Philemon 1-212018-02-27T09:43:50+00:00

Biblical Commentary
(Bible Study)

Philemon 1-21

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Philemon 1-21 Biblical Commentary

THE CONTEXT:

This is a story that includes a (more than likely) runaway slave, Onesimus, who has come to know Paul in Rome, was converted by Paul to the Christian faith by Paul, and rendered voluntary service to Paul in his Roman imprisonment.  Paul encourages Onesimus to return to Philemon, his former master, which will make this a difficult story for many people.

However, Paul encourages Philemon to receive Onesimus as a beloved brother in the faith rather than a slave—and he asks Philemon to return Onesimus to Rome so that he might help Paul.  While Paul doesn’t explicitly request that Philemon set Onesimus free, he does elevate Onesimus’ status to one of brother rather than menial servant.

Slavery was permitted in most countries at that time, including Israel.  Various circumstances could lead to slavery, including being born of a slave, captured in battle, unable to pay one’s debt, or breaking into someone’s home.  Slaves could be bought, sold, and beaten.

However, Jewish law provided certain protections for slaves that were not common in most nations of that day.  A master who beat a slave to death was subject to punishment (Exodus 21:20).  A master who permanently injured a slave was required to release that slave (Exodus 21-26-27).  A man who married a woman who was taken captivity in war and then became dissatisfied with her was not permitted to sell her, but was required to set her free (Deuteronomy 21:10-14).  An Israelite who became a slave of another Israelite could be enslaved for no more than six years (Exodus 21:2).

Paul doesn’t question the validity of slavery, but he does call Philemon to greet Onesimus as a Christian brother—and to allow that relationship to supersede that of master and slave.

In this letter, Paul may have been practicing “The Art of the Possible.”  He couldn’t abolish slavery, but he could persuade Philemon to treat Onesimus with brotherly love. Rather than asserting his apostolic authority, he entreats Philemon to tread lightly—lovingly—with Onesimus.

Based on Colossians 4:7-9, it seems likely that Paul wrote the letters to Philemon and Colossae at about the same time and had them delivered by the same person at the same place.

PHILEMON 1-3.  PAUL AND TIMOTHY TO PHILEMON

1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon, our beloved fellow worker, 2 to the beloved Apphia, to Archippus, our fellow soldier, and to the assembly in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus” (v. 1a).  Paul describes himself, not as a prisoner of Rome, but as a prisoner of Christ Jesus.  Following his Damascus road experience with Christ, he had devoted his life to Christ.  He had enjoyed considerable status as a Pharisee, but said:

“However, what things were gain to me,
these have I counted loss for Christ.
Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be loss
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord,
for whom I suffered the loss of all things,
and count them nothing but refuse,
that I may gain Christ, and be found in him” (Philippians 3:7-9).

Paul had suffered many things for Christ (Acts 9:28; 13:50; 14:4, 19; 16:22; 21:30; 22:22; 23:1-10; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 2 Corinthians 4:8-12; 11:16-28; 2 Timothy 2:9; 3:10-13).

So it is no wonder that he speaks of being a prisoner of Christ.  Any hardship or imprisonment that he might suffer is simply the natural consequence of his servitude to Christ.

Paul was imprisoned on several occasions—initially in Philippi by the high priest and other Jewish leaders (Acts 5:17-18; 21:27-30), but later (at the instigation of Jews) by the Romans (Acts 16:19ff; 21:31ff).  He may have been imprisoned in Ephesus.  The Romans took him via Caesarea (Acts 24:1ff) to Rome (Acts 28:11ff).  Paul described himself as “an ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:20).

This letter to Philemon was probably written from Rome—although it could have been written from Ephesus.

“and Timothy our brother” (v. 1b).  Timothy was Paul’s faithful co-worker.  He was raised in Lystra by a Greek father and a Jewish-Christian mother, and became an important leader in the Lystran church.  He accompanied Paul from Lystra to Macedonia.  Paul sent him to visit churches, both to assess the pastoral needs of those churches and to teach and encourage them.  Paul wrote two pastoral letters to Timothy (1-2 Timothy) as a spiritual father to a spiritual son.  His letters to Timothy include both instruction and encouragement.

“to Philemon, our beloved fellow worker” (v. 1c).  We have reason to believe that Philemon was from Colossae.  We know that he was one of Paul’s converts (v. 19).  Philemon hosted a church in his home (v. 2).  Paul addresses him as “our beloved fellow worker” (v. 1c).  He says, “We have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother”—high praise (v. 7).

