It is a joy to have an influence on someone spiritually, and it is encouraging to hear that person recount how precious their faith in Yeshua is. Even better than that, though, is to see them putting their faith into action. In this epistle, Paul is encouraging Philemon to do exactly that – to put his faith into action.
We begin by reading verse 1-7. All commentary is from the NKJV.
v1: Paul was literally in prison. Most commentators think he wrote this letter from the prison in Caesarea (Acts 23 -26)
· Timothy co-authored this letter with Paul.
· “brother” – Timothy is being held up here as a model of what a true brother looks like. Timothy was trusted, relied on and was extremely useful to Paul in helping him to share gospel truth.
· This letter is addressed to a man called Philemon – who was a fellow servant in the Kingdom. He was serious about his faith and even had a congregation in his home. As a leader it was very important for him to demonstrate (model) his faith.
· Paul addresses Philemon as ‘beloved’ – a term of great endearment.
v2: Beloved Apphia – a woman (possibly Philemon’s wife)
· Archippus – a warrior/contender for the faith (Col 4:17)
· the church…Paul is addressing Philemon but is also involving the whole church in what is going to be a very personal matter. In this book we get a very intimate glimpse into the way Paul interacted with others.
v3: Grace produces peace (peace=the fulfilment of G-d’s will)
· G-d the Father provided peace to us through Yeshua. Because of Yeshua we can have peace with G-d.
v4: It is always such an encouragement to know people are praying for us. This verse reveals to us that Paul had a very close relationship with Philemon. Paul loved him (called him ‘beloved’) and Paul was concerned about his wellbeing (prayed for him)
v5: Philemon has a good reputation with outsiders (1 Tim 3:7) – he acted in love: love for Yeshua and love for others. Here he is being commended for fulfilling the two greatest commandments (Matt 22:36-40). If we truly love G-d, if our love for Him is genuine, it will manifest itself in love for others.
v6: If we are going to have an effective faith we need to demonstrate the L-rdship of Yeshua in our lives. The things we do need to be done in obedience to the truth of G-d. Our lives, lived in this way, become living sacrifices – we live for His desires and not for ours. (Romans 12)
v7: ‘Consolation’ also means comfort. Paul is encouraged and comforted when he thinks about Philemon. Philemon has always acted correctly in the past, and Paul is anticipating that Philemon is going to keep on acting correctly and in a G-dly manner into the future. Paul hasn’t even brought up his request yet, but he is laying a foundation and reminding Philemon of the testimony he has already “achieved”- in anticipation that Philemon will make the right decision going forward.
· By using the word ” brother” here Paul is appealing to Philemon to behave like a brother.