Philemon 1:1-21

Philemon 1:1-21
Ordinary C41


Paul,I a prisonerII of ChristIII

Notes on verse 1a

I “Paul” = Paulos. From Latin Paulus (small, little). This is Paul or Paulos, meaning little.
II “prisoner” = desmios. 17x in NT. From desomon (a chain, bond, impediment; being in jail, a ligament); from deo (to tie, bind, fasten, impel, compel; to declare something against the law or prohibited). This is a binding or one who is bound. So, it can be a prisoner or captive.
III “Christ” = Christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.

Jesus,IV and TimothyV our brother,VI

Notes on verse 1b

IV “Jesus” = Ieosus. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone)}. This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
V “Timothy” = Timouthteou. From time (worth or something’s perceived value; literally, price, but figuratively, the honor or value one sees in someone or something else; can be esteem or dignity; precious or valuables); {from tino (to pay, be punished, pay a penalty or fine because of a crime); from tio (to pay respect, value)} + theos (God or a god). This is Timothy, literally “dear to God.”
VI “brother” = adelphos. From a (with, community, fellowship) + delphus (womb). This is a brother in a literal or figurative sense. It is also used of another member of the Church.

To our belovedVII coworkerVIII Philemon,IX 

Notes on verse 1c

VII “beloved” = agapetos. From agape (love, goodwill, benevolence; God’s divine love); from agapao (to love, take pleasure in, esteem; to prefer). This is Beloved or very dear one. It is a title for the Messiah, but also for Christians. Properly, this is one who personally experiences God’s love.
VIII “coworker” = sunergos. 13x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + the base of ergon (work, task, deed, labor, effort) {from ergo (to work, accomplish, do)}. This is co-worker, associate, helper, co-laborer or one’s companion during labor.
IX “Philemon” = Philemon. 1x in NT. From phileo (friendship love and fondness with personal attachment; kiss as a sign of love deriving from this personal affection -cherishing); from philos (dear, beloved, a friend, an associate; friendship with personal affection, a trusted confidante; love from personal experience with another person). This is Philemon, meaning “kindly” or “friendly” or “he who shows kindness” or “mister kiss” or hugging hunk.” See

to our sisterX Apphia,XI to our fellow soldierXII

Notes on verse 2a

X “sister” = adelphe. Related to “brother” in v1. From adelphos (see note VI above). This is sister, whether by birth or as a member of the same Christian community.
XI “Apphia” = Apphia. 1x in NT. Perhaps from chaphaph (to cover, protect) OR from apphus (papa) OR from Phrygian (darling) OR from Hebrew yasaph (to add, increase). This is Apphia, a name that may mean “she who shields” or “protected one” or “darling.” See
XII “fellow soldier” = sustratiotes. 2x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + stratiotes (soldier in a literal or figurative sense); {from stratia (army; used figuratively for large organized groups like the angels and the hosts of heaven, which is to say the stars); from the same as strateuo (to wage war, fight, serve as a soldier; used figuratively for spiritual warfare); or from the base of stronnuo (to spread, to spread out like a bed)}. This is a fellow soldier or someone else in the Christian community who campaigns with another in the work of faith.

Archippus,XIII and to the churchXIV in your house:XV

Notes on verse 2b

XIII “Archippus” = Archippos. 2x in NT. From archo (to rule, begin, have first rank or have political power) + hippos (horse). This is Archippus, meaning “horse-ruler.”
XIV “church” = ekklesia. From ek (from, out from) + kaleo to call by name, invite, to name, bid, summon, call aloud) {related to keleuo (to command, order, direct); from kelomai (to urge on)}. This is properly a calling out or an assembly. It was used to refer to a church.
XV “house” = oikos. This is house – the building, the household, the family, descendants, the temple.

GraceXVI to you and peaceXVII from GodXVIII our FatherXIX and the LordXX Jesus Christ.

