Page images

Julian Period, 4775,

Vulgar Æra,


whatever they did in all their Conversation, and in Rome.
every Action of their Lives-to do all in the Name and for
the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to offer up their
Praises and Thanks to God the Father, in his Name,
and by his Mediation, and not by that of Angels.

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and be-
loved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind,
meekness, long-suffering ;

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in
the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and
the Father by him.

$ 9.
COLOSS. iii. 18, to the end, and iv. 1.
The Apostle, from general Directions for their Christian
Conduct, proceeds to exhort them, on the same Principles
of Love and Obedience to Christ, to the Performance of
the relative Duties of Life. (See Eph. v. 22, 23. and
vi. 1-9.)

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,
as it is fit in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

24 Knowing, that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just


Julian Pe- and equal; knowing that ye also have a master in Rome.
riod, 4775. heaven.
Vulgar Era,


§ 10.

COLOSS. iv. 2-6.

The Apostle commands all, in their different Relations and
Stations in Life, that they may be enabled to fulfil their
respective Duties, to persevere in earnest Prayer to God,
guarding against Negligence and Inattention, and with
Thanksgiving acknowledge the Blessings they had re-
ceived-Praying also for the Apostles, that God would
open for them an Opportunity of preaching the Mystery
of the Gospel of Christ, the calling of the Gentiles
through Faith-for which very account he was now in
Bonds-that he may more effectually make this Mystery
manifest, and that he may have Courage to speak as it
becomes his Apostleship-He admonishes them to behave
with Prudence and Discretion to those who are without
the Pale of the Christian Church (the unbelieving Gen-
tiles and persecuting Jews), avoiding Persecutions, and
steadily improving every present Moment-Their Conver-
sation is to be Holy and Courteous, seasoned with the Salt
of Cheerfulness and spiritual Wisdom, resisting the Corrup-
tion of Sin, that they may know how to answer both Jew and
Gentile to their Edification, and to their own Security.
2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with

3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto
us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ,
for which I am also in bonds:

4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, re-
deeming the time.

6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with
salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
§ 11. COLOSS. iv. 7, to the end.

St. Paul sends Tychicus to relate to them in a more parti-
cular Manner his Situation and Circumstances at Rome,
(See Eph. vi. 21.) with Onesimus, who would also give
them every satisfactory Information-He presents the Sa-
lutations of the Brethren who were with him by Name,
and desires them to receive Marcus with all Respect and
Affection, and (compare Acts xv. 38, 39; and 2 Tim.
iv. 14.) Justus; for these only of the Circumcision had
been his fellow Labourers in preaching the Gospel in
Sincerity at Rome, and who had been a Consolation to
him (comp. Phil. i. 14—17.)-All the Gentile Teachers
with St. Paul at Rome join in Salutations-(Timothy
joined in writing the Letter)-He particularly mentions
Epaphras, their faithful Minister, as always striving in


Julian Period, 4775. Vulgar Æra, 62.

See Acts

xix. 29. xx.

4, &c. xxvii. 2.

+ Acts xv.

39. 2 Tim. iv. 11.

Prayer for them with God-He desires them to salute Rome.
in his Name the Christians in Laodicea, with Nymphas,
and the Church that is in his House-and, after this
Epistle had been publicly read among them, to take care
that it was also read in the Church of the Laodiceans,
and that the Epistle from Laodicea, which is supposed
to have been the Epistle to the Ephesians, was read in
their own Church-He encourages Archippus (officiat-
ing, perhaps, in the Absence of Epaphras) in the Work
of the Ministry committed to him, and then authenticates
the Epistle by writing the Salutation in his own Hand
(1 Cor. xvi. 21. and 2 Thess. iii. 17.)-He concludes
with the Apostolic Benediction.

7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is
a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow-
servant in the Lord;

8 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; 9 With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.

10 Aristarchus, my fellow-prisoner saluteth you, and Marcus †, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him ;)

11 And Jesus, which is called Justus; who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.

12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

13 For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.

14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.

16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that he likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.

[blocks in formation]



St. Paul writes his Epistle to his friend Philemon ", to inter

20 Philemon, to whom this epistle is addressed, was an inhabitant of Colosse, as appears from St. Paul's mentioning Onesimus in his Epistle to the Colossians (iv. 9.) as one of them, and also from his saluting Archippus in this epistle (ver. 2.), who appears, from Col. iv. 17. to have been a pastor of that Church. Philemon seems to have been a person of great worth as a man, and of some note as a citizen in his own country: for his family was so numerous, that it made a Church by itself, or at least a considerable part of the Church at Colosse (ver. 2). He was likewise so opulent, that he was able by the communication of his faith, that is, by his beneficence, to refresh the bowels of the saints (ver. 6, 7). According to Grotius, Philemon was an elder of Ephesus; Beausobre and Dr. Doddridge suppose him to have been one of the ministers of the Colossian Church; and from St. Paul's requesting him (ver. 22.) to provide a lodging for him at Colosse, Michaelis thinks that he was a deacon of that Church. These opinions appear to have been founded on the inscription of this epistle, where St. Paul calls him a follow-labourer. But this appellation, both Drs. Whitby, Lardder, and Macknight, have remarked, is of ambiguous signification; being given not only to those who were employed in preaching the Gospel, but also to such pious individuals, of either sex, as assisted the apostles in any manner. Hilary, the deacon, expressly calls him one of the laity; Theodoret, cumenius, and Theophylact, appear to be of the same opinion.

