« PreviousContinue »
Of the Time and Place of writing the Epistle to Philemon. That this epistle was written from Rome, about the time the epistle to the Colossians was written, may be gathered from the following circumstances. Like the epistle to the Colossians, this was written when the apostle was in bonds, ver. 1. 10. 13. 23. and when he had good hopes of obtaining his liberty, ver. 22.-Timothy joined Paul in both epistles.-Epaphroditus, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke joined in the salutations in both. Lastly, Onesimus, the bearer of this, was one of the messengers by whom the epistle to the Colossians was sent, Col. iv. 9.—But if the epistle to Philemon was written about the time the epistle to the Colossians was sent, it must have been written at Rome, in the end of A. D. 61, or in the beginning of 62.
Onesimus, in the apostle's letter to the Colossians, having been particularly recommended to their notice, Col. iv. 9. it cannot be doubted that they cheerfully received him into their church.-In the apostolical Constitutions, Lib. viii. c. 4. 6. Onesimus is said to have been bishop of Berea. But that writing is of little authority. When Ignatius wrote his epistle to the Ephesians, their bishop's name was Onesimus ; and Grotius thought he was the person for whom St. Paul interceded. But, as Lardner observes, that is not certain. Mill has mentioned a copy, in which, at the conclusion, it is said, That Onesimus died a martyr at Rome, by having his legs broken.
GREEK TEXT. CHAP. I. i Paul, a pri- 1 Παυλος, δεσμιος Χριςου soner of Jesus Christ, and Iησου, και Τιμοθεος ο αδελTimothy our brother, unto φος, Φιλημονι το αγαπητώ Philemon our dearly be
και συνεργω ημων, loved, and fellow-labourer, 2 And to our beloved
2 και Απφια τη αγαπηApphia, and Archippus τη, και Αρχισσα τω συρραour fellow-soldier, and tο τωτη ημων, και τη κατ’ οιthe church in thy house :
κον σου εκκλησια 3 Grace to you, and
3 Χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη peace, from God our Fa- απο Θεου σατρος ημων, και ther, and the Lord Jesus Κυριου Ιησου Χριςου. Christ.
4 I thank my God, mak- 4 Ευχαριςω τω Θεω μου ing mention of thee al- σαντοτε, μνείαν σου ποιουways in my prayers,
μου, 5 Hearing of thy love ακουων σου την αγαand faith, which thou hast σην και την σιςιν, ην εχεις toward the Lord Jesus,
προς τον Κυριον Ιησουν και and toward all saints;
εις παντας τους αγιους
Ver. 1.-1. Confined with a chain for Christ jesus. Δεσμιος Χριστε. This is the genitive of the object, Ess. iv. 24.--Or it may be the genitive of pos. session ; and be translated, a prisoner belonging to Christ Jesus. But as the word prisoner, does not convey a just idea of Paul's state at that time, d85. μιος is more properly translated, confined with a chain.-For an account of the manner in which the apostle was confined at Rome, see Epb.vi. 20. note.-In writing to Philemon Paul did not call himself an apostle, because he wrote only in the character of a friend, to request a favour, rather than to enjoin what was fit, ver. 8, 9.
2. And Timothy. In the preface to St. Paul's epistle to the Colossians, Sect. 1. it was shewed, that the Colossians were converted by Paul. Wherefore, if Timothy assisted him in that work, being known to Phile. mon, he very properly joined Paul in this letter, to signify that he joined him in his request, as well as in his testimony concerning the good disposition of Onesimus.
3. Our brother. So the apostle called Timothy, to add dignity to his character.
4. And our fellow-labourer. This sheweth that Paul and Philemon were personally known to each other.
COMMENTARY. 1 Paul confined with a Ver. 1 Paul confined with a chain chain for? Christ Jesus, for preaching Christ Jesus to the and Timothy ? OUR bro- Gentiles, and Timothy our brother ther, 3 to Philemon the be- minister,“to Philemon the beloved of loved, and our fellow-la- us both, and our fellow-labourer in bourer,
the gospel, 2 And to Apphia the be- 2 And to Apphia the beloved of all loved, and to Archippus 1 who know her, and to Archippus our our fellow-soldier, 2 and to fellow-soldier, and to that part of the the church (xut') in thy church at Colosse which is in thy house:
house : See Rom. xvi. 5. note 1. 3 Grace be to you, and 3 We wish increase of the favour peace from God our Fa- of God and of good dispositions to ther, and from the Lord you, and happiness temporal and Jesus Christ.
eternal, from God our Father, and
from our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I give thanks to my
4 I Paul give thanks to my God Godi always, when I make always, when I make mention of thee mention of thee in my Philemon in my prayers, (see 2 Tim. prayers,
i. 3. note 3.) 5 Having heard of thy 5 Having heard of the increase love and faith which thou of thy love and faith which thou hast hast (HQ) toward the towards the Lord Jesus and to all Lord Jesus and ($15) to all who are styled saints, because they the saints.
believe on and worship the true God
in sincerity. Ver. 2.-1. And to Apphia the beloved, and to Archippus. These persons being mentioned after Philemon, and before the church in his house, it is a presumption, as the commentators observe, that they were his relations, kived in family with him, and made a part of the church 1:5* house.---Be. cause Apphia is mentioned before Archippus a minister of the gospel, some of the fathers conjecture that Apphia was Philemon's wife. Light. foot saith Archippus was his son.