“to the beloved Apphia” (v. 2a).  The Greek text that I consulted reads, Apphia ho adelphe (“to Apphia our sister”).  This has led some people to assume that Apphia is Philemon’s wife, but that is far from certain.

“to Archippus, our fellow soldier” (v. 2b).  Paul also mentions Archippus in the closing verses of his letter to Colossae, saying, “Tell Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it'” (Colossians 4:17).  We don’t know the nature of that ministry.

We know little more about Archippus except for two traditions—the first that he was one of the 72 disciples appointed by Jesus (Luke 10:1)—and the second that he was the first bishop of Laodicea.

“and to the assembly (Greek:  ekklesia) in your house” (v. 2c).  The Greek word ekklesia (assembly or church) is comprised of two words, ek (out) and kalein (to call)—so it means “to call out”—or “those who are called out.”

We usually use the word “church” to translate ekklesia, although the World English Bible uses the word “assembly.”

This verse tells us that Philemon hosted the Colossian church in his home.  However, this letter is addressed to Philemon rather than to the church at large.

“Grace (Greek: charis) to you and peace (Greek: eirene) from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 3).  Paul characteristically links grace and peace as a special form of blessing in the opening of his letters (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4)

• Grace (charis) involves the giving and receiving of something that has the potential to bless both giver and receiver.  The classic definition of grace is “the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.”  However, grace can take many forms.  When used in the salutation of a letter, as it is here, I would imagine that Paul would intend charis to embrace those many forms.

• Peace (Greek: eirene) has its roots in the Hebrew word shalom—which speaks of an inner kind of peace—the kind of well-being that is derived from a deep relationship with God.

But notice that, unlike most of his letters, Paul doesn’t mention his apostolic authority in these introductory verses—and he mentions it only very lightly in verse 8.  As noted above, that is probably because he is taking a soft approach to Philemon, who might take offense at a stronger approach.

PHILEMON 4-7.  I THANK MY GOD ALWAYS FOR YOUR LOVE AND FAITH

4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, 5 hearing of your love, and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints; 6 that the fellowship of your faith may become effective, in the knowledge of every good thing which is in us in Christ Jesus. 7 For we have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.

“I thank my God always” (v. 4a).  Paul often includes thanksgiving in his letters.  In verse 5, he will tell Philemon that for which he is thankful.

“making mention of you in my prayers” (v. 4b).  Paul includes Philemon in his prayers.  In verse 6, he will give Philemon an idea of the content of those prayers.

“hearing of your love (Greek: agape), and of the faith (Greek: pistis) which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints” (Greek: hagios) (v. 5).  Paul doesn’t specify how he learned of Philemon’s love and faith.  Of course, he would have observed Philemon in Colossae, but it seems likely that Epaphras, “a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf” (Colossians 1:7; see also Colossians 4:12) was the messenger.  Paul mentions Epaphras in the closing verses of this letter as “my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus” (v. 23).

“Love.” Agape love is more a “doing” than a “feeling” word.  It doesn’t require that we approve of the actions of the person whom we love—or even that we enjoy their company.  It does require that we act in behalf of that person—to demonstrate our love in some practical fashion.

“Faith.” In the New Testament, pistis (faith) has to do with the person’s response to the kerygma (the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ).  In other words, Christian faith is faith in the Lord Jesus—steering the ship of our lives by Jesus’ star.

“Saints.” The Greek word hagios literally means “holy one.”  While we usually reserve the word “saints” to refer to those who have been canonized by the church as saints, the New Testament uses hagios to mean ordinary Christians (Acts 9:13, 41; Romans 1:7; 12:13; 15:26; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1, etc.).  By that standard, the people who sit in the pews alongside us are saints—and so are we.

The word “saints” comes from the Latin sanctus, which means “sacred.”  The concept of canonized saints as a separate category of especially virtuous Christians is not found in the New Testament, but was established nearly a thousand years later when Pope John XV canonized the first Roman Catholic saint in January 993 A.D.

“that the fellowship (Greek: koinonia) of your faith may become effective, in the knowledge of every good thing which is in us in Christ Jesus” (v. 6).  This is Paul’s prayer for Philemon.

Just as the word agape (love, v. 5) implies some sort of action in behalf of the beloved, so also does koinonia, which can be translated fellowship or sharing.  Although Philemon is apparently more affluent than most, Paul’s prayer in this verse emphasizes sharing his faith rather than his money—although sharing financially is certainly in keeping with agape love (v. 5).

