corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.05.24
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Philemon 1

 

 

Introduction

It will be remembered that this epistle is no longer extant in B.

Title, πρὸς Φιλήμονα אA, a few cursives, memph., gothic. 257 (fscr = Evan. 543) has παῦλος ἐπιστέλλει τάδε βέβαια Φιλήμονι πιστῷ (vide Scrivener’s Cod. Augiensis, Appendix, p. 520), which by correcting βέβαια to βαιὰ makes an hexameter, “Paul on a slender theme thus writes to the faithful Philemon” (see Moule).


Verse 1

1. Παῦλος δέσμιος, “Paul, prisoner of Christ Jesus.” St Paul uses no title of office (ἀπόστολος) or of service (δοῦλος); he simply reminds Philemon of his present condition, that from the very first Philemon may be moved to sympathy with him and his request. Cf. Colossians 4:18, note, also Philemon 1:9 infra. The appeal is strengthened by the absence of the article (contrast Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 4:1).

Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. His imprisonment is different from that of criminals. It is Christ who has brought him into prison. Cf. Philemon 1:9; Philemon 1:13; Ephesians 3:1. See Winer, § 30. 2 β and note.

καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφὸς. See notes on Colossians 1:1. Timothy as well as St Paul was interested in the case of Onesimus. Cf. the following ἡμῶν. He was probably much at Ephesus with St Paul on his third missionary journey (cf. Acts 19:22), and may well have entered into friendly relationship with Philemon then.

Φιλήμονι. Here only. The name is not uncommon in Greek writings and inscriptions. Philemon and Baucis were the aged peasants in Phrygia who entertained Jupiter and Mercury unawares (cf. Ovid, Met. VIII. 626 sq.), and a Phrygian named Philemon, and apparently a slave, became notorious at Athens. “Otherwise the name is not distinctively Phrygian. It does not occur with any special frequency in the inscriptions belonging to this country; and though several persons bearing this name rose to eminence in literary history, not one, so far as we know, was a Phrygian” (Lightfoot, p. 370).

That our Philemon was at Colossae when this epistle was written may be gathered from the facts that the epistle to the Colossians states that Onesimus belonged to that town and was immediately returning there (Colossians 4:9), and this epistle (written, as it would seem, at the same time) speaks of his being sent back to Philemon (Philemon 1:12). Also the connexion of Philemon with Archippus suggests, at the least, connexion with Colossae (Colossians 4:17). That he was converted by means of St Paul is, apparently, implied in Philemon 1:19; and that he endeared himself to St Paul and Timothy and was associated with them in Christian work is stated in the following words. That he was a man of some substance is implied not only by his “owning a slave (I)” (as van Manen satirically puts it, Enc. Bib. 3694), but also by possessing a house large enough to form the meeting-place of a body of Christians (Colossians 4:2), and further by his hospitality to, as it seems, even brethren from a distance (Colossians 4:5-7). As to the place where St Paul became acquainted both with him and, as it would seem, with his wife and son, we have no information, save that it was not at Colossae (Colossians 2:1); presumably Philemon came to Ephesus or its neighbourhood, either on a short visit for business or pleasure, or possibly to stay some time (cf. Priscilla and Aquila). Of his nationality we have no hint, but there is nothing to suggest that he was not a Gentile.

τῷ ἀγαπητῷ καὶ συνεργῷ ἡμῶν. ἡμῶν doubtless belongs to both. Because the phrase is unique D* d Ambrst add ἀδελφῷ after ἀγαπητῷ. For ἀγαπητῷ see Colossians 1:7, note, and also Philemon 1:16 infra. For συνεργός see Colossians 4:11 note and also Philemon 1:24 infra.


Verses 1-3

1–3. Address and greeting. In the usual form employed by St Paul with modifications due to the special circumstances of this letter


Verse 2

2. καὶ Ἀπφίᾳ. Lightfoot (p. 372 sqq.) shows convincingly from the inscriptions that this is not the Latin Appia, for it and its congeners always have the aspirate, but a native Phrygian name, of which the root is apparently a term of endearment or relationship. It may be assumed that she was the wife of Philemon, and would therefore take interest in the return of Onesimus. St Paul wisely includes her name when about to plead for him.

τῇ ἀδελφῇ, “Therefore under Christian obligations” (Beet).

καὶ Ἀρχίππῳ. Evidently standing in some special relation to both Onesimus and Philemon, probably the son of the latter. Whether he lived at Colossae and had spiritual work either in that town or in Laodicea (see Colossians 4:17, note), or resided ordinarily at Laodicea, would make little difference in a personal question of the kind before us. There is little probability in the suggestion that he was only the leader of the body of Christians that met at Philemon’s house and that this gave him such a position there that St Paul would think it well to include his name; cf. Theodoret, ὁ δὲΑρχιππος τὴν διδασκαλίαν αὐτῶν ἐπεπίστευτο. Chrysostom thinks him a friend and also a clergyman, but does not definitely connect his clerical office with Philemon’s household.

τῷ συνστρατιώτῃ ἡμῶν, “our fellow-soldier.” So of Epaphroditus, Philippians 2:25†; cf. 2 Timothy 2:3.

Observe that Philemon shares the title of συνεργός with Epaphroditus, but Archippus that of συνστρατ. Perhaps the work of the latter as the younger man was more aggressive. That it was also more official is implied in Colossians 4:17.

καὶ τῇ κατʼ οἶκόν σου ἐκκλησίᾳ, Colossians 4:15, note. Observe [1] the Christians in Colossae did not necessarily, and probably did not in fact, all meet for worship at one house. For it is improbable that they would have found any one room sufficiently large. [2] The apostle when writing to the Colossian Church as a whole commended indeed Onesimus to them (Colossians 4:9) but did not touch upon the peculiar circumstances of the case. [3] Yet seeing that some of them met for worship in Philemon’s house he includes these in his salutation, partly, we may suppose, in order to enlist their sympathy with his request, and, still more, because it was in that congregation that Onesimus would have to be recognised as a Christian. Further, some at least of the worshippers there would be his fellow-servants, with whom he must be properly reinstated.

σοῦ is of course employed because the house belonged to Philemon. It is hard to see why it is a stumbling-block to van Manen (Encycl. Bibl. col. 3695).


Verse 3

3. χάρις κ.τ.λ. See notes on Colossians 1:2.


Verse 4

4. εὐχαριστῶ. There is no more reference to Timothy, for it was a personal request that St Paul was about to make. Contrast the plural in Colossians 1:3.

τῷ θεῷ μου. So Romans 1:8; Philippians 1:3. Philemon’s spiritual condition is new evidence of God’s love towards St Paul.