Notes on verse 3

XVI “grace” = charis. From chairo (to rejoice, be glad; used to say hello; properly, delighting in the grace of God or experiencing God’s favor); from char– (to extend favor, lean towards, be inclined to be favorable towards). This is grace, kindness, favor, gratitude, thanks. It is the sense of being inclined to or favorable towards – leaning towards someone to share some good or benefit. This can be literal, figurative, or spiritual. It is grace as abstract concept, manner, or action.
XVII “peace” = eirene. Perhaps from eiro (to join, tie together to form a whole). This is one, peace, quietness, rest, peace of mind, harmony. Peace was a common farewell among Jews (i.e. shalom) and this well-wishing included a blessing of health and wholeness for the individual. This word also indicates wholeness and well-being – when everything that is essential is joined together properly. This is peace literally or figuratively. By implication, it is prosperity (but not in the sense of excessive wealth. Prosperity would have meant having enough from day to day.)
XVIII “God” = Theos. Related to “Timothy” in v1. See note V above.
XIX “Father” = Pater. This is father in a literal or figurative sense. Could be elder, senior, ancestor, originator, or patriarch.
XX “Lord” = Kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.

I thankXXI my God alwaysXXII when I mentionXXIII you in my prayers,XXIV 

Notes on verse 4

XXI “thank” = eucharisteo. Related to “grace” in v3. From eu (good, well, well done, rightly) + charis (see note XVI above). This is giving thanks, being thankful. It is a recognition that God’s grace is good and actively showing gratitude. It can also be used for saying grace before eating. This is where “eucharist” comes from.
XXII “always” = pantote. From pas (all, every, each) + tote (then, whether past or future); {from hote (when); from ho (the)}. This is literally every when. It is always, at all times.
XXIII “mention” = mneiapoieo. Mneia is 7x in NT– all uses in epistles for remembering you in prayers and 1x to remember us kindly (1 Th 3:6). From mimnesko (to remind or remember; memory through an active, intentional process or being mindful; not incidentally or accidentally remembering); from mnaomai (to remember; by implication give reward or consequence); perhaps from meno (to stay, abide, wait, endure). Properly, this is bringing someone or something to mind or mentioning them. It can also be a memory or commemoration. Further, it can be a specific focus on an aspect of someone or something. Poieo is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause.
XXIV “prayers” = proseuche. From proseuchomai (to pray or pray for, to worship or supplicate; more literally exchanging one’s own wishes for God’s); {from pros (advantageous for, at, toward) + euchomai (to wish, make a request, pray)}. This is prayer, worship, or a place where one prays.

because I hearXXV of your loveXXVI for allXXVII the saintsXXVIII and your faithXXIX, XXX toward the Lord Jesus. 

Notes on verse 5

XXV “hear” = akouo. This is hear or listen, but it also means to understand by hearing. This is where the word “acoustics” comes from.
XXVI “love” = agape. Related to “beloved” in v1. See note VII above.
XXVII “all” = pas. Related to “always” in v4. See note XXII above.
XXVIII “saints” = hagios. From hagnos (holy, sacred, pure ethically, ritually, or ceremonially; prepared for worship, chaste, unadulterated, pure to the core; undefiled by sin; figurative for innocent, modest, perfect). God is totally different from humanity and thus set apart. That which is consecrated to worship God (elements of worship) or to serve God (as the saints) are holy because they are now set apart for God’s purposes. Holy because important to God. This is sacred physically, pure. It can be morally blameless or ceremonially consecrated.
XXIX “faith” = pistis. From peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is less about knowing, believing, and repeating a list of doctrines then it is about trusting God. Faith means listening to God and seeking to live a holy life even (and especially) when we don’t understand how everything works or fits together. Faith is about being faithful (trusting and doing) rather than being all knowing.
XXX {untranslated} = echo. This is to have, hold, possess.