As Philemon shares his faith, he will understand more deeply “the knowledge of every good thing which is in us in Christ Jesus.”

“For we have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed (Greek: anapauo) through you, brother” (v. 7).  Paul takes comfort in the fact that Philemon’s love has helped his fellow believers to find anapauo—rest or refreshment.  That was especially important in that day, when the church was still small and subject to harassment on many fronts.

Rest and refreshment are still important today.  Joseph Parker advised, “Preach to the suffering, and you will never lack a congregation.  There is a broken heart in every pew.” And so there is.

PHILEMON 8-11.  FOR LOVE’S SAKE

8 Therefore, though I have all boldness in Christ to command you that which is appropriate, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather beg, being such a one as Paul, the aged, but also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. 10 I beg you for my child, whom I have become the father of in my chains, Onesimus, 11 who once was useless to you, but now is useful to you and to me.

“Therefore, though I have all boldness in Christ to command you that which is appropriate” (v. 8).  For the first time in this letter, Paul mentions his authority as an apostle and the one who brought Philemon to Christ.

“yet for love’s sake I rather beg (Greek: parakaleo), being such a one as Paul, the aged (Greek: presbutes), but also a prisoner of Jesus Christ” (v. 9).  But Paul doesn’t lean on his authority, but rather comes to Philemon with a plea.  He mentioned Philemon’s love earlier (v. 4).  Now he bases his appeal on love.

The Greek word parakaleo combines two Greek words—para (to the side of) and kaleo (to call).  It means to call, exhort, or urge.  Beg is too strong a word—too groveling.  Paul is capable of using various strategies to influence people, but he never grovels.

But in this verse Paul leans on his own vulnerability to persuade Philemon.  Paul is both an old man and a prisoner.  Paul is Philemon’s spiritual father, so Philemon can hardly fail to be touched by Paul’s current circumstances.  Paul is pulling out all the stops—using everything at his disposal—to get Philemon to honor his plea.  However, he stops short of groveling.  Paul isn’t feeling sorry for himself, and Philemon surely understands that.

But note the similarity between presbutes (old or aged) and presbuteros (an old man, an elder, or an ambassador).  The two words are not only similar, but are closely related.  It would be quite appropriate to translate this as “Paul the elder” or “Paul the ambassador” rather than “Paul the aged.”

“I beg (parakaleo) you for my child, whom I have become the father of in my chains, Onesimus”(v. 10).  Just as Paul is Philemon’s spiritual father, so he is also Onesimus’ spiritual father.  While Paul won’t mention this until verse 16, the fact that he is both men’s father makes Philemon and Onesimus brothers—brothers in Christ.

“who once was useless to you, but now is useful to you and to me” (v. 11).

The name Onesimus means “useful,” and was a common name for a slave who proved himself useful.  However, he became useless to Philemon when he left Philemon’s service.  He has proven useful to Paul in his imprisonment.  Now Paul is returning him to Philemon, who can once again find Onesimus useful—although verses 12-14 seem to constitute a veiled plea that Philemon will send Onesimus back to serve Paul in prison.

PHILEMON 12-16.  I AM SENDING ONESIMUS BACK

12 I am sending him back. Therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I desired to keep with me, that on your behalf he might serve me in my chains for the Good News. 14 But I was willing to do nothing without your consent, that your goodness would not be as of necessity, but of free will. 15 For perhaps he was therefore separated from you for a while, that you would have him forever, 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much rather to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

“I am sending him back. Therefore receive him, that is, my own heart” (Greek: splanchnon—the seat of one’s emotions) (v. 12).

I consulted two Greek texts and don’t find the words “Therefore receive him.”  A better translation would be “I am sending him back to you as a part of my heart.”  Paul is telling Philemon how emotionally invested he is in Onesimus so that Philemon will feel obligated to treat Onesimus in a kindly fashion.

By the time Philemon reads Paul’s letter, Onesimus will be present with him once again.

“whom I desired to keep with me, that on your behalf he might serve me in my chains for the Good News” (v. 13).  Paul wanted to keep Onesimus with him so that Onesimus might serve Paul in his chains.  Paul reminds Philemon that he is in chains because of the Gospel.  He is being punished for his faithfulness rather than any misbehavior.

We aren’t told what service Philemon might render Paul—or what restrictions they might labor under.  However, Paul would clearly benefit by having someone to deliver a message—or to obtain paper and pens—or to perform any number of tasks, great or small.  When a person has lost the option of moving about, any help would be highly significant.

