Philemon: An exposition of the letter to Philemon (The 66 Books)


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Introduction to the New Testament

The letter consists of two parts: first a doctrinal section, then a second regarding conduct. Those who believe that the impetus of the letter was a growing heresy in the church see both sections of the letter as opposing false teachers who have been spreading error in the congregation. Final Greetings —18 [22]. In its doctrinal sections, Colossians emphatically explains that Christ is begotten before all creation not created and is supreme over all that has been created. All things were created through him and for him, and the universe is sustained by him.

God had chosen for his complete being to dwell in Christ. The "cosmic powers" revered by the false teachers had been "discarded" and "led captive" at Christ's death. Christ is the master of all angelic forces and the head of the church. Christ is the only mediator between God and humanity, the unique agent of cosmic reconciliation. It is the Father in Colossians who is said to have delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, [23] not the typical way of articulating salvation today.

The Son is the agent of reconciliation and salvation not merely of the church, but in some sense redeems the rest of creation as well "all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven".

Vernon McGee Thru The Bible: 57 - PHILEMON

The doctrinal part comprises the first two chapters. Its main theme is developed in Colossians chapter 2, with a warning against being drawn away from Him in whom dwelt all the fullness of the deity, [25] and who was the head of all spiritual powers. Christ was the head of the body of which they were members; and if they were truly united to him, what more did they need? Colossians praises the spiritual growth of the recipients because of their love for all the set-apart ones in Christ.

One of the great themes of the doctrinal section of Colossians is promise of union with Christ through the indwelling life of God the Holy Spirit. For example, Colossians , "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. As does 1 Corinthians 13, Colossians 1, in early verses, deals with faith, hope and love. While in the case of 1 Corinthians, the love "does not" statements, such as boasting, recall the criticisms of the Corinthians earlier in the book.

Colossians is different. Paul looks at the faith, hope and love of the Colossian believers as evidence and validation of their faith experience. In introductory verses, —7, Paul states that the fruit seen in them started the day they understood the grace of God in truth. Conduct is a fruit of faith. Colossians denounces ascetic practices or avoiding certain foods because Christ's death put an end to such distinctions.

Believers are one in Christ, not divided between circumcised and uncircumcised, slave and free, and so on. He then calls on his audience to fulfill all domestic and social obligations. A striking image of religion by such rules used by Paul is his use of the word "shadows". Some practices in the past may be shadows of what is to come, but Christ is the one who cast the shadow.

Colossians does not state with precision what heresies were being faced by the church. There are approximately 44 different theories what the heresies encountered by the church at Colossae were, including a view there was no particular heresy at all but issues typical of those faced by believers. Some argue that it is not merely fasting or feasting or particular area of emotions, conduct or intellect that are denounced but doing them with an independent spirit, not connected to Christ, the head of the body or lack of appreciation of the gospel of grace.

The practical part of the Epistle, [31] enforces various duties naturally flowing from the doctrines expounded. They are exhorted to mind things that are above Colossians —4, to mortify every evil principle of their nature, and to put on the new man. The letter ends with customary prayer, instruction, and greetings. Colossians is often categorized as one of the "prison epistles" that include Ephesians , Colossians, Philippians , and Philemon.

Philippians, Colossians & Philemon: New American Commentary [NAC]

Colossians has some close parallels with the letter to Philemon: names of some of the same people e. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


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Main article: Authorship of the Pauline Epistles. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, p. Palo Alto: Mayfield. Retrieved San Francisco: Harper Collins. Marcionite canon; Irenaeus, Adv. This traditional view stood [usually] unquestioned until , when E. Mayerhoff denied the authenticity of this letter, claiming that it was full of non-Pauline ideas and dependent on the letter of Ephesians.

Thereafter others have found additional arguments against Pauline authorship. Schweizer suggests that Col was jointly written by Paul and Timothy. Lohse regards Col as the product of a Pauline school tradition, probably located in Ephesus. For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, In the expressions and acts of it to the poor saints; for which reason the apostle gives thanks for it before; and it is a pleasure and comfort to an ingenuous mind, though it is not in his power to do good to the poor saints himself, to see that others have both abilities, and a heart to relieve them: because the bowels of the saints are, refreshed by thee, brother; meaning, not only that their bellies were filled with food, for the phrase is used in Plm where that cannot be intended; but their hearts were filled with gladness, the load upon their spirits, the pressures upon their minds were removed, and they had an inward pleasure in their souls, and rest, refreshment, and comfort, through the liberal communications of Philemon to them; who did what he did cheerfully, that so it did their souls good, as well as their bodies; and in doing which, he acted the part of a brother in Christ.

Read More From F. F. Bruce

Philemon Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ, Or use much freedom of speech in the name of Christ, as an ambassador of his, and great authority as his apostle, which was given him for edification: to enjoin thee that which is convenient; which became him as a believer in Christ, and a minister of the Gospel; which was his duty, and was obligatory upon him, agreeable to the doctrines of Christ; who taught men to love their enemies, to be reconciled to their brethren, that had offended them, especially when they repented; and therefore it was fit and proper that he should receive his servant again, since God had called him by his grace, and given him repentance for his sins: upon this foot the apostle could have commanded him, as he did in other cases, 2 Thessalonians , but he chose not to address him in an authoritative way, but by way of entreaty, as follows.

Philemon Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee , being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.


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Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, Either for the sake of the great love which the apostle bore to Philemon, being, as he calls him, his dearly beloved, he took this method; or because of Philemon's great love to all the saints before mentioned, he was encouraged to proceed in this manner, hoping on that account to have success; or it may be, it was for the sake of that love with which God had loved him, and which he puts him in mind of, to engage him to grant his request; that seeing God the Father had loved him, and chosen him in Christ; and Christ had loved him, and redeemed him by his blood; and the Holy Spirit had loved him, and sanctified him by his grace, that therefore he would receive his servant again for the sake of this love; who also was the object of it; see Romans The Alexandrian copy reads, "for", or "through necessity", as if necessity obliged him to this request, Being such an one as Paul the aged; or "the elder"; meaning either in office, which he might mention with this view, that his request might have the greater weight and influence; or else in years, and which he might observe partly to move compassion in Philemon, and that he might not grieve him in his old age, as he would, should he deny his request; and partly to suggest to him, that the advice he was about to give him, to receive his servant, did not come from a raw young man, but from one well stricken in years, with whom were wisdom and understanding; and therefore not to be treated with neglect or contempt: how old the apostle was at this time, is not certain; he could not be less than sixty years of age, or he would not have called himself an old man; for no man was so called by the Jews, but he that was at the age of sixty b.

Some editions of the Vulgate Latin version, as that of the London Polyglot Bible, read, "seeing thou art such an one as Paul the aged"; as if Philemon was an old man, as the apostle was, and therefore he would not lay his commands upon him, as an ancient man might upon a young man, but rather entreat him as equal to him in years: but then it follows, which does not appear to be true of Philemon, or that he was in the like case, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ; which is observed with the same view as in Plm See Gill on Plm Philemon I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, Now he comes to the request itself, and mentions by name the person on whose account he makes it, and whom he calls his son; not merely because of his affection to him, but because he really was his spiritual father; he had been the happy instrument of his conversion, and he was his son according to the common faith, or in a spiritual sense: hence it follows, whom I have begotten in my bonds: which is to be understood of a begetting again, or of regeneration; not as if the apostle was the efficient cause of it, as the nature of it shows, it being expressed by men's being born from above; by their being quickened, when dead in trespasses and sins; by being made new creatures, and transformed in the renewing of their minds; by Christ being formed in them, and by a partaking of the divine nature; and who is sufficient for these things?

Philemon Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, Yea, injurious and hurtful; one that was an eye servant, that loitered away his time, and set an ill example to fellow servants; and not only so, but embezzled his master's goods, and robbed him, and run away from him. Some think there is in this an allusion to his name Onesimus, which signifies "profitable"; before he did not answer to his name, but now he was a true Onesimus, really a profitable person; grace, of an unprofitable man, makes a profitable one.

Such an one is profitable to himself; his godliness is gain unto him, it having both the promise of this life, and of that which is to come; and he is profitable to others, if he has gifts qualifying him for the public work of the ministry, as Onesimus seems to have had; then he is made and becomes very useful to many for conviction, conversion, comfort, and edification; and if only a private believer, he is often profitable to others, by relating the work of God upon his soul; he is serviceable to the interest of Christ, for the support of the ministry, and supply of the poor; he is useful by his good examples, and prayers, in the neighbourhood, town, city, or nation, in which he dwells.

Introduction to the New Testament

This argument from profit, the apostle knew would be an engaging one. Philemon Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels: Whom I have sent again, From Rome to Colosse, or to Philemon, wherever he was, along with this epistle: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels; meaning his son, who, in a spiritual sense, came out of his bowels, to whom he stood in the relation of a spiritual father; so the Syriac version renders it, as my son, so receive him; see Genesis and for whom he had a most strong affection, and tender regard; his bowels yearned for him, and he suggests by this expression, that should he reject him, it would give him the utmost pain and uneasiness; and he should be obliged to cry out as the Prophet Jeremy did, "my bowels, my bowels, I am pained at the very heart"; Jeremiah wherefore he entreats him to receive him again into his house and family, into his service, and into his heart and affections, where the apostle had received him.


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Philemon Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: Whom I would have retained with me, At Rome, where the apostle was a prisoner: that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the Gospel; the apostle was in bonds, not for any crime, for any immorality he had been guilty of, but for the sake of the Gospel, for professing and preaching that; for this he was an ambassador in bonds, as he elsewhere says, Ephesians Now he would have kept Onesimus with him, either to have waited upon him, in his bonds, and to have provided for him the necessaries of life; or to have assisted him in the ministration of the word, in the room of Philemon, who, had he been there, would have been employed in such service; so that if the apostle had retained him, he would have been acting not for himself, but in the room of his master, and doing what he should have done, had he been on the spot.

This the apostle observes to prevent an objection that might have been made; that since Onesimus was become so profitable to him, why did he send him back? Philemon But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly. But without thy mind would I do nothing, Philemon For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, The apostle in this clause seems to soften this business of Onesimus in running away from his master; he calls it not a running away, but a departure, an absence from him, and that but for a little while; and suggests that the hand of God might be in it; that there was an overruling providence that attended it, such as was in Joseph's going down into Egypt; and that this separation of Onesimus from his master, for a short time, was in order that they should come together again, and never part more, as follows: that thou shouldest receive him for ever; or during life, referring to the law in Exodus or to all eternity, since they were in the same spiritual relation, partakers of the same grace, and had a right to the same heavenly inheritance, and should be together with Christ for evermore.

Philemon Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? Not now as a servant, That is, not only as a servant, for a servant he was, and was to be received as such; his call by grace had not dissolved the civil relation that was between him and his master, though it had added to it something that was above it, and greater than it: but above a servant; in a higher condition, as the Arabic version renders it, than a servant; not barely considered in that relation, but as being in one much preferable to it: a brother beloved, specially to me; a brother in Christ, and to be beloved on that account, as he was especially by the apostle, who had been the instrument of his conversion; see Colossians But how much more unto thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord?

Philemon If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If thou count me therefore a partner, Philemon If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; If he hath wronged thee, By squandering away his time, spoiling his work, or corrupting his fellow servants: or oweth thee ought; by embezzling his master's goods, robbing him of his money, and running away from his service: put that on mine account; Signifying that he would be answerable for all, and make good all debts and damages.

Philemon I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it : albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides. I Paul have written it, with mine own hand, From hence may be observed, how greatly obliged regenerated persons are to those, who have been the means and instruments of their conversion. Philemon Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord. Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord, Philemon Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.

Having confidence in thy obedience, In his obedience of faith to Christ, and his Gospel; he having been made willing in the day of his power to serve him, as well as to be saved by him; and being constrained by his love, and the Spirit of Christ having wrought in him both to will and to do of his good pleasure: l wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say; the knowledge the apostle had of Philemon's cheerful obedience to Christ in all the parts of duty, encouraged him to write to him, on this head; believing that he would even do more than he had desired of him.

Philemon But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you. But withal prepare me also a lodging, Who was a Colossian, and minister of the church at Colosse, and so might be well known to Philemon, who seems to have been of the same place and church; see Colossians his name is omitted in the Ethiopic version: my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus; this good man, and minister of Christ, might have been sent by the Colossians, as Epaphroditus was by the Philippians, to the apostle at Rome, to pay him a visit, and comfort and assist him under his afflictions; and staying and preaching the Gospel there, was committed to prison, or was laid in bonds, as the apostle was, and upon the same account; namely, for the sake of Christ, and his Gospel.

For by this time Nero began to persecute the Christians, which he did in the better and more moderate part of his reign; for among several things for which he is commended by the historian b , this is one, ""Afficti suppliciis Christiani, genus hominum superstitionis novae ac maleficae"; the Christians were punished, a sort of men of a new and bad religion: and Epaphras being at Rome, when this persecution broke out, was taken up and put in prison, as were also Aristarchus, Colossians and Timothy, Hebrews

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