πάντοτε, with εὐχαριστῶ, cf. Colossians 1:3, note. “I give thanks always, namely when I make mention, etc.”

μνείαν σου ποιούμενος, “making mention of thee.” μνείαν ποιεῖσθαι occurs three times in the LXX., and in both its possible meanings (a) to remember, Job 14:13, and probably Isaiah 32:10; (b) to cause remembrance, to make mention of, Psalms 111[110]:4, where it is a very literal translation of the Hebrew zeker ‘asah. For the classics references are given by Lidd. and Scott to the second meaning only, and this is found also certainly in one of the two letters of the 2nd century A.D. from papyri quoted by J. A. R. (Ephesians, pp. 276, 279), and probably in the other. One runs πρὸ μὲν πάντων εὔχομαί σε ὑγιαίνειν, καὶ ʼγὼ γὰρ αὐτὸς ὑγιαίνω, μνίαν σου ποιούμενος παρὰ τοῖς ἐνθάδε θεοῖς (Berl. Pap. 63212), the other καὶ αὐτὴ δʼ ὑγίαινον καὶ τὸ παιδίον καὶ οἱ ἐν οἴκῳ πάντες, σοῦ διαπαντὸς μνείαν ποιούμενοι. See also his quotation from Athenaeus on p. 280. St Paul uses the phrase three times elsewhere, viz. Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:2, almost certainly in the second sense, for (a) he employs ἔχειν μνείαν to signify “remember,” 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Timothy 1:3; cf. Philippians 1:3; (b) in 1 Thessalonians 1:2 he adds μνημονεύοντες, “remembering.” The force of the middle appears to be intensive; see Colossians 4:1, note.

ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου, “at my prayers.” St Paul always uses this phrase with μνεῖαν ποιεῖσθαι.


Verses 4-7

4–7. Introductory thanksgiving for Philemon’s faith and kindness to the saints

Apart from the Christian courtesy, and the tact under the circumstances, of such an introduction, St Paul here, as always, felt that be must first make reference to God, thanking Him for His grace towards Philemon. Cf. the opening clauses in the Lord’s Prayer. Something similar however may be seen in the many quotations from the papyri given by P. Ewald in loco, p. 270, e.g. πρὸ πάντων (παντὸς) εὔχομαί σε ὑγιαίνειν καὶ τὸ προσκύνημά σου ποιῶ παρὰ τῷ κυρίῳ Σαράπιδι.


Verse 5

5. ἀκούων, “hearing (as I do).” To be connected with εὐχαριστῶ; cf. Philemon 1:7, where again the love shown by Philemon is the cause of the apostle’s joy. The present points to the continued information that the apostle has received, presumably through Epaphras (Colossians 1:7-8). That which Onesimus brought was hardly recent, and could only have represented the impressions of an outsider. Contrast the aorist ἀκούσαντες in Colossians 1:4, where the reference is primarily to the good news of the conversion of the Colossians, and ἀκούσας in Ephesians 1:15.

P. Ewald (p. 272 note) thinks the whole verse may be a postscript by the apostle, added perhaps between the lines of the original, as sometimes in the papyri. A copyist could hardly do otherwise than insert it in the text in the usual way.

σου τὴν ἀγάπην. ἀγ. here before πίστις (contrast Colossians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:3), perhaps because St Paul is about to appeal to Philemon’s love.

καὶ τὴν πίστιν ἥν ἔχεις εἰς τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν καὶ εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους. See notes on Textual Criticism. This ambiguous sentence has been understood in various ways. It will be observed that the difficulty lies in the questions of the true antecedent of ην and of the meaning of πίστις.

(a) τὴν πίστιν may be still under the government of σοῦ (thus in effect placing a comma after πίστιν), and ἥν refers to both ἀγάπην and πίστιν, being in concord with the nearest substantive. In this case the two following clauses, by Chiasmus, refer cross-wise—faith towards the Lord Jesus, love towards all the saints. So Theodoret, Bengel, Lightfoot. The chief objection is that the ordinary reader would almost certainly have run on from πίστιν to ἥν (as in b and c) and only have discovered his mistake when near the end of the verse. If this interpretation is right, we may conjecture that its ambiguity became evident to either St Paul or the amanuensis of Colossians 1:4, and that it was altered on purpose to the clear expression there.

(b) τὴν πίστιν may be entirely separate from σοῦ, and ἥν refers to it alone. In this case faith is exerted towards both the Lord Jesus and all the saints. The force of the last clause would appear to lie in the value of trust on the part of Christian workers, particularly those who work among Jews or heathen, towards converts. The imperfections of these are often so manifest that it is only by faith, faith in Christ’s work upon them (i.e. faith in them as believers), that older Christians are led to show them such kindnesses as are here implied. The objection to this is that πίστις in the sense of “trust,” “confidence,” nowhere else has man for its object, except in the doubtful passage Ephesians 1:15, on which however see J. A. R. Eph. pp. 295 sq.

(c) With the same construction as in (b) to πίστιν may be given the meaning of faithfulness (e.g. Galatians 5:22). The very serious objection is that nowhere has πίστις this meaning when followed by a phrase like εἰς τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν.

(d) P. Ewald (see especially Eph. p. 94) would give to πίστις here and Ephesians 1:15 both its possible meanings, viz. faith on the Lord Jesus and faithfulness to all the saints (Glaube und Treue).

On the whole (a) is the most probable interpretation.

εἰς τὸν κύρ. See notes on Textual Criticism. πρὸς is found so much more rarely with πίστις, πιστεύω, apparently only in 1 Thessalonians 1:8 (cf. with πεποίθησις, 2 Corinthians 3:4), that if internal evidence alone be considered it is probably genuine here. “Of the two prepositions the former (προς) signifies direction ‘forward to,’ ‘towards’; the latter (ἐνς) arrival and so contact ‘in-to,’ ‘unto.’ … Where a distinction is necessary there is a propriety in using πρός of the faith which aspires towards Christ, and εἰς of the love which is exerted upon men” (Lightfoot). In any case the difference of prepositions would tend to give some indication of the fact (apparently) that the first clause refers to πίστις and the second to ἀγάπη.

πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους, Colossians 1:2; Colossians 1:4, notes.


Verse 6

6. The key to the interpretation of this verse lies in the fact that in each of the other three epistles of the First Roman Captivity (Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:9-10; cf. Colossians 2:2; Ephesians 1:17) St Paul’s prayer for his correspondents culminates in this word ἐπίγνωσις. Hence by the analogy of those epistles, two of which were written almost at the same moment as this, we should expect to find here an expression of St Paul’s hope that Philemon (not those on whom Philemon had influence) would advance in the ἐπίγνωσις of divine things.