Paul tells Philemon that he had thought of keeping Onesimus to serve him on Philemon’s behalf.  In saying this, Paul assumes that Philemon would have been there to help him if that were possible.  He has learned that Onesimus can serve as a good stand-in for Philemon.

“But I was willing to do nothing without your consent, that your goodness would not be as of necessity, but of free will” (v. 14).  While Paul might like to assume that Philemon would allow Onesimus to stay at Paul’s side, Philemon might misinterpret any failure on Paul’s part to encourage Onesimus to stay with him.  If Onesimus is, indeed, a runaway slave, Paul would be guilty of aiding and abetting a fugitive from the law if he kept Onesimus without permission.  Paul is anxious to deal with Philemon considerately, which requires getting Philemon’s voluntary consent for Onesimus to stay with Paul.

“For perhaps he was therefore separated from you for a while, that you would have him forever”(v. 15).  It is as if God has designed a plan that would benefit everyone—Paul, Onesimus, and Philemon.

• The benefit to Paul is that Onesimus has been able to help Paul in his imprisonment.

• The benefit to Onesimus is that he has found Christ as savior—and Paul and Philemon as brothers.

• The benefit to Philemon is that, while he lost Onesimus for a period of time, he stands to regain him permanently.

“no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much rather to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord” (v. 16).  But the person who returns to Philemon will be in a very different relationship than before.  Where he was once only a slave, and not a very happy one, he is now a brother in Christ both to Paul and to Philemon.

This verse falls short of asking Philemon to emancipate Onesimus, but it does require him to consider Paul’s deep affection for Onesimus when deciding how to treat his returned slave.  It also requires him to reflect on the fact that Onesimus is now a Christian, and is therefore Philemon’s brother.  How can Philemon require a brother to also serve as a slave?  It won’t be impossible, but their relationship will certainly be altered in a positive and permanent way.

PHILEMON 17-21.  RECEIVE HIM AS YOU WOULD RECEIVE ME

17 If then you count me a partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 But if he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, put that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self besides). 20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in the Lord. 21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even beyond what I say.

“If then you count me a partner” (Greek: koinonos) (v. 17a).  Note the similarity between koinonos (partner or companion) with koinonia (fellowship or sharing).  Both words suggest an intimacy that evolves from a deep personal relationship.

“receive him as you would receive me” (v. 17b).  Paul is not asking that Philemon treat Onesimus as a partner, although he has already identified Onesimus as Philemon’s brother, an even closer relationship.

But Paul is telling Philemon that, if he counts Paul as his partner, he should receive Onesimus back into his home as he would receive Paul.  If it were Paul returning to Philemon’s home, he would find a warm welcome, an affectionate greeting, a sumptuous dinner, and a comfortable bed.  He is telling Philemon to welcome Onesimus in the same manner.

“But if he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, put that to my account” (v. 18).  If Onesimus was, indeed, a runaway slave, Philemon suffered a loss at his departure.  If Onesimus stole money or property from Philemon as he was leaving—or even prior to his leaving—Philemon would have suffered an additional loss. In any event, Philemon could claim financial and personal injury based on Onesimus’ behavior.

Paul acknowledges that Onesimus has wronged Philemon, but he asks Philemon to put it to his (Paul’s) account—to let Paul carry the debt.

“I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self besides)” (v. 19).  It is possible that Paul has written this entire letter with his own hand, but it seems more likely that he has followed his usual practice of using a secretary, and has taken the pen for emphasis to write this verse.

Paul promises to repay whatever injury that Onesimus has caused Philemon.  While it seems unlikely that a prisoner could raise the money to repay any significant debt, Paul could appeal to Christians of churches he has founded to donate money for that purpose.  No doubt, if Philemon requested payment, Paul would do everything in his power to comply.

But Paul makes it unlikely that Philemon would make such a request, saying, “not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self besides.”  It was by Paul’s ministry that Philemon became a Christian.  Philemon owes Paul for the person he has become.  He owes Paul for the salvation he has received.  If Paul might find it difficult to repay Philemon for any debt that Onesimus has incurred, Philemon would find it impossible to repay Paul for what Paul has done for him.

“Yes, brother, let me have joy (Greek: oninemi) from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in the Lord”(Greek: Christos—Christ) (v. 20).  The Greek word oninemi has more to do with usefulness or profitability or gratification than with joy.  Paul is appealing to Philemon to give him some sort of profit or gratification—in other words, some sort of payback for Philemon’s spiritual debt to Paul.