I pray that the partnershipXXXI of your faith may becomeXXXII effectiveXXXIII as you comprehendXXXIV all the goodXXXV that we share in Christ. 

Notes on verse 6

XXXI “partnership” = koinonia. 19x in NT. From koinonos (partner, companion, partaker, sharer); From koinos (common, shared, unclean, ritually profane); probably from sun (with, together with). This is sharing in common so it is fellowship, participation, communion, and aid that comes from the community.
XXXII “become” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
XXXIII “effective” = energes. Related to “coworker” in v1. 3x in NT. From en (in, at, by, with, among) + ergon (see note VIII above)}}. This is active, effective, operative, energized, powerful.
XXXIV “comprehend” = epignosis. From epiginosko (to perceive, discern, acknowledge, recognize, know exactly because of direct interaction); {from epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + ginosko (to know, recognize, realize, perceive, learn; gaining knowledge through personal experience)}. This is knowledge, intuition, or discernment. It is firsthand knowledge of someone or something gained through contact or experience. This is full discernment or true knowledge.
XXXV “good” = agathos. This is good, a benefit, or a good thing. It is good by its very nature, intrinsically good. A different word, kalos, refers to external signs of goodness.

I haveXXXVI indeed received muchXXXVII joyXXXVIII

Notes on verse 7a

XXXVI “have” = echo. Same as {untranslated} in v5. See note XXX above.
XXXVII “much” = polus. This is much, often, plenteous – a large number or a great extent.
XXXVIII “joy” = chara. Related to “grace” in v3 & “thank” in v4. From chairo (see note XVI above). This is joy, delight, gladness. Can be understood as the feeling you get when you are aware of grace.

and encouragementXXXIX from your love, because the heartsXL of the saints have been refreshedXLI through you, my brother.

Notes on verse 7b

XXXIX “encouragement” = paraklesis. Related to “church” in v2. From parakaleo (to call to, summon, invite, request, or beg; to exhort or admonish; to encourage, comfort, or console; has legal overtones and is used of one’s advocate in a courtroom); {from para (beside, by, in the presence of) + kaleo (see note XIV above). This is calling someone for help, a personal exhortation, comfort, encouragement, joy, entreaty, urging. This word comes from a legal setting – as bringing evidence to advocate for another in court. This word is related to the word “Advocate” or paraclete used for the Holy Spirit.
XL “hearts” = splagchnon. 11x in NT. Perhaps from splen (spleen). This is inner organs, entrails, heart, liver. The guts were seen as the root of emotions. So, this could be visceral empathy or sympathy.
XLI “refreshed” = anapauo. 12x in NT– including Matthew 11:28 “come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” From ana (up, again, back, among, between, anew) + pauo (to stop, refrain, pause, restrain, quit, come to an end). This is a break from work, which implies being refreshed. It denotes that rest that one gets once a necessary task is finished.

For this reason, though I amXLII moreXLIII than boldXLIV enough in Christ to commandXLV you to do the right thing,XLVI 

Notes on verse 8

XLII “am” = echo. Same as {untranslated} in v5. See note XXX above.
XLIII “more” = polus. Same as “much” in v7. See note XXXVII above.
XLIV “bold” = parresia. Related to “always” in v4 & “all” in v5. From pas (see note XXII above) + rhesis (speech); {from rheo (say, speak of, command)}. This is confidence, openness, boldness, outspokenness. It can imply assurance – free speech.
XLV “command” = epitasso. 10x in NT. From epi (on, upon, to, against, what is fitting) + tasso (to arrange, appoint, determine). This is to arrange, command, charge, order. It is a command that brings things into their proper order – so that they fit together.
XLVI “do the right thing” = aneko. 3x in NT. From ana (up, again, back, among, anew) + heko (to come or arrive as at a final destination or goal; to be present in a literal or figurative sense). This is to be fitting, to do what is right, to meet a standard, to be convenient.

yet I would ratherXLVII appeal toXLVIII you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old manXLIX and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. 

