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  • ROBERTSON'S NT WORD STUDIES
    & BIBLE COMMENTARY - PHILEMON 1

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    1:1 {A prisoner of Christ Jesus} (desmios cristou iesou). As verse #9 and in #Eph 3:1; 4:1. Old adjective from desmos (bond, dew, to bind). Apparently used here on purpose rather than apostolos as more effective with Philemon and a more touching occasion of pride as Paul writes with his manacled right hand. {Timothy} (timoqeos). With Paul in Ephesus (#Ac 19:22) and probably known to Philemon. Associated with Paul also in I and II Thess., II Cor., Philipp., Col. {To Philemon} (Philˆmoni). A resident of Colossae and a convert of Paul's (verse #19), perhaps coming to Ephesus while Paul was there when his ministry had so much influence over the province of Asia (#Ac 19:9f., 26; 1Co 16:19). The name Philemon occurs in the legend of Baucis and Philemon (Ovid's _Metamorphoses_), but with no connection with the brother here. He was active in the church in Colossae ("our co-worker," sunerg"i hemwn) and was beloved (agapˆt"i) by Paul.

    1:2 {To Apphia our sister} (Apphiai tˆi adelphˆi). Dative case in address. A common name in Phrygian inscriptions and apparently the wife of Philemon. "Sister" is in the Christian sense. {To Archippus} (Archipp"i). Dative case in address. It is uncertain whether he is the son of Philemon or not. Apparently he is prominent in the church in Colossae, possibly even pastor, probably not in Laodicea as some understand #Col 4:17 to imply. {Fellow-soldier} (sunstratiwtei). Old word, only here and #Php 2:25 in N.T. In metaphorical sense. Perhaps while Paul was in Ephesus. {To the church in thy house} (tˆi kat' oikon sou ekklˆsiai). The church that met in the house of Philemon. In large cities there would be several meeting-places. Before the third century there is no certain evidence of special church buildings for worship (White, _Exp. Grk. T._). See #Ac 12:12 for Mary's house in Jerusalem, #1Co 16:19 for the house of Aquila and Prisca in Ephesus, #Ro 16:5 for the house of Prisca and Aquila in Rome, #Col 4:15 for the house of Nympha in Laodicea.

    1:4 {Always} (pantote). Goes with eucaristw though so far away in the Greek sentence. {Making mention of thee} (mneian sou poioumenos). See #1Th 1:2 for this phrase. {In} (epi). Upon the occasion of.

    1:5 {Hearing} (akouwn). Through Epaphras (#Col 1:7,8; 4:12), possibly from Onesimus also. {And towards all the saints} (kai eis pantas tous hagious). He spoke of "thy love and faith" (sou tˆn agapen kai tˆn pistin) "towards the Lord Jesus" (pros ton kurion iesoun) and by a sort of momentum (Vincent) he carries both words over to the saints, though it can be explained as chiasm (#Ga 4:4) also.

    1:6 {That} (hopws). Rather than the more common final particle hina. Connected with mneian poioumenos. {The fellowship of thy faith} (hˆ koinwnia tˆs pistews sou). Partnership like #Php 1:5 in (objective genitive, pistews). {Effectual} (energes). Common adjective, like energos (at work), in N.T. only here, #1Co 16:9; Heb 4:12. Papyri use energos of a mill in working order, of ploughed land, etc. {In you} (en humin). Some MSS. have en hemin (in us), itacism and common.

    1:7 {I had} (escon). Ingressive second aorist active indicative of ecw, not eichomˆn as the Textus Receptus has it. Paul refers to his joy when he first heard the good news about Philemon's activity (verse #5). {The hearts} (ta splagcna). See #Php 1:8 for this use of this word for the nobler viscera (heart, lungs, liver) and here for the emotional nature. {Have been refreshed} (anapepautai). Perfect passive indicative of old compound verb anapauw as in #Mt 11:28, a relief and refreshment whether temporary (#Mr 6:31) or eternal (#Re 14:13).

    1:8 {Though I have} (ecwn). Concessive participle (present active). {That which is befitting} (to anˆkon). Neuter singular accusative of the articular participle (present active) of anˆk", to come up to requirements and so to be befitting. For idea in anˆk", see #Col 3:18; Eph 5:4. this idiom is in later writers. {I rather beseech} (mallon parakalw). Rather than command (epitassw) which he has a perfect right to do.

