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1. Paul's Pleas for Onesimus

Chapter 1

Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer, 2And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: 3Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, 5Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; 6That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother. 8Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, 9Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. 10I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: 11Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: 12Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels: 13Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: 14But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly. 15For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; 16Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? 17If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. 18If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; 19I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides. 20Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.

21Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say. 22But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.

23There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; 24Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.

25The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Philemon 1-7

1. Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,

1. Paulus vinctus Christi Iesu et Timotheus frater Philemoni amico et cooperario nostro,

2. And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:

2. Et Apphiae dilectae, et Archippo commilitoni nostro, et Ecclesiae, quae domi tuae est.

3. Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Gratia vobis et pax a Deo Patre nostro et Domino Iesu Christo.

4. I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,

4. Gratias ago Deo meo, semper memoriam tui faciens in precibus meis,

5. Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;

5. Audiens tuam dilectionem et fidem, quam habes erga Dominum Iesum et erga omnes sanctos,

6. That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

6. Ut communicatio fidei tuae efficax sit cognitione omnis boni, quod in vobis est erga Christum Iesum.

7. For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.

7. Gratiam enim habemus multam et consolationem super dilectione tua, quia viscera sanctorum per to refocillata sunt, frater.

The singular loftiness of the mind of Paul, though it may be seen to greater advantage in his other writings which treat of weightier matters, is also attested by this Epistle, in which, while he handles a subject otherwise low and mean, he rises to God with his wonted elevation. Sending back a runaway slave and thief, he supplicates pardon for him. But in pleading this cause, he discourses about Christian forbearance 269269     “De la douceur, moderation, et humanite.” — “Of gentleness, moderation, and kindness.” with such ability, that he appears to speak about the interests of the whole Church rather than the private affairs of a single individual. In behalf of a man of the lowest condition, he demeans himself so modestly and humbly, that nowhere else is the meekness of his temper painted in a more lively manner.

1. A prisoner of Jesus Christ. In the same sense in which he elsewhere calls himself an Apostle of Christ, or a minister of Christ, he now calls himself “a prisoner of Christ;” because the chains by which he was bound on account of the gospel, were the ornaments or badges of that embassy which he exercised for Christ. Accordingly, he mentions them for the sake of strengthening his authority; not that he was afraid of being despised, (for Philemon undoubtedly had so great reverence and esteem for him, that there was no need of assuming any title,) but because he was about to plead the cause of a runaway slave, the principal part of which was entreaty for forgiveness.

To Philemon our friend and fellow-laborer. It is probable that this “Philemon” belonged to the order of pastors; for the title with which he adorns him, when he calls him fellow-laborer, is a title which he is not accustomed to bestow on a private individual.


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