Notes on verse 9

XLVII “rather” = mallon. This is rather, more than, or better.
XLVIII “appeal to” = parakaleo. Related to “church” in v2 & “encouragement” in v7. See note XXXIX above.
XLIX “old man” = presbutes. 3x in NT. From the same as presbuteros (an elder as one of the Sanhedrin and also in the Christian assembly in the early church); from presbus (old man). This is an old man or an ambassador.

10 I am appealing to you for my child,L Onesimus,LI whose father I have becomeLII during my imprisonment.LIII 

Notes on verse 10

L “child” = teknon. From tikto (to beget, bring forth, produce). This is a child, descendant, or inhabitant.
LI “Onesimus” = Onesimos. 2x in NT. From onesis (use, advantage) OR from oninemi (to profit, help, have joy); perhaps from onomai (to slur). This is Onesimus, meaning “useful” or “profitable” or “will be useful” or “beneficial.” The name was often given to slaves. See
LII “father I have become” = gennao. Related to “become” in v6. From genna (descent, birth); from genos (family, offspring, kin – in a literal or figurative sense); from ginomai (see note XXXII above). This is to beget, give birth to, or bring forth. Properly, it refers to procreation by the father, but was used of the mother by extension. Figuratively, this can mean to regenerate.
LIII “imprisonment” = desmos. Related to “prisoner” in v1. 18x in NT. From deo (see note II above). This is a chain, bond, infirmity, impediment.

11 Formerly he was uselessLIV to you, but now he is indeed usefulLV to you and to me. 12 I am sendingLVI him, that is, my own heart, back to you. 

Notes on verses 11-12

LIV “useless” = achrestos. 1x in NT. From a (not, without) + chrestos (useful, good, well-fitted, benevolent, kind, gracious; also a name given to slaves in the ancient world); {from chraomai (to use, make use of, give what is needed, act in a specific way, request)}. This is literally not useful, unprofitable, inefficient, causing harm.
LV “useful” = euchrestos. Related to “thank” in v4 & “useless” in v11. 3x in NT. From eu (see note XXI above) + chrestos (see note LIV above). This is useful, profitable.
LVI “sending” = anapempo. 5x in NT. From ana (up, again, back, anew) + pempo (to send, put forth, or dispatch; often a temporary errand; sending someone with a focus on the place they departed from). This is to send up, back, or again.

13 I wantedLVII to keepLVIII him with me so that he might minister toLIX me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel,LX 

Notes on verse 13

LVII “wanted” = boulomai. This is to wish, desire, intend. Also, to plan with great determination.
LVIII “keep” = katecho. Related to {untranslated} in v5. 18x in NT. From kata (down, against, according to, throughout) + echo (see note XXX above). This is to hold fast, bind, possess, restrain, arrest, suppress. It is to hold down in a literal or figurative sense. It can also be to hold something in one’s memory.
LIX “minister to” = diakoneo. From diakonos (servant, minister, waiter, or attendant; a person who performs a service, including religious service); {perhaps from dia (through, across to the other side, thoroughly) + konis (dust) OR from dioko (to chase after, put to flight; by implication, to persecute or to purse like a hunter after its prey; this can be earnestly pursue or zealously persecute); {related to dio (put to flight)}}. This is to wait at table, to serve generally, to minister or administer, to be in the office of deacon. To wait on someone as a slave, friend, or host.
LX “gospel” = euaggelion. Related to “thank” in v4 & “useful” in v11. From eu (see note XXI above) + aggelos (angel, messenger; a messenger from God bringing news – whether a prophet or an angel); {from aggellos (to bring tidings); probably from ago (to bring, lead, carry, guide)}. This is literally “the good news,” used for the gospel. This is also where “evangelism” comes from.