It will conduce to clearness if we first interpret the verse positively upon this basis, and reserve to the end of it all notice of other methods of exegesis.

ὅπως. To be connected with the whole clause μνείαν σου ποιούμενος ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου, but not as representing the contents of the prayer, for which there is no parallel in St Paul (contrast ἵνα, Colossians 1:9, note), though examples may probably be seen in Matthew 8:34; Matthew 9:38; Luke 7:3 al. It states the aim and result, as in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12. To connect it with ἦν ἕχεις, even with the connotation of God’s providence overruling all (cf. Haupt), gives undue prominence to what is probably a subordinate clause (ἣνἁγίους).

ἡ κοινωνία τῆς πίστεώς σου. Probably ἡ κοινωνία is here absolute, and means the spirit of fellowship and communion, almost our “brotherliness.” So Galatians 2:9, and probably 2 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 13:13 (“the true sense of membership which the One Spirit gives to the One Body,” J. A. R. in Hastings’ D. B. I. 460). Thus τῆς πίστεως is the subjective genitive. It produces brotherliness, which is shown in the way described in the preceding verse. This is exercised towards all the saints as they need it. Observe that we must not exclude even St Paul, and indeed he himself appears to allude to the κοινωνία felt by Philemon in Philemon 1:17 (see there).

Although in every other case in the N.T. the genitive of the thing is objective (“partnership in thy faith,” cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16; Philippians 2:1) this is impossible here if ἐπίγνωσις refers to Philemon.

ἐνεργὴς γένηται, “may become effective.” ἐνεργός (of which -ης is said to be a later form) is used of land productive as contrasted with ἀργός (Xen. Cyr. 3. 2. 19); cf. 2 Peter 1:8. On the verb see Colossians 1:29, note. The adj. occurs elsewhere in the N.T. only in 1 Corinthians 16:9; Hebrews 4:12. The aim of St Paul’s prayer is that the brotherliness which Philemon feels and shows (in itself the result of his faith) may not rest content but prove itself effective in producing ἐπίγνωσις.

ἐπιγνώσει, Colossians 1:9, note.

παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ. Certainly neuter. The full knowledge of every good thing that in reality is in the present possession of the Christian presupposes an extraordinary advance in his spiritual life. There may be a special reference to that principle of brotherhood in Christ which indicates to Philemon the true attitude towards Onesimus.

[τοῦ]. See notes on Textual Criticism. If τοῦ is omitted the construction is very harsh. For then there seems to be no exact parallel for the clause meaning “every good thing that is in us” (even 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1 are not quite the same, for ἐκκλησία there has already been defined). Would its omission suggest that “every good thing” does not properly belong to us, but only comes into being in the course of our Christian life?

ἐν ἡμῖν. See notes on Textual Criticism. Of Christians generally.

εἰς Χριστόν. The final aim and object of all. The phrase is probably not to be rigidly confined to ἐνεργὴς γένηται, but is to be understood of each part of the last clause. Both the activity in knowledge, and the presence of every good thing in us, is “unto Christ”; cf. Colossians 1:16.

Other interpretations of this verse are many, and it would perhaps be hard to find two commentators who wholly agree in their exposition of it. The principal divergence from that which is given above is due to the failure to perceive that the ἐπίγνωσις is Philemon’s. Hence the verse is understood to mean (a) “that the partaking of others in thy faith (thanks to thy love, etc.) may produce in them full knowledge,” etc. With this is sometimes combined the reading ὑμῖν suggesting the possibilities that there are for the Christians in Philemon’s town, (b) Similar to (a) with the alteration of “faith” to “fidelity.” (c) Similar to (a) but making Philemon 1:6 dependent on ἣν ἔχεις and seeing in it the overruling providence of God. (d) Chrysostom indeed sees that the ἐπίγνωσις is Philemon’s but understands the κοινωνία to be that of Philemon’s faith with his own (cf. Philemon 1:17), καὶ οὐκ εἶπεν, ἡ πίστις σου, ἀλλʼ, ἡ κοινωνία τῆς πίστεώς σου, συνάπτων αὐτὸν ἑαυτῷ. But the context does not suggest this limitation of the sphere of κοινωνία.


Verse 7

7. χαρὰν γὰρ. See notes on Textual Criticism. γάρ states the reason for Philemon 1:4-6, viz. his thanksgiving, prayer, and expectation of Philemon’s progress.

πολλὴν. The sense is carried on to παράκλησιν.

ἔσχον. See notes on Textual Criticism. In ἀκούων (Philemon 1:5) he represents the news as still continuing, contemporary with εὐχαριστῶ; here as all past, in order to emphasize the immediate effect that it had upon him.

καὶ παράκλησιν, “and encouragement”; cf. 2 Corinthians 7:4. For the verb cf. Colossians 2:2; Colossians 4:8. As a prisoner (Philemon 1:1; Philemon 1:9) he needed παράκλησις. Compare παρηγορία, Colossians 4:11.

ἐπὶ τῇ ἀγάπῃ σου. St Paul was trusting to this to obtain his request for Onesimus.

τὰ σπλάγχνα, Philemon 1:12; Philemon 1:20, and Colossians 3:12, note.

τῶν ἁγίων. Not necessarily those immediately benefited by Philemon. Perhaps even all Christians who heard of him.

ἀναπέπαυται., Philemon 1:20 probably has the same relation to this word as Philemon 1:17 to κοινωνία, Philemon 1:6. Elsewhere in St Paul only 1 Corinthians 16:18; 2 Corinthians 7:13. It connotes not mere rest from toil (much less permanent cessation from work, παύω) but refreshment, rest issuing in fresh energy. Thus it is fittingly used of the rest of soldiers on the march (Xen. Cyr. 2. 4. 3, cf. 6. 1. 11). Lightfoot quotes Plut. Vit. Lucull. 5, πολλῶν αὖθις ἀνακινούντων τὸν ΄ιθριδατικὸν πόλεμον ἔφη ΄άρκος αὐτὸν οὐ πεπαῦσθαι ἀλλʼ ἀναπεπαῦσθαι.

διὰ σοῦ. “He was the agent for his Lord” (Moule).

ἀδελφέ. Emphatic. A note of St Paul’s affection rather than of Philemon’s faith, see Galatians 6:18; cf. Philemon 1:20.


