as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.
I. SALUTATIONS. These are the expressions of Christian sympathy and kindness.
1. They are the salutations of the apostle's fellow-prisoner. "There salute thee Epaphras my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus."
(1) Epaphras was a Colossian evangelist (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12).
(2) He was imprisoned at Rome in the immediate society of the apostle.
(a) This was an alleviation to both prisoners, on account of their common faith, their common hopes, and their common interests. Epaphras, as probably the younger man, would be very helpful to the apostle.
(b) The cause of the imprisonment in both cases was "in Christ Jesus." They suffered for the preaching of his gospel.
2. They are the salutations of the apostle's fellow-laborers. "Marcus" (Acts 12:12), once temporarily estranged from the apostle, but now at his side; "Aristarchus" (Acts 19:29, 30; Colossians 4:10); "Demas," whose apostasy was yet future (2 Timothy 4:10); "Luke," the beloved physician and evangelist (Colossians 4:14). The apostle was happily circumstanced, even as a prisoner, through the constant or occasional society of these men.
II. PRAYER. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." It is curious to find no allusion to God the Father in this prayer. If Christ is not God, how can we account for such a prayer? It is a simple but beautiful prayer addressed to the whole Philemon household. - T.C.
There salute thee
1. Rest on faith and a confession of the one true Church of the Lord.
2. Are an expression of the feeling of our communion, of our higher, heavenly relationship in the family of God.
3. Furnish significant proofs of Christian love.
(Nitzsch.)I. We see the apostle setteth down A SALUTATION PROCEEDING FROM OTHERS which teacheth that salutations are an ordinary means ordained of God to nourish and cherish mutual love, and that union and conjunction which the members of Christ's body have one with another.
II. Albeit the apostle were a prisoner for the faith's sake, yet GOD DOTH NOT LEAVE HIM ALONE. Thus we see the endless mercy of God towards His afflicted and distressed servants, He raiseth them up some comfort, verifying the promise made to His Church, "If I depart, I will send the Comforter unto you." He knoweth our infirmities, He seeth how ready we are to yield and slide back, and therefore as He strengtheneth us by others, so He maketh us means to strengthen others.
III. He calleth Epaphras A PRISONER OF CHRIST, as he also had called himself before in the beginning of this Epistle. The reason is, because he had preached Christ. There might haply be others in the same prison who might suffer as malefactors, and justly deserve the restraint of the prison, but such were none of Paul's fellow prisoners. Hereby we learn that persecutions often follow the sincere preaching of the gospel, not that it is the property of the gospel, but the cause is the malice of such as will not receive the gospel, and therefore they hate and persecute those that believe in Christ and give entertainment to the gospel. This is it our Savior teacheth (Matthew 10:34, 35). So, then, let us not think it a strange thing when we see such tumults arise, but arm ourselves with patience. Learn to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, and condemn those that are the authors and beginners of those broils and contentions.
IV. Observe the titles that he giveth unto our Lord and Saviour — HE DESCRIBETH HIM BY TWO NAMES, First he calleth Him Christ, then he calleth Him Jesus. Christ signifieth as much as anointed. Under the Law the priests were anointed (Exodus 30:30); so were the kings (1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Samuel 16:13); and the prophets (1 Kings 19:16). Christ is the true anointed Priest, King, and Prophet of His Church (Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38), and the only person that had all these offices, and therefore is said to be anointed with the oil of gladness above all His fellows (Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9; John 3:34). From this title it is that we are called Christians (Acts 11:26; Psalm 105:15). Jesus importeth as much as a Saviour, who was so called because He sayeth His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). From whence observe that Christ is the King, the Prophet, and the Priest of His Church, to govern us, to teach us, to redeem us, to save us. This is His office, for these ends and uses He was anointed of the Father with the Spirit of God itself. This serveth to our great good, and the benefit of it is communicated unto us; He maketh us kings and priests to God His Father (Revelation 1:6). He armeth us with power and strength against sin, the flesh, the world, the devil, and maketh us able to overcome them. Through Him we have access to the Father, and may boldly appear in His sight, and offer up our prayers with assurance. Yea, He enableth us to offer up ourselves, our souls, and bodies, an holy, lively, and acceptable sacrifice unto Him, which is our reasonable serving of Him. He doth instruct us in the will of His Father, enlighten us in the knowledge of the truth, and maketh us, as it were, His household disciples and scholars to reveal unto us all things needful for our salvation. Let us therefore confess Him to be the only Son of God, perfect God and perfect Man, the sole Mediator between God and man.