    1:9 {Paul the aged} (paulos presbutes). Paul is called neanias (a young man) at the stoning of Stephen (#Ac 7:58). He was perhaps a bit under sixty now. Hippocrates calls a man presbutˆs from 49 to 56 and gerwn after that. The papyri use presbutˆs for old man as in #Lu 1:18 of Zacharias and in #Tit 2:2. But in #Eph 6:20 Paul says presbeuw en halusei (I am an ambassador in a chain). Hence Lightfoot holds that here presbutˆs = presbeutes because of common confusion by the scribes between u and eu. In the LXX four times the two words are used interchangeably. There is some confusion also in the papyri and the inscriptions. Undoubtedly ambassador (presbeutes) is possible here as in #Eph 6:20 (presbeuw) though there is no real reason why Paul should not term himself properly "Paul the aged."

    1:10 {For my child} (peri tou emou teknou). Tender and affectionate reference to Onesimus as his spiritual child. {Whom I have begotten in my bonds} (hon egennesa en tois desmois). First aorist active indicative of gennaw, to beget. See #1Co 4:15 for this figurative sense. Paul is evidently proud of winning Onesimus to Christ though a prisoner himself.

    1:11 {Onesimus} (Onˆsimon). A common name among slaves and made like Chresimus, Chrestus. The word is from onˆsis (profit) and that from oninˆmi, to profit, to help. {Who was aforetime unprofitable to thee} (ton pote soi acreston). "The once to thee useless one." Play (pun) on the meaning of the name Onesimus (onˆsimos, useful) as once "useless" (achrˆstos, verbal adjective, a privative and craomai, to use). {But now is profitable to thee and to me} (nuni de soi kai emoi eucreston). "But now to thee and to me useful." Still further play on the name Onesimus by eucreston (verbal adjective from eu and craomai, to use). Ethical dative here (soi, emoi).

    1:12 {I have sent back} (anepempsa). Epistolary aorist. As it will look when Onesimus arrives. {In his own person} (auton). "Himself," intensive pronoun with hon (whom). {My very heart} (ta ema splagcna). As in verse #7. He almost loves Onesimus as his own son.

    1:13 {I would fain have kept} (eboulomen katechein). Imperfect middle and present infinitive, "I was wishing to hold back." Again from the standpoint of the arrival of Onesimus. {In thy behalf} (huper sou). So "in thy stead,"in place of thee." {He might minister} (diakonei). Present active subjunctive (retained after eboulomen) with hina, purpose continued, "that he might keep on ministering."

    1:14 {Without thy mind} (cwris tˆs sˆs gnwmes). Judgment, purpose (#1Co 1:10; 7:25). Ablative case with cwris (apart from). {I would do nothing} (ouden eqelesa poiesai). First aorist active indicative of qelw, I decided, I wished, decision reached (cf. eboulomen in verse #13. {Thy goodness} (to agaqon sou). Neuter articular adjective (thy good deed). {As of necessity} (h"s kata anagkˆn). "As if according to compulsion." See #2Co 9:7. {But of free will} (alla kata hekousion). According to what is voluntary (#Nu 15:3). Perhaps tropon (way, manner) is to be understood with the adjective hekousios (old word, here alone in N.T.), from hekwn (#1Co 9:17; Ro 8:20).

    1:15 {Perhaps} (tacha). Old adverb, in N.T. only here and #Ro 5:7. {That thou shouldst have him} (hina auton apeceis). Final clause with hina and present active subjunctive of apecw, to have back, "that thou might keep on having him back." {For ever} (aiwnion). "Eternal," here and hereafter. Surely a noble thing for Paul to say and a word that would touch the best in Philemon.

    1:16 {No longer as a servant} (ouketi h"s doulon). "No longer as a slave." So it has to be here. So it should be always. Paul sends Onesimus, the converted runaway slave, back to his legal master, but shows that he expects Philemon the Christian to treat Onesimus as a brother in Christ, not as a slave. {But more than a servant} (all' huper doulon). "But beyond a slave." {A brother beloved} (adelfon agapeton). A brother in Christ. {How much rather to thee} (pos"i de mallon soi). "By how much more to thee," because of Philemon's legal ownership of this now Christian slave. "In the flesh Philemon had the brother for a slave; in the Lord he had the slave for a brother" (Meyer).