Verse 8

8. Διό. An application of the preceding statement (Philemon 1:4-7), particularly of that of the effect produced by Philemon’s love. Probably expanded by διὰ τὴν ἀγάπην, and in any case to be taken closely with παρακαλῶ.

πολλὴν ἐν Χριστῷ παρρησίαν ἔχων, i.e. though having, he will not use it. On παρρησία see Colossians 2:15, note. Here it means freedom of speech towards Philemon based on the consciousness of right. Similarly, as it seems, in 1 Timothy 3:13 (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:4). He could speak strongly if he chose, and if he were to do so no fault could be found with him. For it would be no matter of personal feeling. He possesses this freedom of speech “in Christ.” He speaks as Christian to Christian. Whether he is thinking of his apostolic position in this phrase is very doubtful.

ἐπιτάσσειν σοι, “to charge thee.” He is thinking of his commission (Acts 26:16 sqq.; Galatians 1:1).

τὸ ἀνῆκον., Colossians 3:18, note. French convenable (Moule), i.e. for thee to do what I ask.


Verses 8-20

8–20. The Request


Verse 9

9. διὰ τὴν ἀγάπην. Probably Philemon’s. After expressly saying σοῦ τὴν ἀγάπην (Philemon 1:5) and ἐπὶ τῇ ἀγάπῃ σου (Philemon 1:7) it was not necessary for St Paul to repeat the personal pronoun once more. The love that Philemon has shown warrants St Paul in not commanding but in making request. Other interpretations are (a) St Paul’s love; (b) “our love,” i.e. the reciprocal love of St Paul and Philemon; (c) “love” absolutely, “Christian love in abstracto, conceived of as a power, 1 Corinthians 13.” (Meyer).

μᾶλλον, Philemon 1:16, i.e. rather than command; cf. 1 Timothy 6:2.

παρακαλῶ, “appeal.” Hardly absolute here because it is taken up again in Philemon 1:10, παρακαλῶ σε. It is used of appealing to God in 2 Corinthians 12:8, and in the Gospels of appeals made to the Lord Jesus for help, Matthew 8:5; Matthew 14:36 al. In Philippians 4:2 St Paul probably rather “appeals to” than “exhorts” the two ladies.

τοιοῦτος ὤν ὡς. The regular correlatives of τοιοῦτος are οἷος (2 Corinthians 10:11 al.), ὁποῖος (Acts 26:29†), ὅστις (1 Corinthians 5:1†), and, as it seems, ὡς is never undoubtedly employed as its correlative, though ὥσπερ is found, e.g. Alexis (Meineke, Fragm. Com. III. p. 399), τοιοῦτο τὸ ζῆν ἐστιν ὥσπερ οἱ κύβοι (quoted in Lightfoot). Hence Meyer and many others join τοιοῦτος ὤν to the preceding clause, and ὡς Παῦλος κ.τ.λ. closely to Philemon 1:10, παρακαλῶ σε.

But besides the ensuing strangeness of τοιοῦτος ὤν (for such an ending to a clause can hardly be Pauline) this separation is not really necessary, τοιοῦτος has summed up the description of him (cf. οἱ τοιοῦτος, 2 Corinthians 10:11) and ὡς ratifies it; “being such a man as may be described by the terms Παῦλος πρεσβ.” So in the passage of Alexis, “Life may be described as a game of dice.” “All the Greek commentators without a single exception connect the words τοιοῦτος ὤν ὡς Παῦλος together” (Lightfoot).

On the question whether the phrase τοιοῦτος ὤν ὡς κ.τ.λ. adds an argument in the appeal (παρακαλῶ, Philemon 1:9-10) or supplements παρρησίαν ἔχων κ.τ.λ. (Philemon 1:8), see below.

πρεσβύτης. There is, as it seems, no various reading in this passage, but Lightfoot has shown by abundant evidence that the words πρεσβύτης (old man), πρεσβευτής (ambassador) were often confused by copyists, e.g. 1 Maccabees 14:22, where for πρεσβευταὶ Ἰουδαίων the Sinaitic and Venetus read πρεσβύται. Hence it is possible that St Paul or his amanuensis (if he employed one for this letter) originally wrote πρεσβυτης (sic), intending it to have the meaning of πρεσβευτής, or, preferably, that πρεσβευτής was the original and was altered by a very early copyist to πρεσβύτης (cf. W.H. Appendix).

In itself either meaning gives excellent sense.

[1] In favour of “Paul (the) old man” (Luke 1:18; Titus 2:2†; cf. Titus 2:3) is the important fact that, with the possible exception of Theophylact in the eleventh century τοιοῦτος ὤν, φησι, πρεσβευτής, καὶ οὔτως ἄξιος ἀκούεσθαι (in Lightfoot), all writers accepted this rendering, until (as it seems) Bentley. So Chrysostom continues the words quoted in the last note ἀπὸ τῆς ἡλικίς, ὅτι πρεσβύτης. If this be right the sentence τοιοῦτοςἸησοῦ must almost certainly be taken with παρακαλῶ, “I appeal to you, and remember that I am old and also a prisoner”; or possibly “I appeal, for it is not so fitting for an old man and a prisoner to command.”

[2] But it must be confessed that “ambassador” makes a far stronger sentence. The words τοιοῦτοςἸησοῦ then go closely with παρρ. ἔχων ἐπιτάσσειν, expanding the thought of his power to command. He is an ambassador (probably “Christ’s ambassador” (see below)), even though in bonds (for the thought cf. the contemporary Ephesians 6:20), and yet he does not use his power. Observe however that, after all, this strengthens his appeal and therefore is rightly placed by St Paul after παρακαλῶ.

νυνὶ δὲ, “but as the case stands now,” νυνί (not νῦν). Its argumentative force (Colossians 1:21 note) is felt more if “ambassador” be right.

καὶ δέσμιος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, Philemon 1:1, notes. Χρ. Ἰησ. is probably to be joined also with πρεσβύτης if this has the meaning of “ambassador.”


Verse 10

10. παρακαλῶ σε. The appeal is enhanced by the repetition of the verb.

περὶ τοῦ ἐμοῦ τέκνου, “about my own child.” Stronger than τοῦ τέκνου μου, cf. Philemon 1:12; Philemon 1:19, Colossians 4:18, and esp. 3 John 1:4. So St Paul calls Timothy his τέκνον (1 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 2:22; 1 Timothy 1:2 al.), and also Titus (Titus 1:4).