V. Observe that speaking of Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, HE CALLETH THEM HIS FELLOW HELPERS; whereby he putteth the ministers of the gospel and all the children of God in mind to be helpers to the truth, and to further the preaching and propagation of the gospel by all possible means that God hath enabled them. This reproveth those that employ their wits and bestow their strength to hinder the truth and the professors thereof. These have no part nor fellowship in the ministration, nor in the sound profession of the gospel, but are professed enemies to the faith of Christ. Moreover, this shall minister unspeakable comfort unto us to consider that we have been helpers to the truth and furtherers of the faith which is in Christ Jesus, we shall leave a good name behind us, and receive an incorruptible crown of eternal glory.
(W. Attersoll.)I. Our well wishing one to another is a fruit of our love, and a means to maintain and continue love among us. If we would maintain love, we must wisely and carefully entertain such helps as may further us in the performance of that duty, whereof this that now we speak of is one, so that we are to express our inward love by outward tokens, to the end that it may be seen and appear unto others.
II. Our salutations are remembrances of our care and good affections toward those whom we greet well. It is a sign that we are not forgetful of them, but do greatly regard and respect them.
III. To desire the good of others from the heart is both a fruit of the Spirit and a good sign and testimony to our own selves that we are chosen of God to eternal life.
1. We learn that courtesy with civil, gentle, friendly, and soft speeches are to be entertained of the servants of God. A fire is soonest quenched by water, and anger is soonest appeased by gentleness. Let us plant this in the garden of our hearts, and learn to give good speeches one to another, and show a friendly countenance, even to them that wrong us and abuse us, without any purpose or desire to revenge. This is a virtue hard to be found in these days among the sons of men, they cannot speak well one of another. This gentleness that teacheth us to deal courteously toward each other is thinly sown in the furrows of our hearts. Wherefore, we must know that humanity and courteous dealing are not, as some imagine, excluded from Christians, as if nothing should be in them but rigour and austerity. Indeed they are to deal roughly and rigorously with wilful and wicked men that are offensive and unruly, but we must be gentle, meek, and lowly toward such as are willing to be instructed. Let us therefore accustom our tongues to civility, to blessing, and wishing all good one to another. This becometh our profession, and witnesseth to all the world that we are of pure conversation.
2. This doctrine serveth for reproof of divers and sundry abuses that are too rife and common among us. It seemeth a light and ridiculous thing to many to salute and to be saluted, but it is of great force, and availeth much to the obtaining and getting of good will. It is a point of courtesy and humanity to salute others and to pray for them. Let no man say these are very small matters to be spoken of and stood upon. We must acknowledge that our obedience is to be showed even in the least, and not in the greatest matters only. And a true Christian is to be seen and known when he will yield in the practise of lesser points and such as are not of greatest importance.
3. Seeing we are taught to use all gentle and courteous communication, and all loving salutations and well-wishing one toward another, this teacheth us that we must all diligently study and practise the government of the tongue, to order it aright and in due manner. This is a worthy study, it is a hard study, it is a profitable study (Psalm 34:12, 13; Psalm 39:1). To this purpose the apostle teacheth us to be slow to speak and swift to hear. This virtue appeared notably in Elihu (Job 32), who waited till Job had spoken, for they were more ancient in years than he. In our speaking we must be careful that our words be gracious, and seasoned with wisdom, truth, reverence, modesty, meekness, and sobriety, as it were with salt, which are contrary to the foolish, rotten, and graceless talk that aboundeth in our days, wherein men are grown to be very beasts (Romans 3:13, 14).
(J. W. Diggle.)
PeopleApphia, Archippus, Aristarchus, Demas, Epaphras, Lucas, Luke, Marcus, Mark, Onesimus, Paul, Philemon, Timotheus, Timothy
TopicsAristarchus, Aristar'chus, Brother-workers, Demas, Fellow, Fellow-laborers, Fellowlabourers, Fellow-workers, Fellow-workmen, Lucas, Lukas, Luke, Marcus, Mark, Markus, Workers
Outline1. Paul rejoices to hear of the faith and love of Philemon,
8. whom he desires to forgive his servant Onesimus, and lovingly to receive him again.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesPhilemon 1:24
LibraryThe Epistles of the Captivity.
During his confinement in Rome, from a.d. 61 to 63, while waiting the issue of his trial on the charge of being "a mover of insurrections among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5), the aged apostle composed four Epistles, to the Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon, and Philippians. He thus turned the prison into a pulpit, sent inspiration and comfort to his distant congregations, and rendered a greater service to future ages than he could have …
Philip Schaff—History of the Christian Church, Volume I
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