14 but I preferredLXI to doLXII nothing withoutLXIII your consentLXIV

Notes on verse 14a

LXI “preferred” = thelo. This is to wish, desire, will, or intend. It is to choose or prefer in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean inclined toward or take delight in. It can have a sense of being ready to act on the impulse in question.
LXII “do” = poieo. Same as “mention” in v4. See note XXIII above.
LXIII “without” = choris. From chora (space, land, region, fields, open area); from chasma (gap, gulf, chasm, open space); from chasko (to gape, yawn). This is apart from, separate from.
LXIV “consent” = gnome. Related to “comprehend” in v6. 9x in NT. From ginosko (see note XXXIV above). This is a plot, purpose, opinion, consent, decision, resolve.

in order that your good deedLXV might be voluntaryLXVI and not something forced.LXVII 

Notes on verse 14b

LXV “good deed” = agathos. Same as “good” in v6. See note XXXV above.
LXVI “voluntary” = kata + hekousios. Literally, “according to willingness.” Hekousios is 1x in NT. From hekon (freely, voluntary). This is voluntarily, spontaneously, related to free will.
LXVII “forced” = kata + anagke. Literally, “according to necessity.” Anagke is 18x in NT. From ana (up, again, anew) + agcho (to press tightly, compress) OR related to agkale (the arm, particularly one that is bent to carry a load). This is necessity – something that happens that requires an immediate response. It is generally associated with pain or distress.

15 PerhapsLXVIII this is the reason he was separatedLXIX from you for a while,LXX so that you might have him backLXXI for the long term,LXXII 

Notes on verse 15

LXVIII “perhaps” = tacha. 2x in NT. From tachus (quickly, promptly; without unreasonable delay). This is perhaps, presently, without excessive delay.
LXIX “separated” = chorizo. Related to “without” in v14. 13x in NT. From choris (see note LXIII above). Properly, this is to separate or create space. It can be literal as divide, depart, or withdraw. It can be figurative in reference to divorce.
LXX “while” = hora. This is a set time or period, an hour, instant, or season. This is where the word “hour” comes from.
LXXI “have…back” = apecho. Related to {untranslated} in v5 & “keep” in v13. 19x in NT. From apo (from, away from) + echo (see note XXX above). This is to be distant, have fully, abstain, be paid, be distant, be enough. It is having something by detaching it from something else or releasing something else.
LXXII “long term” = aionios. From aion (an age, length of time). This is age-long, forever, everlasting. Properly, that which lasts for an age. This is where eon comes from.

16 no longer as a slaveLXXIII but moreLXXIV than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the fleshLXXV and in the Lord.

Notes on verse 16

LXXIII “slave” = doulos. Related to “prisoner” in v1 & “imprisonment” in v10. Perhaps from deo (see note II above). This is used for a servant or for a slave, enslaved. It refers to someone who belongs to someone else. But, it could be voluntary (choosing to be enslaved to pay off debt) or involuntary (captured in war and enslaved). It is used as a metaphor for serving Christ. Slavery was not inherited (i.e. the children of slaves were not assumed to be slaves) and slaves could buy their way to freedom. Slavery was generally on a contractual basis (that is for the duration of how long it took you to pay your debt and/or save up enough money to buy your freedom).
LXXIV “more” = mallon. Same as “rather” in v9. See note XLVII above.
LXXV “flesh” = sarx. May be from saroo (to sweep, cleanse by sweeping); from sairo (to brush off). This is flesh, the body, human nature, materiality, kindred. Flesh is not always evil in scripture (as when it refers to Jesus taking on a human body). However, it is generally used in a negative way for actions made selfishly and not through faith. This can mean animal flesh, i.e. meat, or refer to body in contrast to soul/spirit. Flesh can be a way of talking about how things or people are related or talking about human frailty (physical or moral).