ἐγέννησα. So in 1 Corinthians 4:14-15. But in Galatians 4:19 he speaks as though he were the mother, in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 as though the nurse, of his converts. For his metaphor here cf. Talm. Bab. Sanhedrin 19b “R. Samuel son of Nachmani reported that B. Jonathan said, Everyone that teacheth his neighbour’s son Torah, the Scripture reckons it to him as though he begat him, for it is said, Now these are the generations of Aaron and Moses (Numbers 3:1), and it is written, Now these are the names of the sons of Aaron (Numbers 3:2), meaning that Aaron begat them and Moses taught them; therefore they were called by his name.”

ἐν τοῖς δεσμοῖς. Probably suggesting that he was the more dear to him as born to him at such a time. Observe that “for the third time Philemon is made to hear the clanking of the prisoner’s chain” (Beet).

Ὀνήσιμον, Colossians 4:9†. At last he brings out the name which he knew would not recall to Philemon pleasant associations. On the importance attributed to names by the ancients see Lightfoot. St Paul plays upon the name in Philemon 1:11; Philemon 1:20.


Verse 11

11. τόν ποτέ σοι ἄχρηστον, “who once was useless to thee.” ἄχρηστος here only in N.T. occurs a few times in LXX., but in no instance illustrating our passage. In Matthew 25:30; Luke 17:10 ἀχρεῖος is used of worthless slaves. According to Tittmann quoted by Trench Synon. § c. 17 ἀχρεῖος is the more negative word of the two, ἅχρηστος suggesting positive hurtfulness. All the modern commentators quote Plato Resp. III. p. 411A χρήσιμον ἐξ ἀχρήστουἐποίησεν.

νυνὶ δὲ σοὶ καὶ ἑμοὶ εὔχρηστον. Onesimus “erit nomini suo respondens servus utilis” (Wetstein), and will presumably act in accordance with Colossians 3:22 sqq. It is curious that the Greek commentators do not notice the play on the name. P. Ewald indeed doubts it here, saying that St Paul might have employed more closely related terms such as ἀνόνητος and ὀνητός. For εὔχρηστος see 2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Timothy 4:11† and in LXX. Proverbs 31:13 [31]; Wisdom of Solomon 13:13†.

καὶ ἐμοί is, as Lightfoot points out, strictly an afterthought (cf. Philippians 2:27) and therefore (contrary to Greek usage) the second person precedes. Observe that as his usefulness to Philemon must lie in the same range as the uselessness, i.e. in material service, so also presumably his usefulness to St Paul. The latter, that is to say, is not thinking of Onesimus’ conversion representing the gain and recompense of his labour (cf. Philippians 1:22; Philippians 2:16), but of the practical assistance that Onesimus was to him in the things of daily life. The words thus serve to introduce the thought of Philemon 1:13.


Verse 12

12. ὅν ἀνέπεμψα, “whom I send on,” as stated in Colossians 4:9.

Epistolary aorist, cf. ἔγραψα, Philemon 1:19; Philemon 1:21, ἔπεμψα, Colossians 4:8. The force of ἀνα is probably “on” to a higher or more proper quarter, Acts 25:21; Luke 23:7, cf. Deissmann Bible Studies p. 229, but perhaps it means “back,” Luke 23:11; Luke 23:15.

σοι. See notes on Textual Criticism.

αὐτόν. Hardly a “Hebraism” with ὅν, for this construction nowhere occurs in St Paul’s writings. Even Galatians 2:10 is so only in appearance. It was probably added for emphasis (cf. the threefold αὐτός in John 9:21). Its object is to bring Onesimus vividly before the reader, and thus prepare the way for the strong contrast τοῦτʼ ἔστιν τὰ ἐμὰ σπλάγχνα.

Lightfoot somewhat strangely places a full stop at σοί, and makes αὐτὸν a suspended accusative governed ultimately by προσλαβοῦ in Philemon 1:17. Meyer had already done so, but his adoption of the false reading σὺ δέ left him no choice.

τοῦτʼ ἔστιν (Romans 7:18; Romans 10:8) τὰ ἐμὰ σπλάγχνα, “that is, my very heartstrings.” Pesh., Theodoret, and perhaps even Chrysostom, understand σπλάγχνα as equivalent to τέκνον (Philemon 1:10). For such a use of σπλάγχνα and viscera see many quotations in Wetstein. But not only is this tautological after Philemon 1:10, but the frequent use by St Paul of σπλάγχνα to express emotion (Philemon 1:7; Philemon 1:20; Colossians 3:12) makes it extremely improbable.

On προσλαβοῦ in the Text. Rec., see notes on Textual Criticism.


Verse 13

13. ὅν ἐγὼ, emphatic, cf. Philemon 1:19-20.

ἐβουλόμην, “was minded,” cf. 2 Corinthians 1:15. Apparently βούλομαι expresses greater deliberation and less emotion than θέλω, but in St Paul the feeling of love to Philemon conquered. The imperfect is of durative and here completed action; the aor. (Philemon 1:14) of punctiliar and here completed action.

πρὸς ἐμαυτόν, apud, cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:5.

κατέχειν, “detain,” Luke 4:42.

ἵνα ὑπὲρ σοῦ, cf. Colossians 1:7. “In thy behalf”; cf. Chrysostom Εὗρες ὅπως ἀποδῷς τὴν πρὸς ἐμὲ λειτουργίαν διʼ αὐτοῦ. While however this is in itself the most probable interpretation of ὑπέρ, and agrees most closely with St Paul’s distinction of ἀντὶ and ὑπέρ, it is possible that he uses ὑπέρ here in the same sense that occurs in the papyri ἔγραψεν ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ N N διὰ τὸ μὴ εἰδέναι αὐτὸν τὰ γράμματα, where writing on behalf of so and so is very nearly equal to writing in his stead (see P. Ewald).

ἐν τοῖς δεσμοῖς (Philemon 1:10, note).

St Paul could not say precisely “in prison,” for he was still apparently in his hired lodging (Acts 28:30), but Onesimus’ ministry had to be exercised in a condition of things represented by bonds (cf. Acts 28:16), therefore the more trying to both agent and recipient.

τοῦ εὐαγγελίου. Probably genitive of cause, cf. note on Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, Philemon 1:1. Yet the very mention of “gospel” must have cheered St Paul, and Lightfoot fittingly compares St Ignatius’ references to his bonds, e.g. Ephes. § 11, ἐν ᾧ (i.e. Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ) τὰ δεσμᾶ περιφέρω, τοὺς πνευματικοὺς μαργαρἰτας.


Verse 14

14. Χωρὶς δὲ τῆς σῆς γνώμης. “But apart from (Romans 10:14) thy judgment.” For γνώμη see esp. 1 Corinthians 1:10 with Lightfoot’s note there. σῆς (not τῆς γνώμης σου) for emphasis.

