Paul had made his plea for Onesimus and now makes intercession for his child whom he had begotten in his imprisonment. Paul was under a form of house arrest, a privilege granted to him since he was a Roman citizen and had appealed to Caesar. Nevertheless Paul considered himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ, for the gospel of Christ.
17 If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well). 20 Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.
21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.
22 At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.
25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
V.17 “If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me.”
Paul had received the gospel as a direct revelation from The Lord and our Lord Jesus taught, “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”
Christ paid too heavy of a price for us to pick and choose who should be allowed to come into our churches and fellowships. Receive all those who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord and accept them as you would The Lord. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
V.18 “But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account;”
Paul is making intercession for Onesimus by taking on the debt which Onesimus could not repay, just as Christ took on the debt of our transgressions that we could never repay and makes intercession for us to God through Him.
“Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
V.19 “I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well).”
Paul often wrote his greeting in his own hand it was a distinguishing mark of his epistles, but here he took up the pen and in his own hand promises to repay Philemon. Paul’s penmanship must have been identifiable at first glance, many have attributed this to poor eyesight and that is likely for he did write in large letters.
“See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.”
“I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write.”
2 Thessalonians 3:17
“…not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well.”
Philemon most likely was converted to Christianity by Paul himself during his stay in Ephesus with Timothy which is why Timothy’s name was joined with his in the greeting of this epistle. There is a spiritual debt owed by converts to those who led them to The Lord and taught them the Word of God. As The Lord taught, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”
V.20 “Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.”
The Greek word translated here as “benefit” is ὀνίνημι, Transliteration oninēmi, Pronunciation
o-nē’-nā-mē, literally means to be useful, to profit or be helped. This is the only time that this Greek word is used in the Bible and this usage is clearly a play on the name Onesimus Ὀνήσιμος meaning profitable or useful.
So you could say that Paul is saying, “Let me profit from you in The Lord by taking back Profitable.”
V.21 “Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.”
Paul has interceded for Onesimus, but he did not command that Philemon free Onesimus from slavery. Paul expresses his confidence that Philemon will be obedient to his counsel, obedient to The Lord, obedient to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and do even more than he had expressed in words.
V.22 “At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.”
Paul has ended his appeal and counsel regarding Onesimus and moves on to his hope to be released from imprisonment. In essence he is saying, “Get a room ready I’m coming to see you because God has heard your prayers and granted your petition.”
In his epistle to the church at Philippi Paul made a similar assertion that he would be freed from his imprisonment, “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ”
Paul was a man of prayer and I find over and over in the Scripture where God uses men of prayer. We should pray the prayer of faith and hope with all our hearts, but we also must submit to the perfect divine will of God for our lives. We may not understand why things happen as they do in this world because we can not see the big picture. We are so limited in our earthy perspective, so caught up in our own little world that we can not see the grand design by the Intelligent Designer of the universe.
Paul was delivered from his first imprisonment around the year 63AD and he did ask for and appreciate the fervent prayers of the Saints who unceasingly made petitions, intercession and thanksgiving for him. However he was subsequently rearrested in the fourteenth year of Nero, 68AD and executed in Rome.
Vs. 23-25 “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
Compare with the greeting found in the epistle to the Colossians. The same men are mentioned with an insight into what these men of God prayed for.
“Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.”
“…that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.”
It is impossible to stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God if we have not been instructed either by word of mouth or in writing. We just can not do what seems good in our own sight, but rather we need to do what is pleasing in His sight for nothing is hidden from God.
“For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.”
1 Thessalonians 4:2-6
“We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
Beloved remember the words of Our Lord, “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
V.25 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
That amazing grace in which God demonstrated His Loving-kindness to us. The Apostles and New Testament writers at the beginning and end of their epistles committed or commended their readers to the protecting and helping favor (grace) of God or of Christ from whom all spiritual blessings flow.
May the grace of The Lord give us peace to be gracious in this ungracious world. May we be a reflection of His glorious light in a dark age and may we find the grace to share His Word with someone today.