Paul's Letter to Brother Philemon Volume 8
by Clifford Tate
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Paul Concludes his Letter and Bids Farewell to Philemon Part 1
Philemon 1:19-20 I 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. Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord. KJV Note: MKJV = Modern King James Version
Paul makes it clear here to Philemon that he will repay whatever Onesimus had stolen from him, yet Paul does not expect him to require him to do so, but he wants him to know how much he cares for Onesimus and how much he has seen the change in him after he heard the Gospel of our Lord, Master, and Savior Jesus Christ and truly became a believer. Paul wanted to remind Philemon how he had been the instrument of God the Father in bringing the Gospel of Christ to him and God the Holy Spirit baptizing him into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), so he declares these words to him, "I 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." (Philemon 1:19) (KJV). Paul wanted to let Brother Philemon know how personal this letter was to him, so he declares here that he had written it with his own hand. Paul may have had poor eye sight as it is written by him to the Galatians with these words, "But you know that through infirmity of the flesh I preached the Gospel to you before, and you did not despise my temptation in my flesh, nor did you spurn it. But you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then was your blessedness? For I bear you record that, if you were able, plucking out your eyes, you would have given them to me." (Galatians 4:13-15) (MKJV), however, despite this he did not use a stenographer or transcriber to write this letter for him because it was too personal to him, so he wanted to pen every word with his own hand no matter the difficulty or length of time it took. Here is what Albert Barnes had to say about this verse, "It has been inferred from this, that Paul wrote this entire Epistle with his own hand, though this was contrary to his usual practice. He undoubtedly meant to refer to this as a mark of special favor toward Philemon, and as furnishing security that he would certainly be bound for what he had promised. I will be security for it. It is not probable that Paul supposed that Philemon would rigidly exact it from him, but if he did, he would feel himself bound to pay it. Paul had doubtless been the means of the conversion of Philemon, and whatever hope he cherished of eternal life, was to be traced to his instrumentality. Paul says that this was equivalent to his owing himself to him. His very life - his eternal welfare - was to be traced to his labors. What he asked now of him was a small matter compared with this, and he seems to have supposed - what was probably true - that for this consideration, Philemon would not think of exacting of him what he had voluntarily obligated himself to obey."
Paul desires that Philemon would gratify him in his inner man by graciously accepting Philemon back with these next words here, "Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord." (Philemon 1:20) (KJV). The joy Paul sought was the reestablishing of contact between Philemon and Onesimus, but that their reconciliation would be different now that Onesimus has also become a Christian and that their reunion would now be that (not of a slave returning to his master), but that of a newly adopted brother becoming a part of his family. This would bring to the Apostle Paul's inner man much joy in the Lord. Here is what Alexander MacLaren had to say of this verse, "The request for the sake of which the whole letter is written is here put as a kindness to Paul himself, and thus an entirely different motive is appealed to. 'Surely you would be glad to give me pleasure. Then do this thing which I ask you.' It is permissible to seek to draw to virtuous acts by such a motive, and to reinforce higher reasons by the desire to please dear ones, or to win the approbation of the wise and good. It must be rigidly kept as a subsidiary motive, and distinguished from the mere love of applause. Most men have some one whose opinion of their acts is a kind of embodied conscience, and whose satisfaction is reward. But pleasing the dearest and purest among men can never be more than at most a crutch to help lameness or a spur to stimulate. If however this motive be lifted to the higher level, and these words thought of as Paul's echo of Christ's appeal to those who love Him, they beautifully express the peculiar blessedness of Christian ethics. The strongest motive, the very mainspring and pulsing heart of Christian duty, is to please Christ. His language to His followers is not, 'Do this because it is right,' but, 'Do this because it pleaseth Me,' They have a living Person to gratify, not a mere law of duty to obey. The help which is given to weakness by the hope of winning golden opinions from, or giving pleasure to, those whom men love is transferred in the Christian relation to Jesus. So the cold thought of duty is warmed, and the weight of obedience to a stony, impersonal law is lightened, and a new power is enlisted on the side of goodness, which sways more mightily than all the abstractions of duty. The Christ Himself makes His appeal to men in the same tender fashion as Paul to Philemon. He will move to holy obedience by the thought - wonderful as it is - that it gladdens Him. Many a weak heart has been braced and made capable of heroisms of endurance and effort, and of angel deeds of mercy, all beyond its own strength, by that great thought, 'We labour that, whether present or absent, we may be well-pleasing to Him.'"
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…
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