Phile 1:1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,
Paul is writing from his imprisonment to a man, perhaps a Pastor in the church at Colosse. He greets him not as an apostle but as a friend, with faithful Timothy.
Phile 1:2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:
Archippus probably was Philemons son and Aphhia Philemons wife.
Phile 1:3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The familiar greeting, grace, from which all blessings come and peace from the source of peace, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul has a purpose to the letter, but like so often is the case a greeting and formalities begin the conversation.
Phile 1:4 I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,
Paul a praying and caring apostle prayed for many. He began three other letters with this greeting; Romans, 1 Corinthians and Philippians. I like it when I know another is praying for me, it is appreciated.
Phile 1:5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;
Phile 1:6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
The grace of Jesus was working in and through Philemon.
Phile 1:7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
Paul commends his good character before requesting a favor of him. Is is always good to appeal to the good in a person when asking for something good to be done. Sometimes though people flatter to get their own way, this is not good.
Psa 12:2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
Psa 12:3 The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:
Paul was not using flattery to manipulate Philemon. He came in friendship. He never used flattery at any time.
1 Th 2:5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness:
Paul had a request to ask of Philemon. What was so important that Paul would appeal to a man personally?
Phile 1:8 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you
what is fitting
Phile 1:9 yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you--being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ--
Paul makes an appeal, for love's sake, being older and a prisoner of and for Jesus. Love should be always our motive, for God is love and he has called us to love one another.
Phile 1:10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains,
Onesimus was a runaway slave that Paul had led to the Lord. Paul calls him his son, for it was through him that he found his new life in Jesus. Apparently he had come to Paul seeking him out, while Paul was in chains, under house arrest in Rome.
Phile 1:11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.
Onesimus, had rebelled and run away from his owner, Philemon, looking for freedom. Now, he had found true freedom in Jesus Christ, and was a blessing.
Phile 1:12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart,
He is sending him back. Philemon was a Christian, now the slave Onesimus was also a Christian. The Holy Spirit was working in his heart, he wished to return. Paul requests that he be allowed to return.
Notice that in Christ is our true freedom and love is our motivation. We always want to do the right thing. There was no accusing here of wrongs, only a gentle request to allow a repentant slave to return.
Eph 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the
flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Eph 6:6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Onesimus wanted to serve God, and knew that he had to return to the one he had wronged. There was no blaming but a willingness to do what God required. We should also be motivated by love and do that which is pleasing to God. Does that apply to a slave who runs from a wicked slave owner? No, in that case he would be escaping satan. We are not to be in bondage to satan but we are to be members of God's family in love towards one another, serving God together for his glory. How may I serve you in truth and freedom Lord? This is our desire.
More than a slave
Phile 1:13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel.
Onesimus would have been useful to Paul
Phile 1:14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.
Paul is willing to keep Onesimus as a help to him. That would be interesting, Paul in chains with a slave to help him. Perhaps delivering messages and seeing to the things that Paul was unable to do. Have you ever volunteered your time to another? Many would benefit by a willing servant.
But he would keep him only with permission. He first is telling Philemon that the slave is useful, but what he decides is his own free will. The slave belongs to him.
Phile 1:15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever,
Phile 1:16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave--a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
By receiving Jesus and a new spirit, Onesimus is of great value, he is a useful servant, more than a servant to the Lord and now as a beloved brother in the family of God.
Phile 1:17 If you count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.
Paul a partner in the faith, equates the new brother as himself, to be received as himself.
Phil 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Phil 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Phile 1:18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.
Paul speaks of grace and redemption, if he has wronged you or owes you, then put it on my account. This is what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us.
1 Pet 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
1 Pet 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
1 Pet 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
Phile 1:19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay--not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides.
Paul offers to repay, but he also reminds Philemon that it was Paul who led him to Jesus with the resulting grace and salvation, redemption and the forgiveness of sins. He had been forgiven, and the Lord commands that we forgive.
Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
Mat 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Phile 1:20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord.
Phile 1:21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.
Paul appeals to his heart in this matter. We do not know the outcome of this epistle, but in the epistle to the Colossians we see that this letter and the letter to the Colossians were delivered by Tychicus and Onesimus. Paul also is hopeful that he will be released and return to greet them.
Col 4:7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:
Col 4:8 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;
Col 4:9 With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.
He ends his letter, with greetings from all who are with him. Including, Mark and Luke, who wrote the gospels by their name.
Phile 1:23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you
Phile 1:24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.
Phile 1:25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
This epistle speaks of the new life in Christ; a profitable life of grace and truth. It speaks of love, redemption and forgiveness. These are essential to our Christian life. One final thought, be not a slave to any man, then you want be at anothers mercy. How can we be a slave in this day? Through debts owed to another, through promises broken, through unforgiveness, through bad choices. Learn of the Lord, for salvation and redemption must be followed with a new life in his spirit. People disappoint, God never fails, so owe no man anything and serve the Lord with all your heart. Gary