2. Our fellow-soldier. See Philip. ii. 25. note 1.-By addressing this let. ter, not only to Philemon, but to Apphia also, and Archippus, and to the church in Philemon's house, and by wishing them all manner of felicity, the apostle interested the whole of Philemon's family to aid him in his solicitation for Onesimus.
Ver. 4.-1. I give thanks to my God, &c. By telling Philemon that he thanked God always in his prayers for his increasing faith and love, he in a very delicate manner prepared him for listening to the request he was about to make in behalf of Onesimus. For it was a telling him, in an indirect
6 That the communica- 6 Όπως η κοινωνια της tion of thy faith may be
σις εως σου ενεργης γενηται εν come effectual, by the acknowledging of every good επιγνωσει παντος αγαθου του thing which is in you in εν υμιν εις Χριςον Ιησουν. Christ Jesus. .
7 For we have great joy 7 Χαραν γαρ εχομεν πολand consolation in thy love, λην και παρακλησιν επι τη because the bowels of the αγαπη σου, ότι τα σπλαγχνα saints are refreshed by
των αγιων ανασεσαυται δια thee, brother.
σου, αδελφε. 8 Wherefore, though I 8 Διο σoλλην εν Χριςο might be much bold in παρρησιαν εχων επιτάσσειν Christ to enjoin thee that
σοι το ανηκον, which is convenient, ,
manner, that his own benevolent disposition would lead him to pardon Onesimus, although he had greatly offended him.
Ver. 5.–1. Heard of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward tbe Lord Jesus, and to all the saints. By a transposition not uncommon in the most elegant writings, love here, refers to the saints ; and faith, to the Lord Jesus. See Matth. xii. 22. 1 Cor. vi. 11.--Mill mentions some ancient MSS. and versions wbich read in this verse, Heard of thy faith and love, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and to all the saints.-From the expression, Heard of thy love, &c. some have inferred that the apostle was not personally acquainted with Philemon. But that no such inference can be drawn from this expression, see proved, Ephes. i. 15. note 1.
Ver. 6.-1. I pray tbat the communication, &c. Benson and Bengelius are of opinion, that the words κοινωνία της σις εως σε, do not mean Philemon's imparting the fruits of his faith to others, but his partaking of faith in common with other Christians. But, if the words toss agloss, to the saints, are supplied from the foregoing verse, after the words, thy faith, in this verse, it will affordr reaning more agreeable to the scope of the apostle's discourse. For by a common metonymy, faith, may signify the fruits of faith i and κοινωγια, construced with a dative of the person, often signifies the imparting of a thing to others. See 1 John i. 3. note 3. where the different meanings of κοινωνια are given : Also Rom. xii. 13. Gal. vi. 6. where κοιτα! signifies to distribute or impart to another. ·
2. To the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you. By using the word you, the apostle praised all the members of Philemon's family for their works of charity to the saints; but more especially Philemon himself; as it is here insinuated, that his family were led to do these benevolent offices in imitation of him.
Ver. 7.-1. The bowels of the saints are refreshed. If, by the bowels of the saints, the apostle meant the saints themselves, the refreshment of which he speaks, was produced by the relief which Philemon's works of charity
6 I PRAT that the com- 6 Also I pray, that the communi. munication of thy faith cation of the fruits of thy faith to the may be effectual, (v) to saints, in the many good offices the acknocoledgment of every which thou dost to them, may be efgood thing which is in fectual for bringing others to the acyou? (815) toward Christ knowledgment of every good disposiJesus.
tion, which is in you towards the mem
bers of Christ. 7 For we have much joy 7 For we ourselves have much joy and consolation in thy love, and consolation in thy love, more parbecause the bowels' of the ticularly because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by saints are refreshed by thee, brother : thee, brother. 2
thy house is open to them : thy
riches are a relief to all the saints. 8 (410) Wherefore, 8 Wherefore though I might be though I might be much very bold as an apostle in the church bold in Christ to enjoin of Christ, to enjoin thee, his disciple, thee' what is fit ;
to do what is fit in the affair I am going to mention;
brought to them in their distresses. And the saints who were thus refreshed, were not those alone who lived in Philemon's neighbourhood, but those also who were driven from their homes for the name of Christ ; or, who went about preaching the gospel. Perhaps also the apostle meant, that the knowledge of Philemon's charitable actions gave great joy, even to the saints who had no need of his good offices. This joy, as well as the relief above mentioned, is fitly compared by the apostle to the refreshment which a person faint with thirst receives from drink. See verse 20. note 2.
2. By thee brother. The apostle calls Philemon his brother, not merely because he was a Christian, but because he was a Christian of the same good dispositions with himself, and one whom he tenderly loved. By placing this appellation in the end of the sentence, he gave it an engaging empha. sis : So that it could not fail to make a strong impression on Philemon's mind.
Ver. 8.–1. Wherefore though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee, &c. The apostle's management in this part of his letter is excellent. He tells Philemon that although, as an apostle of Christ, he might bave commanded bim to do what was fit in the affair he was about to mention, he would not use his authority, but rather beseech him as a friend to do it. And to persuade him, he suggested such things as one friend might with propriety mention to another, of whom he was asking a favour. The person who besought Philemon, was Paul, who as we shall see immediately, was his spiritual father ; Paul grown old in the service of the gospel ; and Paul now' also confined with a chain for preaching Christ : considerations which must have made a deep impression on Philemon, who being himself a sincere Christian, could not but wish to gratify one, who, at the expense.