ἵνα μὴ ὡς κατὰ ἀνάγκην. For κατὰ ἀνάγκην† cf. 2 Maccabees 15:2 τῶν δὲ κατὰ ἀνάγκην συνεπομένων αὐτῷ Ἰουδαίων. Cf. ἐξ ἀνάγκης, 2 Corinthians 9:7; Hebrews 7:12†. ὡς that there might not be even an appearance of constraint.

τὸ ἀγαθόν σου ᾗ. (a) The usual meaning of ἀγαθόν is passive, an advantage or blessing received, cf. Philemon 1:6. So also even Romans 14:6, where it = the blessing of Christian liberty. But here it would hardly be gracious of St Paul to refer again to ὑπὲρ σοῦ (Philemon 1:13) and speak of the advantage that Philemon would have received through Onesimus. (b) Hence we must attribute to it an active sense, either (α) specifically, thy kind action in this case, or, and more probably, (β) generally “thy kindness.” It thus approaches the meaning of ἀγαθωσύνη, but perhaps is more abstract.

The exact direction in which the kindness is here supposed to be shown has been disputed. [1] Philemon 1:15 suggests that it is his kindness towards Onesimus. For had St Paul retained him Philemon would have been compelled to recognise his Christian membership. Whereas now that he is returning to Colossae Philemon will be free to do as he likes. [2] But probably the thought of Philemon 1:13 is continued, and St Paul means that he did not wish to compel Philemon to show to himself the kindness of ministry by means of Onesimus. Could St Paul have retained Onesimus’ services without this apparent constraint on Philemon he might indeed have done so. But he would not under the circumstances.

ἀλλὰ κατὰ ἑκούσιον†. Probably, “but as a freewill offering.”

So Numbers 15:3μεγαλῦναι εὐχὴν ἢ καθʼ ἑκούσιον “to accomplish a vow, or as a freewill offering.” Similarly a Greek translator has for the same phrase (benedabah) εἰς ἑκούσιον in Leviticus 22:21, and ἑκούσιον for “freewill offering” alone (nedabah) in Philemon 1:23. In Leviticus 7:6 [16], Leviticus 23:38; Numbers 29:39, the LXX. (cf. also Deuteronomy 12:6 A), and in Deuteronomy 23:24 [23] Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, translate nedabah sing. or plur. by ἑκούσιον, ἑκούσια (cf. Ezekiel 46:12). No example seems to be forthcoming of its use merely in the sense of “willingly,” though we find καθʼ ἑκούσιον τρόπον (Porphyr. De Abst. I. 9) and καθʼ ἑκουσίαν (sc. γνώμην, Thuc. VIII. 27). Compare also ἑκουσίως, 1 Peter 5:2; Hebrews 10:26†.


Verse 15

15. τάχα γὰρ. γὰρ states another reason for St Paul not retaining Onesimus, viz. that God in permitting his flight may have had Philemon’s own interests in view, τάχα (Romans 5:7†) shows that this is merely a suggestion. He could not pretend to see clearly into God’s counsels.

διὰ τοῦτο. Defined by the following ἵνα, 2 Corinthians 13:10; 1 Timothy 1:16.

ἐχωρίσθη, prob. “he departed.”

Chrysostom may be right in dwelling on the passive form and seeing in it the statement that Onesimus “was parted” from Philemon by the all-wise providence of God, and in comparing Joseph’s words (Genesis 45:5) “God did send me,” but as there is no passage in the N.T. where χωρίζομαι certainly has a passive sense, and some where it indubitably only = depart (Acts 1:4; Acts 18:1-2), it is safer to understand it so here. In any case notice St Paul’s tact in avoiding a word which would immediately suggest “flight,” or lay stress on Onesimus’ self-determination in leaving Philemon; εὐφήμως δὲ καὶ τὴν φυγὴν χωρισμὸν καλεῖ, ἵνα μὴ τῷ ὀνόματι τῆς φυγῆς παροξύνῃ τὸν δεσπότην (Theoph.).

ἵνα αἰώνιον αὐτὸν. αἰώνιος predicating a person only here, where however its properly adverbial meaning has only taken the adjectival form. Compare the use of the Latin frequens. Bengel says aeternum in hâc vitâ, Exodus 21:6, et in coelo, rightly feeling that the incident of the slave when his ear is bored belonging to his master “for ever” does not exhaust the connotation of the αἰώνιος to St Paul. To him it suggested eternal relationship, as he explains in Philemon 1:16.

ἀπέχῃς. Wherever else in the N.T. ἀπέχω governs an accusative it = “have to the full,” Matthew 6:2; Matthew 6:5; Matthew 6:16; Luke 6:24; Philippians 4:18†. And so probably here with the durative present (cf. Moulton op. cit. p. 110), that you may hold him for ever in full possession.


Verse 16

16. οὐκέτι. Not μηκέτι as though it would depend on the reception of him by Philemon. “The ‘no more as a slave’ is an absolute fact, whether Philemon chooses to recognise it or not” (Lightfoot).

ὡς. δοῦλος Onesimus is and will remain, but not ὡς δοῦλος.

δοῦλον. He has kept the word back till he has been able to put οὐκέτι ὡς before it, and until he has hinted that Onesimus and Philemon have entered into everlasting relations.

ἀλλὰ ὑπὲρ δοῦλον, “but beyond a slave.” Cf. Philemon 1:21, Matthew 10:24 bis, 37 bis. For the thought, but from the point of view of the slave, see 1 Timothy 6:2.

ἀδελφὸν ἀγαπητόν. See Colossians 4:7, note. The additional πιστός of Colossians 4:9 has been already implied in our epistle (e.g. Philemon 1:11).

μάλιστα ἐμοί. Doubtless referring to the compound thought “a brother beloved.” Many commentators have remarked on the oxymoron of μάλισταπόσῳ δὲ μᾶλλον, with which ἐλαχιστότερος (Ephesians 3:8) might be compared. But it is hypercriticism to insist that μάλιστα must have its full exclusive force. In all languages superlatives become weak. Here it is no more than “especially,” or even “very greatly,” cf. Acts 26:3.

πόσῳ δὲ μᾶλλον σοὶ. πόσ. μᾶλ. elsewhere in St Paul’s writings only Romans 11:12; Romans 11:24.

καὶ ἐν σαρκὶ. Of earthly as contrasted with spiritual relations (ἐν κυρίῳ), cf. Colossians 3:22.

καὶ ἐν κυρίῳ., Philemon 1:20, see Colossians 3:18; Colossians 3:20; Colossians 4:7; Colossians 4:17.