    1:17 {If qen thou countest me a partner} (ei oun me echeis koin"non). As I assume that you do, condition of the first class. {Receive him as myself} (proslabou auton hws eme). "Take him to thyself (indirect second aorist middle of proslambanw as in #Ac 18:26) as myself." Surpassing delicacy and consummate tact. These words sound the death-knell of human slavery wherever the spirit of Christ is allowed to have its way. It has been a long and hard fight to break the shackles of human bondage even in Christian countries and there are still millions of slaves in pagan and Mohammedan lands. Paul wrote these words with wisdom and courage and sincerity.

    1:18 {But if he hath wronged thee at all} (ei de ti ˆdikˆse se). Condition of the first class, assumed to be true. Onesimus did wrong (ˆdikˆse, first aorist active indicative of adikeo, to wrong, without justice). He had probably robbed Philemon before he ran away. {Or oweth} (ˆ ofeilei). Delicate way of putting the stealing. {Put that to mine account} (touto emoi elloga). Present active imperative of elloga". In the _Koin‚_ verbs in -e" often appear in -a" like eleew, eleaw. So with elloge" as elloga", late verb in inscriptions and papyri (Deissmann, _Light, etc._, p. 84), though in N.T. only here and #Ro 5:13. It means to set to one's account.

    1:19 {Write} (egraya). Epistolary aorist. {With mine hand} (tei emei ceiri). Instrumental case and a note of hand that can be collected. See #2Th 3:17; 1Co 16:21; Col 4:18. {I will repay it} (egw apotisw). Future active indicative of apotinw (apoti") to pay back, to pay off. The more usual word was apod"s". this is Paul's promissory note. Deissmann (_Light, etc._, p. 331) notes how many of the papyri are concerning debts. {That I say not} (hina me legw). Neat idiom as in #2Co 9:4, delicately reminding Philemon that Paul had led him also to Christ. {Thou owest to me even thine own self besides} (kai seauton moi prosopheileis). Old verb, only here in N.T., Paul using the verb ofeilw of verse #18 with pros added. He used every available argument to bring Philemon to see the higher ground of brotherhood in Christ about Onesimus.

    1:20 {Let me have joy of thee} (eg" sou onaimˆn). Second aorist middle optative of oninˆmi, old verb, only here in N.T. Optative the regular construction for a wish about the future. "May I get profit from thee in the Lord." {Refresh my heart in Christ} (anapauson mou ta splagcna en Christ"i). See verse #7 for anapauson (first aorist active imperative of anapauw) and splagcna (3 times in this letter, #7,12,20).

    1:21 {Obedience} (hupakoˆi). "Compliance" seems less harsh to us in the light of #9. {I write} (egraya). Epistolary aorist again. {Even beyond what I say} (kai huper ha legw). That can only mean that Paul "knows" (eidws, second perfect active participle of oida) that Philemon will set Onesimus free. He prefers that it come as Philemon's idea and wish rather than as a command from Paul. Paul has been criticized for not denouncing slavery in plain terms. But, when one considers the actual conditions in the Roman empire, he is a wise man who can suggest a better plan than the one pursued here for the ultimate overthrow of slavery.

    1:22 {But with} (hama de). Along with your kindly reception of Onesimus. On hama, see #Ac 24:26; 27:40. {A lodging} (xenian). Old word from xenos, stranger. In N.T. only here and #Ac 28:23. {I shall be granted unto you} (carisqesomai humin). First future passive of carizomai. Used either as a favor as here and #Ac 3:14 or for destruction (#Ac 25:11).

    1:23 {Epaphras} (Epaphras). The Colossian preacher who apparently started the work in Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea, and who had come to Rome to enlist Paul's help in the fight against incipient Gnosticism in the Lycus Valley. {My fellow-prisoner} (ho sunaicmalwtos mou). See on ¯Ro 16:7 for this word, also in #Col 4:10. Used metaphorically like the verb aicmalwtizw in #2Co 10:5, though some hold that Epaphras became a prisoner with Paul in Rome.

    1:24 The other "co-workers" (sunergoi) here (Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke) are all named in detail in #Col 4:10-14 with kindly words.

    1:25 {Grace} (he caris). this great word occurred in the greeting (verse #3) as it does in the farewell.

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