy fellows of the graces our Savior has granted them as Christians.

8-20:  Plea for Onesimus.    9.  Since, etc.: in Greek: "Paul an old man---for such I am."    10.  St. Paul is the spiritual father of his converts (see 1 Cor. 4, 15).    11.  The Apostle is alluding to the slave's name---Onesimus, in Greek, means "profitable, useful."    16.  The stress lies on as.  The runaway slave Onesimus will, on his return, be treated as a fellow Christian.

21-25:  Hopes, Greetings, Blessings.  The Apostle is confident not only that his request will be more than fully granted, but that he will soon have the happiness of reunion with his friends.  He repeats the greetings already expressed in the longer letter (Col. 4, 10-17), and closes with his benediction.    21.  St. Paul does not ask directly that Philemon grant Onesimus his freedom (see 1 Tim. 6, 1 f).    22.  The Apostle expected soon to be freed at Rome (see Phil. 2, 24).

Maurice A. Hofer

Confraternity Bible:

Address and Greeting  1* Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and our brother Timothy, to Philemon, our beloved and fellow-worker, 2 and to Appia, the sister, and to Archippus, our fellow-soldier, and to the church that is in thy house: 3 grace be to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philemon's Faith and Charity  4 I give thanks to my God, always making remembrance of thee in my prayers, 5* as I hear of thy charity and of the faith that thou hast in our Lord Jesus and towards all the saints.  6 May the sharing of thy faith be made evident in full knowledge of all the good that is in you, in Christ Jesus.  7 For I had great joy and consolation in thy charity, because through thee, brother, the hearts of the saints have found rest.

Plea for Onesimus  8 For this reason, though I am very confident that I might charge thee in Christ Jesus to do what is fitting, 9 yet for the sake of charity I prefer to plead, since thou art such as thou art; as Paul, an old man---and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ--- 10 I plead with thee for my own son, whom I have begotten in prison, for Onesimus.  11 He once was useless to thee, but now is useful both to me and to thee.  12 I am sending him back to thee, and do thou welcome him as though he were my very heart.  13 I had wanted to keep him here with me that in thy stead he might wait on me in my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but I did not want to do anything without thy counsel, in order that thy kindness might not be as it were of necessity, but voluntary.

15 Perhaps, indeed, he departed from thee for a short while so that thou mightiest receive him forever, 16 no longer as a slave, but instead of a slave as a brother most dear, especially to me, and how much more to thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord!  17 If, therefore, thou dost count me as a partner, welcome him as thou wouldst me.  18 And if he did thee any injury or owes thee anything, charge it to me.  19 I, Paul, write it with my own hand: I will repay it---not to say to thee that thou owest me thy very self.  20 Yes, indeed, brother!  May I, too, make use of thee in the Lord!  Console my heart in the Lord!

Hopes, Greetings, Blessings  21 Trusting in thy compliance I am writing to thee, knowing that thou wilt do even beyond what I say.  22 At the same time make ready a lodging for me too, for I hope that through your prayers I shall be restored to you.  23 Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus, 24 Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow-workers, send thee greetings.  25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen.

1: Philemon had been converted to Christianity by St. Paul, probably during the latter's long stay at Ephesus (Acts 19, 10).

5: Faith draws them to our Lord, charity to the brethren.