Verse 17

17. εἰ οὗν. οὗν sums up the preceding argument fr. Philemon 1:10-16 and embodies it in the following direct request.

με, the emphasis is not on this but on κοινωνόν.

ἔχεις. Probably = hold, reckon, cf. Matthew 14:5.

κοινωνόν, “partner.” Not to be weakened (with Chrysostom) to mean little more than φίλον. Probably even “comrade” and “associate” are too weak here, for κοινωνός implies more or less formal partnership. In Luke 5:10 it has probably its strictest meaning, and the business terms in the two following verses are quite in accordance with this meaning here. But of course the partnership between Philemon and St Paul was in spiritual matters, i.e. the Gospel, with all that it means of both blessings and duties. Similarly of St Paul and Titus, 2 Corinthians 8:23.

προσλαβοῦ. Elsewhere in St Paul’s Epp. only Romans 14:1; Romans 14:3; Romans 15:7 bis. It implies receiving into full fellowship, as God received us. It would be a fitting term, one would suppose, to be used of a firm admitting a fresh partner, but the actual usage is more general; see esp. Acts 18:26; Acts 28:2; 2 Maccabees 8:1.

αὐτὸν ὡς ἐμέ, cf. Philemon 1:12.


Verse 18

18. εἰ δέ τι. The δέ states an objection which Philemon might raise against the reception of Onesimus. The hypothetical term is probably due to a desire to avoid all irritation, “Attic politeness” (Mey.), St Paul knowing from Onesimus’ confession that such was really the case. Possibly however St Paul was in some doubt as to the fact, owing to the matter presenting itself to Philemon and to Onesimus in different aspects.

ἠδίκησέν σε, “did thee an injury.”

See Colossians 3:25 for the use of ἀδικεῖν in reference (probably) to a slave. Though a general word in itself it must here refer to money, for otherwise St Paul could not pay it back (Philemon 1:19). For a similar connotation see (probably) 1 Corinthians 6:8. The aor. marks only the time when Onesimus committed the act, and does not say whether this was when he was still with Philemon or when he went away.

ἢ ὀφείλει. Not merely epexegetic of ἡδίκησέν σε and indicating the present result of that act, but wider. He may have “injured” Philemon by directly robbing him, he may be “owing” him something partly by that and partly by not having repaid moneys expended on him. Hence rather than καί.

τοῦτο ἐμοὶ ἐλλόγα, “reckon this to me.” “Hesychius ἐλλόγει, καταλόγησαι” (Beng.); almost “ledger it.” Onesimus would have long since spent anything he took. For the form see Romans 5:13†. Exx. of ἐλλογεῖν (text Rec. here and Rom.) on monuments are given in Lightfoot. See also Blass Gram. § 22, 2, for other cases of confusion between verbs in -έω and in -άω.


Verse 19

19. ἐγὼ Παῦλος. For these two words see Colossians 1:23, note.

It is very precarious to argue that this verse makes it probable that the whole Epistle was written by St Paul himself, for although the position of the autograph is certainly unique (cf. Colossians 4:18 and note), yet he would hardly have said τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί so emphatically in reference to repaying if in fact the whole epistle had been written by him. It is at least as likely that he took up the pen for a minute and wrote this verse only.

ἔγραψα. Epistolary, Philemon 1:21. Cf. also ἀνέπεμψα, Philemon 1:12.

“The aorist is the tense commonly used in signatures; e.g. ὑπέγραψα to the conciliar decrees” (Lightfoot).

τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί, ἐλὼ. The repetition of the ἐγὼ is very fine, both in argument and in proof of love.

ἀποτίσω. Here only in the N.T. but often in LXX. For the meaning “pay back,” as doubtless here, see Exodus 21:19; Exodus 21:34; 2 Samuel 12:6; Psalms 36[37]:21.

If it be asked whence St Paul would pay back the debt, the answer may lie either in his having some property of his own (cf. Ramsay on his imprisonment at Caesarea St Paul the Traveller, c. XIII.), or in the gifts of the Philippian Christians (Philippians 4:10-18), or in the possibility of his asking friends to help him.

ἵνα μὴ λέγω σοι ὅτι κ.τ.λ., “not to say to thee that.” The figure of speech known as paraleipsis or praeteritio, in which the speaker pretends to pass over something which in reality he mentions (see Blass Gram. § 82. 9), cf. 2 Corinthians 9:4.

A perversely ingenious interpretation takes ἐγὼ Παῦλοςἀποτίσω as a parenthesis, and contrasts σοί with ἐμοὶ ἐλλόγα. “Put it down to me … not to say thee (as I might fairly say, i.e. to work off part of the debt to me), because” thou owest me much more. But St Paul would surely not have wrecked his sentence by putting his autograph between the two contrasted words.

καὶ σεαυτόν μοι προσοφείλεις. προσοφείλειν here only in Biblical Greek. Thou owest me already as much as Onesimus’ debt, and in addition even thyself. For through St Paul’s means (evidently) he had passed out of the state of spiritual death into full existence, and full ownership of himself.


Verse 20

20. ναί. In Philippians 4:3 it similarly “introduces an affectionate appeal.” Possibly it = “yes, you owe so much.” But far better as accepting the situation (Matthew 11:26) that he has proposed. It thus = “yes, I am sure that you will welcome Onesimus back, freely and without payment from me.”

ἀδελφέ, Philemon 1:7. “It is the entreaty of a brother to a brother on behalf of a brother” (Lightfoot).

ἐγώ σου ὀναίμην. ἐλώ is emphatic. Thou wast once profited by me, now may I get profit from thee by thy treatment of Onesimus. ὀνίνημι here only in the N.T. and in the LXX. of the Hebrew canonical books. But twice in the Apocrypha, viz. Tobit 3:8 (B), Sirach 30:2. This unique use of the verb by St Paul makes the allusion to the meaning of Onesimus (Philemon 1:11) practically certain. For the possibility that it also especially connotes the benefits that a father receives from a son (here Paul from Philemon) see many quott. in Lightfoot, among them the passage in Ecclus.

ἐν κυρίῳ. (Philemon 1:16.)

ἀνάπαυσόν μου τὰ σπλάγχνα. Repeat in my case what you have so often done to others (Philemon 1:7). Some have curiously understood σπλάγχνα here as in Philemon 1:12 and supposed that St Paul prays that Onesimus may be refreshed.

ἐν Χριστῷ, with ἀνάπαυσον. The phrase is added both as stating the only sphere of true refreshment (cf. Matthew 11:28), and as carrying with it a solemn appeal.


