Philemon 1:8 MEANING

Philemon 1:8
(8-20) Here St. Paul enters on the main subject of his Letter--the recommendation to Philemon of his runaway slave, Onesimus. All thoughtful readers of the Epistle must recognise in this a peculiar courtesy and delicacy of tone, through which an affectionate earnestness shows itself, and an authority all the greater because it is not asserted in command. The substance is equally notable in its bearing on slavery. Onesimus is doubly welcomed into the Christian family. He is St. Paul's son in the faith: he is to Philemon a brother beloved in the Lord. In that recognition is the truth to which, both in theory and in practice, we may look as being the destruction of slavery.

(8, 9) Wherefore . . . for love's sake . . .--Still the same idea runs on. Philemon's love, shown in Christian fellowship, is in the Apostle's mind; "therefore," he adds, "for love's sake"--speaking in the spirit of love, to which he knew there would be a ready response--he will not command, as an Apostle, what is "convenient," i.e., seemly, in a Christian (comp. Ephesians 5:14; Colossians 3:18), but will "entreat" as a brother.

(9) Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.--At this time St. Paul must have been between fifty and sixty, and after a life of unexampled labour and suffering he might well call himself "aged," not, perhaps, in comparison with Philemon, but in relation to his need of ministry from his "son" Onesimus. It has been suggested by Dr. Lightfoot that we should read here (by a slight change, or without any change, in the original), the ambassador, and also the prisoner, of Jesus Christ. The parallel with Ephesians 6:20--"for which I am an ambassador in bonds"--and, indeed, with the tone in which St. Paul in the other Epistles speaks of his captivity as his glory, is tempting. But the change seems to take much from the peculiar beauty and pathos of the passage; which fr

Verse 8. - Render: Although I have abundant freedom [boldness, or. even license] in Christ to enjoin upon thee that which is fitting. It was only in Christ, and by his authority as an apostle, that he could claim to come between a slave and his master. Secular warrant for doing so he had none. Such authority and license, however, he would not use on this occasion. He prefers to rely wholly on the respect and personal attachment felt towards him by Philemon, for the granting of his request, which he now proceeds to state.

1:8-14 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.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 3:6, but he chose not to address him in an authoritative way, but by way of entreaty, as follows.

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