Furthermore, there is a wordplay in this verse that you can’t see by reading an English translation.  Note the similarity between the name of the returning slave, Onesimus, and the Greek word oninemi (gratification).  Paul was a highly educated man, so we be sure that this play on words was intentional.

“Having confidence in your obedience (Greek: hupakoe), I write to you, knowing that you will do even beyond what I say” (v. 21).  The Greek word hupakoe is softer than our word obedience.  Paul hasn’t issued orders to Philemon, but has only pled the case that Philemon should receive Onesimus as a brother and a beloved friend of Paul’s.  Now, in this verse, Paul is saying that he is confident that Philemon will comply with his request.  Compliance with a request is different from obedience to an order—softer, less demanding—easier for Philemon to accept.

Paul further expresses his confidence that Philemon will not only comply with his request, but will go even beyond what Paul has requested.

PHILEMON 22-25.  PREPARE A GUEST ROOM FOR ME

22 Also, prepare a guest room for me, for I hope that through your prayers I will be restored to you.

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

“Also, prepare a guest room for me, for I hope that through your prayers I will be restored to you” (v. 22).  Throughout this letter, Paul has used every strategy at his disposal to change Philemon’s view of Onesimus from slave to brother—and to persuade Philemon to receive Onesimus in a kindly and generous manner.

This verse strikes me as a final tightening of the screw.  Paul hopes to return to Colossae, and asks Philemon to prepare a guest room for him.  In other words, “Philemon, I plan to see you again, so this letter isn’t the last word you will hear on this subject.”  Paul doesn’t take it nearly to that point in this verse, but that is the underlying message.

“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers” (v. 23-24).

“Epaphras.”  As noted above in the comments on verse 5, it seems likely that Epaphras, “a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf” (Colossians 1:7; see also Colossians 4:12) was the messenger who told Paul about Philemon’s love and faith.  This verse identifies him as Paul’s “fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus.”

“Mark.”  This would be probably be John Mark, but we can’t be certain.  If so, this represents a reconciliation.  John Mark parted company with Paul on one of Paul’s missionary journeys, and Paul refused to take him on his next journey (Acts 13:13; 15:37).

“Aristarchus” is mentioned three times in the book of Acts.  He was one of Paul’s companions seized by an angry crowd in Ephesus (Acts 19:29).  He was one of seven men who “accompanied (Paul) as far as Asia” (20:4).  He was identified as “a Macedonian of Thessalonica” who was with Paul on a ship carrying Paul and other prisoners (Acts 27:2).

“Demas” will later come to love this world too much, and will leave Paul (2 Timothy 4:10).

“Luke” was a physician (Colossians 4:14) and a traveling companion of Paul (2 Timothy 4:11).

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen” (v. 23).  This is a typical closing note for Paul.

SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

William Barclay, Daily Study Bible: The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2003)

Bruce, F. F., The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984)

Cousar, Charles B. in Cousar, Charles B., Gaventa, Beverly R., McCann, J. Clinton, and Newsome, James D., Texts for Teaching:  A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV–Year C (Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 1994)

Dunham, Maxie D., The Preacher’s Commentary: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982)

Felder, Cain Hope, The New Interpreter’s Bible:  Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, Jude, Revelation  (Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 2015)

Gagnon, Robert A. J., in Van Harn, Roger E. (ed.), The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday’s Texts: The Second Readings: Acts and the Epistles (Grand Rapids:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001)

Holladay, Carl R., Craddock, Fred B., Hayes, John H., Holladay, Carl R., and Tucker, Gene M., Preaching Through the Christian Year C (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 1994)

Martin, Ralph P., Interpretation:  Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon (Atlanta:  John Knox Press, 1991)

John MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary:  Philemon (Chicago:  The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1992)

Martin, Earnest D., Believers Church Bible Commentary: Philemon, (Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 1993)

Melick, Richard R., Jr., New American Commentary:  Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Vol. 32 (Nashville:  Broadman Press, 1991)

O’Brien, Peter T., Word Biblical Commentary:  Colossians, Philemon, Vol. 44 (Dallas: Word Books, 1982)

Still, Todd D., Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary: Philippians & Philemon (Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc., 2011)

Wright, N.T., Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Colossians and Philemon, Vol. 10 (Downers Grove, Illinois:  InterVarsity Press, 1986)

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Copyright 2016, Richard Niell Donovan