17 So if you considerLXXVI me your partner,LXXVII welcomeLXXVIII him as you would welcome me. 

Notes on verse 17

LXXVI “consider” = echo. Same as {untranslated} in v5. See note XXX above.
LXXVII “partner” = koinonos. Related to “partnership” in v6. 10x in NT. See note XXXI above.
LXXVIII “welcome” = proslambano. 12x in NT. From pros (at, to, toward, with) + lambano (active acceptance/taking of what is available or what has been offered; emphasizes the choice and action of the individual). This is to take aside, accept, receive, or welcome. It can be to take in a friendly or hospitable sense or to eat (i.e. take food).

18 If he has wrongedLXXIX you in any way or owesLXXX you anything, chargeLXXXI that to me. 

Notes on verse 18

LXXIX “wronged” = adikeo. From adikos (unjust, unrighteous, wicked, treacherous); {from a (not, without) + dike (the principle of justice; that which is right in a way that is very clear; a decision or the execution of that decision; originally, this word was for custom or usage; evolved to include the process of law, judicial hearing, execution of sentence, penalty, and even vengeance; more commonly, it refers to what is right); may be from deiknumi (to show, point out, exhibit; figurative for teach, demonstrate, make known)}. This is to harm, damage, behave in an unjust way. It can also refer to an offender. It is moral wrong, especially caused by neglecting justice.
LXXX “owes” = opheilo. Perhaps from the base of ophelos (advantage, gain, profit); from ophello (heaped together, accumulate, increase). This is to be indebted morally or legally – having an obligation one must meet. This term came from the legal world, but was then adopted in reference to morality. In the New Testament it is used for humanity’s ethical responsibility.
LXXXI “charge” = ellogeo. 2x in NT. From en (in, on, at, by, with, among) + logos (word, statement, speech, analogy; here, word as an account or accounting; can also be a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying; a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words; by implication, a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive; can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ); from lego (to speak, tell, mention)}. This is to reckon or charge, attribute.

19 I, Paul, am writingLXXXII this with my own hand:LXXXIII I will repayLXXXIV it. I sayLXXXV nothing about your owingLXXXVI me even your own self. 

Notes on verse 19

LXXXII “writing” = grapho. This is to write or describe. It is where the word “graphic” comes from.
LXXXIII “hand” = cheir. This is the hand in a literal sense. Figuratively, the hand is the means a person uses to accomplish things so it can also mean power, means, or instrument.
LXXXIV “repay” = apotino. Related to “Timothy” in v1. 1x in NT. From apo (from, away from) + tino (see note V above). This is to pay off some kind of fine.
LXXXV “say” = lego. Related to “charge” in v18. See note LXXXI above.
LXXXVI “owing” = prosopheilo. Related to “owes” in v18. 1x in NT. From pros (at, to, toward, with) + opheilo (see note LXXX above). This is to owe additionally – a personal debt.

20 Yes,LXXXVII brother, let me have this benefitLXXXVIII from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 ConfidentLXXXIX of your obedience,XC I am writing to you, knowingXCI that you will do even more than I ask.XCII

Notes on verses 20-21

LXXXVII “yes” = nai. This is yes, truly, indeed. It is a strong affirmation.
LXXXVIII “have…benefit” = oninemi. Related to “Onesimus” in v10. 1x in NT. See note LI above.
LXXXIX “confident” = peitho. Related to “faith” in v5. See note XXIX above.
XC “obedience” = hupakoe. Related to “hear” in v5. 15x in NT. From hupoakouo (to listen, to attend to, or obey; acting subordinate to one who speaks – heeding a command or authority); {from hupo (by, under, about, subordinate to) + akouo (see note XXV above)}. This is obedience, submissiveness – listening attentively and acting in response.
XCI “knowing” = eido. This is to know, consider perceive, appreciate, behold, or remember. It means seeing with one’s eyes, but also figuratively, it means perceiving – seeing that becomes understanding. So, by implication, this means knowing or being aware.
XCII “ask” = lego. Same as “say” in v19. See note LXXXV above.

Image credit: “Onesimus.” Photo by Newsbomb.

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