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Notes on Philemon

Notes on Philemon

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• 51. The History of Philemon.


• 51. The History of Philemon.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 10, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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OTES O PHILEMOBY ALBERT BARESITRODUCTIO. • 51. The History of Philemon. Of Philemon, to whom this epistle was addressed, almost nothinnr mora is known tlian can be ascertained from tlie epistle itself. It is short, and of a private character; but it is a bright and beautiful gem in tlie volume(f inspiration. From Col. iv. 9, it may be inferred that the person to whom it was addressed was an inhabitant of Colosse, since Onesimus, concerning whom this epistle was written, is there mentioned as '• one of them." See otes on that verse. Comp. the ingenious remarks of Paley, Hor. Paul., on Colossians, o. IV. He is said by Calmet and Micliaelis to have been wealthy; but this cannot be determined with certainty, though it is not nnprobable. The only circumstances which seem to indicate this, are, tiiat Onesimus had been his 'servant,' from wliicii it has been inferred tliat he was an owner of slaves ; and that he appears to have been accustomed to show hospitality to strangers, or, as Alichaelis expresses it, "travelling Christians." Sec ver. 2*2 of the epistle. But these circumstances are not SiifRcient to determine that he was a man of proj)erty. There is no evi- dence, as we shall see, that he was a slave-holder; and Christians in moderate circumstances were accustomed to show hospitality to their bre- thren. Besides, it is not said in ver. *J*J that he was accustome<l to show pcneral hospitality; but Paul merely asks him to provide for him a lodg- ing. It is probable that he liad been accustomed to remain with him
when ho was in Colosse. It is quite clear that he had been converted under the ministrj' of the apostle himselt". This appears from what is said in ver. 19: "I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self." This cannot be under- ?too<l otlierwise than as implying tlmt he had been converted under his ] - ' • •' \on some former occasion, had been the rueana , tliere is no evidence. Indee<i, it is manifest, li _. ,, ... rpistle, that Philemon had been converted by the labours of the autlior. It is just such a letter as it would be natural and proper to write on such a supijosition ; it is Bot one which the apostle 29 • (cccxxix) ( .^ J CCCXXX ITRODUCTIO. would have been likely to write to any one who did not sustain euch a relatxjn to him. But where and when he was converted, is un- known. It is possible that Paul may have met with him at Ephesus; but it is much more probable that he had himself been at Colosse, and that Philemon was one of his converts there. See Intro, to the epistle to the Colossians. It is evident from the epistle that Paul regarded him as a sincere Chris- tian ; as a man of strict integrity; as one vAio could be depended on to do
right. Thus (vs. 5 — 7), he says that he had heard of his 'love and faith toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints ;' thus he confidently asks him to provide for him a lodging when he should come (ver. 22) ; and thus he expresses the assured belief that he would do what was right towards one v.ho had been his servant, who, having been formerly unfaithful, was no'.v converted, and, in the estimation of the apostle, was worthy of the confidence and affection of his former master. In regard to his rank in the christian church, nothing whatever is known. Paul calls him (ver. 1) his ' fellow-labourer ;' but tliis appellation is so genera], that it determines nothing in regard to tlie manner in which he co-operated with him in promoting religion. It is a term which might be applied to any active Christian, whether a preacher, an elder, a deacon, or a private member of the church. It would seem clear, however, that he was not a travelling preacher, for he had a home in Colosse (vs. 2. 22); and the presumption is, that he was an active and benevolent member of the church, who did not sustain any office. There are many private mem- bers of the churches, to whom all that is said of Philemon in the epistle would apply. Yi t there have been various conjectures in regard to the office which he held. Hofiluanu (Intro, ad Lection. Ep. ad Colossenses, § 18) supposes that he was bishop of Colosse; JMichaelis supposes that he was a deacon in the church ; but of either of these, there is no evidence whatever. othing is known of his age, his profession, or of the time and circum- stances of his death. either is it certainly known what efiect this epistle had on him, or whether he again received Onesimus under his roof. It may be presumed, however, that such a letter, addressed to such a man would not fail of its object. § 2. The occasion on which the epistle was written. This can be learned only from the epistle itself, and there the circum-

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