Philemon 1

Philemon 1:2

and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:

(a) Apphia was probably Philemon’s wife. Some manuscripts have “Apphia the beloved.”

(b) Archippus, the son of Philemon (Phm. 1:2), was named as the first bishop of the church of Laodicea by Clement in his Apostolical Constitutions. Based on Paul’s exhortation to him in the letter to the Colossians, he may have been a discouraged pastor. See entry for Col. 4:17.

Philemon 1:5

because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints;

The saints. Throughout scripture, Christians are consistently referred to sanctified saints. See entry for Acts 26:18.

Philemon 1:6

and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.

(a) Every good thing. In scripture, the phrase “good thing” can refer to Jesus himself. See the entry for Heb. 10:1.

(b) Which is in you. Paul prayed that we would have “a deeper understanding of every blessing which we have in our life in union with Christ” (GNB). These blessings include: love (Rom. 8:39, 1 Tim. 1:14, 1 John 3:17), forgiveness (Eph. 1:7, 4:32), reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19), salvation (Eph. 1:13, 2 Tim. 2:10), the gift of no condemnation (Rom. 8:1), freedom (Gal. 2:4), eternal life (Rom. 6:23, 2 Tim: 1:1, 1 John 3:15, 5:20), peace (Php. 4:7), sanctification (1 Cor. 1:2, 30, Php. 1:1, 4:21, 2 Tim. 1:9), righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30, 2 Cor. 5:21, Php. 3:9), authority (Eph. 2:6), new life (Eph. 2:5), an inheritance (Eph. 1:10-11), strength (Eph. 6:10), and provision (Php. 4:19. Indeed, every blessing is ours in Christ (Eph. 1:3). In him we are complete (Col. 2:10). Truly we are “privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God” (1 Cor. 3:23, MSG). “In union with Christ you have become rich in all things…” (1 Cor. 1:5, GNB).

See also the entry for Union.

Philemon 1:13

whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel;

(a) My imprisonment. Paul was not imprisoned because he preached the old covenant law. He became a target of Jewish animosity and Roman justice because he dared to tell people about the grace of God revealed in his Son. (See also Php. 1:14, 2 Tim. 2:9.)

(b) The gospel refers to the gospel of Christ or the gospel of God or the gospel of the kingdom. These are all different labels for the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24). See entry for The Gospel.

Philemon 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.

(a) A beloved brother. Onesimus may be the only person in the Bible to be called beloved twice by the apostle Paul (see Col. 4:9).

(b) In the flesh and in the Lord. A dear friend and a Christian brother as well.

Philemon 1:25

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Paul sometimes finishes his letters by saying “the Lord be with you” (2 Th. 3:16), and sometimes he closes by saying “grace be with you” (Eph. 6:24; Col. 4:18; 1 Tim. 6:21). There is no difference (Phm. 1:25; 2 Tim 4:22). To have the Lord is to have his grace.

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