Philemon was most probably a converted Gentile, and, from the 19th verse of this epistle, it is generally supposed that he was converted under the ministry of St. Paul; but, from the apostle's saying, in the fifth verse, that he had heard of Philemon's faith in Christ, it is a disputed point with commentators.

We learn, from this epistle, that Onesimus was the slave of Philemon, whom he had probably robbed; though Macknight and Dr. Lardner are of opinion that St. Paul's expression, in ver. 18. does not insinuate that Onesimus had robbed his master of any thing but his service, and that he then ran away as far as Rome. Whether he repented of what he had done, and voluntarily went to St. Paul, or in what other manner they came to meet there, we have no information. But the apostle, during his confinement "in his own hired house," opened a way to the heart of the rude slave, converted him to the Christian faith, and baptized him. It also appears that St. Paul kept Onesimus with him for some time, to wait upon himself, until Onesimus, by his conduct, confirmed the truth and sincerity of his conversion. During his abode with the apostle, he served him with the greatest assiduity and affection: but, being sensible of his fault in running away from his master, he wished to repair that injury by returning to him. At the same time being afraid lest, on his return, his master should inflict upon him the punishment of torture, or death, which by the law or custom of Phrygia he was empowered to do to a fugitive slave, he entreated St. Paul to write to Philemon in his behalf, and request him to forgive and receive him again into his family. The apostle therefore wrote this Epistle to Philemon, "in which with the greatest softness of expression, warmth of affection, and delicacy of address, he not only interceded for Onesimus's



Julian Period, 4775. Vulgar Æra, 62.

cede with him in favour of his Slave Onesimus, who had Rome.

pardon, but urged Philemon to esteem him, and put confidence
in him as a sincere Christian. And because restitution, by re-
pairing the injury that has been done, restores the person who
did the injury to the character which he had lost; the apostle, to
enable Onesimus to appear in Philemon's family with some de-
gree of reputation, bound himself in this epistle by his hand-writ-
ing, not only to repay all that Onesimus owed to Philemon, but to
make full reparation also to Philemon for whatever injury he had
done to him by running away." To account for the solicitude
expressed by St. Paul in this epistle, in order to obtain One-
simus's pardon, and procure a thorough reconciliation, it is not
necessary to suppose, with come critics, that Philemon was
keen and obstinate in his resentments, or of that rough and
intractable disposition for which the Phrygians were pro-
verbial. The contrary is insinuated by the apostle, who has
in other places commended his benevolence and charity. It is
most probable, as Dr. Macknight has conjectured, that Phile-
mon had a number of slaves, on whom the pardoning of Onesi-
mus too easily might have had a bad effect; and therefore he
might judge some punishment necessary as an example to the
rest. At least St. Paul could not have considered the pardon-
ing of Onesimus as an affair that merited so much earnest en-
treaty, with a person of Philemon's piety, benevolence, and
gratitude, unless he had suspected him to have entertained
some such intention.

Whether Philemon forgave or punished Onesimus, is a cir-
cumstance concerning which we have no information. From
the earnestness with which the apostle solicited his pardon, and
from the generosity and goodness of Philemon's disposition,
the eminent critic above cited conjectures that he actually
pardoned Onesimus, and even gave him his freedom, in com-
pliance with the apostle's insinuation, as it is interpreted by
some, that " he would do more than he had asked." For it
was no uncommon thing, in ancient times, to bestow freedom
on those slaves whose faithful services had procured for them
the esteem and good-will of their masters. The primitive Chris-
tians preserving this epistle, and placing it in the sacred
canon, Dr. Benson remarks, are strong arguments to induce us
to believe that Philemon granted the apostle's request, and re-
ceived Onesimus into his house and favour again. As Onesimus
was particularly recommended by St. Paul to the notice of the
Colossians, (iv. 9.) it cannot be doubted that they cheerfully
received him into their Church. In the apostolical constitu-
tions (a), Onesimus is said to have been Bishop of Berea; but
they are a compilation of the fourth century, and consequently
of no authority. When Ignatius wrote his Epistle to the Ephe-
sians, (A.D. 107.) their bishop's name was Onesimus; and
Grotius thought that he was the person for whom St. Paul in-
terceded. But this, as Dr. Lardner (b) remarks, is not certain.
Dr. Mill (c) has mentioned a copy, at the conclusion of which
it is said that Onesimus suffered martyrdom at Rome, by having
his legs broken.

That this epistle was written from Rome, about the same time with those to the Philippians and Colossians, is proved by several coincidences. "As the letter to Philemon, and that to the Colossians, were written," says Dr. Paley, "at the same time, and sent by the same messenger, the one to a particular inhabitant, the other to the Church of Colosse, it may be ex

« EelmineJätka »