Verse 21

21. πεποιθὼς τῇ ὑπακοῇ σου, “trusting to thy obedience.” There is no exact parallel in the N.T. to this use of πέποιθα, with the dative of the thing trusted; cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:4, for a similar assurance as to obedience. ὑπακοή is a little strange here, after the very tender and gentle way in which he has been speaking. It is probably due to the deep consciousness of right (cf. Philemon 1:8, note on πολλὴν κ.τ.λ.) that he had in making his request. Hence he felt that Philemon ought to “obey” it. Compare Chrysostom ὅπερ καὶ ἀρχόμενος εἶπε Παρρησίαν ἔχων, τοῦτο καὶ ἐνταῦθα εἰς τὸ ἐπισφραγίσαι τὴν ἐπιστολήν.

In 2 Cor. St Paul writes much as here, but with more connotation of personal authority, due to the circumstances of the case; so 2 Corinthians 7:15. But in 2 Corinthians 10:6 ὑπακοή is probably used in a wider sense. P. Ewald understands ὑπακοή in our passage to be not strictly “obedience” but merely “attention” (“im Vertrauen darauf, dass du ein offenes Ohr hast!”).

ἔγραψά σοι., Philemon 1:19, note.

εἰδὼς., Colossians 3:24, note.

ὅτι καὶ ὑπὲρ ἅ λέγω ποιήσεις. ὑπέρ, Philemon 1:16, cf. also 1 Corinthians 4:6. St Paul is sure that Philemon (a) will do what he suggests, i.e. receive him back, and this as a brother in Christ (Philemon 1:16), and also (probably) into full partnership in Gospel privileges and duties (Philemon 1:17): (b) will do even more, the nature of this further kindness being purposely left undefined. It can hardly have been manumission (see note Philemon 1:16), but rather kindness shown in many details of act and feeling. In any case it cannot mean that St Paul hoped that Philemon would send Onesimus back to minister to him (Philemon 1:13), for he was expecting his release.


Verse 21-22

21, 22. Sure of Philemon’s obedience, he hopes to come to him soon


Verse 22

22. ἅμα δέ καὶ., Colossians 4:3.

Simultaneously (see Meyer) with the carrying out of my request and more (Philemon 1:21), be making arrangements for seeing me. Observe that the mention by St Paul of his coming soon to Colossae would in itself tend to ensure the welfare of Onesimus (cf. Chrysostom).

ἑτοίμαζέ μοι. The aorist would have suggested greater urgency, as though he were coming at once; the present is consistent with some delay. On Hort’s interpretation of this verse see the Introduction to Colossians, p. xlviii.

ζενίαν. Elsewhere in the N.T. Acts 28:23 only, of the apartment or house in which St Paul stayed when he first came to Rome. It was presumably different from the ἴδιον μίσθωμα of Acts 28:30, his own hired apartment. In the LXX. Sirach 29:27 B* only.

The classical usage of the word is rather “hospitality,” but, apart from the Biblical evidence in favour of the other meaning (slight though it is), St Paul would hardly like to ask for this. On the other hand a “lodging,” or rather a “guest chamber,” would be much less to ask for, even though payment would not be expected, since it would be compatible with the guest finding his own food. St Paul probably, but not certainly, implied that it would be in Philemon’s house.

διὰ τῶν προσευχῶν ὑμῶν. Cf. of St Peter Acts 12:5 sqq. Observe ὑμῶν, returning to Philemon 1:1-3 (possibly also Philemon 1:6). St Paul knew that the prayers of all his friends, and indeed of all the Church, were going up for his release.

χαρισθήσομαι ὑμῖν. In Colossians 2:13; Colossians 3:13 bis χαρ. = “forgive,” but in Acts 3:14; Acts 25:11; Acts 25:16; Acts 27:24, “grant” as here. Observe that the stress is not on possession by those to whom the person is given, but on the free kindness of the Giver; cf. Aquila in Genesis 33:5.


Verse 23

23. ʼΑσπάζεταί. Colossians 4:10, note.

σε. Philemon as head of the household. Perhaps he was known personally to most or some of those about to be mentioned. Probably only Epaphras knew others of those addressed in Philemon 1:1-3.

Ἐπαφρᾶς., Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12†. He is mentioned first, as belonging to Colossae, and also perhaps as being now by St Paul’s side.

ὁ συναιχμάλωτός μου., Colossians 4:10; cf. Romans 16:7†. In Col. of Aristarchus, not Epaphras; see note there.

ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. Almost certainly not with ἀσπάζεται (e.g. 1 Corinthians 16:19) but with συναιχμάλωτος. Cf. Philemon 1:1; Philemon 1:9, and esp. Ephesians 4:1. It suggests that Epaphras had taken on the imprisonment with Paul for Christ’s sake; cf. Chrysostom ἐν Χ. ., ἀντὶ τοῦ, διὰ Χριστόν.


Verse 23-24

23, 24. Salutations from friends


Verse 24

24. ΄άρκος, Ἀρίσταρχος. On these two names see Colossians 4:10, notes. In Col. also they precede Demas and Luke, though in the reverse order. They are there expressly said to be of the circumcision, and are, as here, included among St Paul’s συνεργοί.

Δημᾶς, Λουκᾶς. See Colossians 4:14, notes. There appears to be no reason why the order is different here from that in Col. Chrysostom says prettily but fancifully, ὁ μέντοι Λουκᾶς ἔσχατος ὤν, ἐγένετο πρῶτος.

οἱ συνεργοί μου., Colossians 4:11. Here of Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke. In Col. only of Aristarchus, Mark and Jesus Justus.

Why the last name is not added in this private letter can only be conjectured. Possibly he was not present at the moment, or possibly he alone (being perhaps a Jew of Rome) had had no connexion at all with Philemon.


Verse 25

25. Final Benediction

ἡ χάρις., Colossians 4:18, note.

τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. See notes on Textual Criticism.

μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν., Philippians 4:23; Galatians 6:18†; cf. 2 Timothy 4:22. See Colossians 2:5, note.

The reversion once more (Philemon 1:22) to ὑμῶν is due to the width of St Paul’s sympathy. On this verse Chrysostom writes Εὐχῇ τὴν ἐπιστολὴν κατέκλεισεν. Ἡ δὲ εὐχὴ μέγα μὲν ἀγαθὸν καὶ σωτήριον, καὶ τῶν ψυχῶν τῶν ἡμετέρων φυλακτήριον.

On the ἀμήν, and the Subscription, of the Text Rec., see notes on Textual Criticism.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Philemon 1:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/philemon-1.html. 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, May 24th, 2019
the Fifth Week after Easter
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology