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1 Paul a prisoner of Iesus Christ, & Timothie our brother vnto Philemon our dearely beloued, and fellow labourer,

2 And to our beloued Apphia, and Archippus our fellow Souldier, and to the Church in thy house.

3 Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Iesus Christ.

4 I thanke my God, making mention of thee alwayes in my prayers,

5 Hearing of thy loue, and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Iesus, and toward all Saints:

6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectuall by the acknowledging of euery good thing, which is in you in Christ Iesus.

7 For wee haue great ioy and consolation in thy loue, because the bowels of the Saints are refreshed by thee, brother.

8 Wherefore, though I might bee much bolde in Christ to enioyne thee that which is conuenient;

9 Yet for loues sake I rather beseech thee, being such a one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Iesus Christ.

10 I beseech thee for my sonne Onesimus, whome I haue begotten in my bonds,

11 Which in time past was to thee vnprofitable: but now profitable to thee and to me:

12 Whom I haue sent againe: thou therfore receiue him, that is mine owne bowels.

13 Whome I would haue reteined with mee, that in thy stead hee might haue ministred vnto me in the bonds of the Gospel.

14 But without thy minde would I doe nothing, that thy benefite should not bee as it were of necessitie, but willingly.

15 For perhaps hee therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receiue him for euer:

16 Not now as a seruant, but aboue a seruant, a brother beloued, specially to mee, but how much more vnto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?

17 If thou count mee therefore a partner, receiue him as my selfe.

18 If hee hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account.

19 I Paul haue written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I doe not say to thee how thou owest vnto me, euen thine owne selfe besides:

20 Yea, brother, let mee haue ioy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowles in the Lord.

21 Hauing confidence in thy obedience, I wrote vnto thee, knowing that thou wilt also doe more then I say.

22 But withall prepare mee also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be giuen vnto you.

23 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Iesus:

24 Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellow labourers.

25 The grace of our Lord Iesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.Written from Rome to Philemon, by Onesimus a seruant.

Viewing the original 1611 KJV with archaic English spelling
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Commentary for Philemon 1

Philemon was an inhabitant of Colosse, a person of some note and wealth, and a convert under the ministry of St. Paul. Onesimus was the slave of Philemon: having run away from his master, he went to Rome, where he was converted to the Christian faith, by the word as set forth by Paul, who kept him till his conduct proved the truth and sincerity of his conversion. He wished to repair the injury he had done to his master, but fearing the punishment his offence deserved might be inflicted, he entreated the apostle to write to Philemon. And St. Paul seems no where to reason more beautifully, or to entreat more forcibly, than in this epistle.The apostle's joy and praise for Philemon's steady faith in the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints. (1-7) He recommends Onesimus as one who would make rich amends for the misconduct of which he had been guilty; and on behalf of whom the apostle promises to make up any loss Philemon had sustained. (8-22) Salutations and a blessing. (23-25)1-7 Faith in Christ, and love to him, should unite saints more closely than any outward relation can unite the people of the world. Paul in his private prayers was particular in remembering his friends. We must remember Christian friends much and often, as their cases may need, bearing them in our thoughts, and upon our hearts, before our God. Different sentiments and ways in what is not essential, must not make difference of affection, as to the truth. He inquired concerning his friends, as to the truth, growth, and fruitfulness of their graces, their faith in Christ, and love to him, and to all the saints. The good which Philemon did, was matter of joy and comfort to him and others, who therefore desired that he would continue and abound in good fruits, more and more, to God's honour.

8-14 It does not lower any one to condescend, and sometimes even to beseech, where, in strictness of right, we might command: the apostle argues from love, rather than authority, in behalf of one converted through his means; and this was Onesimus. In allusion to that name, which signifies "profitable," the apostle allows that in time past he had been unprofitable to Philemon, but hastens to mention the change by which he had become profitable. Unholy persons are unprofitable; they answer not the great end of their being. But what happy changes conversion makes! of evil, good; of unprofitable, useful. Religious servants are treasures in a family. Such will make conscience of their time and trusts, and manage all they can for the best. No prospect of usefulness should lead any to neglect their obligations, or to fail in obedience to superiors. One great evidence of true repentance consists in returning to practise the duties which have been neglected. In his unconverted state, Onesimus had withdrawn, to his master's injury; but now he had seen his sin and repented, he was willing and desirous to return to his duty. Little do men know for what purposes the Lord leaves some to change their situations, or engage in undertakings, perhaps from evil motives. Had not the Lord overruled some of our ungodly projects, we may reflect upon cases, in which our destruction must have been sure.

15-22 When we speak of the nature of any sin or offence against God, the evil of it is not to be lessened; but in a penitent sinner, as God covers it, so must we. Such changed characters often become a blessing to all among whom they reside. Christianity does not do away our duties to others, but directs to the right doing of them. True penitents will be open in owning their faults, as doubtless Onesimus had been to Paul, upon his being awakened and brought to repentance; especially in cases of injury done to others. The communion of saints does not destroy distinction of property. This passage is an instance of that being imputed to one, which is contracted by another; and of one becoming answerable for another, by a voluntary engagement, that he might be freed from the punishment due to his crimes, according to the doctrine that Christ of his own will bore the punishment of our sins, that we might receive the reward of his righteousness. Philemon was Paul's son in the faith, yet he entreated him as a brother. Onesimus was a poor slave, yet Paul besought for him as if seeking some great thing for himself. Christians should do what may give joy to the hearts of one another. From the world they expect trouble; they should find comfort and joy in one another. When any of our mercies are taken away, our trust and hope must be in God. We must diligently use the means, and if no other should be at hand, abound in prayer. Yet, though prayer prevails, it does not merit the things obtained. And if Christians do not meet on earth, still the grace of the Lord Jesus will be with their spirits, and they will soon meet before the throne to join for ever in admiring the riches of redeeming love. The example of Onesimus may encourage the vilest sinners to return to God, but it is shamefully prevented, if any are made bold thereby to persist in evil courses. Are not many taken away in their sins, while others become more hardened? Resist not present convictions, lest they return no more.

23-25 Never have believers found more enjoyment of God, than when suffering together for him. Grace is the best wish for ourselves and others; with this the apostle begins and ends. All grace is from Christ; he purchased, and he bestows it. What need we more to make us happy, than to have the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ with our spirit? Let us do that now, which we should do at the last breath. Then men are ready to renounce the world, and to prefer the least portion of grace and faith before a kingdom.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Philemon 1

  • Breeze
    I think shows a great lesson. From how I read the chapter, I think Philemon had no problem receiving his servant back. It makes me wonder if he had been praying for Onesimus to meet someone to lead him to the Lord. How wonderful that the Lord reconnected them through a mutual friend. I hope to have my own Onesimus testimony one day with a long-lost friend.
  • Joe
    Anne - What I understand is that Onesimus was a slave who belonged to Philemon and that Philemon was a believer who loved both God and the saints. At some point Onesimus ran away to Rome, heard the word of God, and became a believer. Paul calls Onesimus his son because of their common bond, Jesus Christ.
  • Anne Braun
    You all have confused me in interpreting words that Paul did not say. Paul refers to Onesimus as his son. There is no mistaking this: 10 "I beseech thee for my son Onesimus whom I have begotten in my bonds." 12 "....that is, mine own bowels." Nowhere am I reading in this chapter that Onesimus was Paul's slave, but was his SON. Acting as ones servant is entirely different. It sounds to me as if Paul begot a son while he was in bondage, this son at some point ran away, or left the fold so to speak, now he has returned a changed person and Paul is asking now that he is aged, elderly , that Onesimus be received as if he were Paul himself. How are you all interpreting the situation to be different other than what Paul said? Explain?
  • Atsu Praize for verse 6
    I acknowledge that i have ternal life in me! I john 5:13
  • Fortunate manhiri
    i think this also imply to the church of today.we need to accomodate the whole communite despite their weakness.and be patiant give them time to reform other than descrimnating
  • Marc
    GODS QUESTIONMARK ON YOU...Phalieman 1:8-22... 1Reference: whois your reference and who take responsibility for your sins, your problems, your attitudes, Jesus, said will take responsibility- That is Christ...Just as a person will use you as a have to answer some questions about that person..maybe 2 or three...most of us use or pastor and they will ask they come to church?...are they there on time? ..Do they attend regularly?...Jesus is our reference for God... 2.Return..the return to Philemon as a different changeperson from slave to a person...Paul looked at the slave as a person and not a slave. 3. Reconciliation- Take him backas a brother to serve with you in Christ.....Paul wrote this in his own hand to teach about his personal pledge to the teach Philimon the rich man...2nd Corintians 5:19---21...The slave changed his life after he had run away and come back as Paul was his reference...

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