Philemon 1:11
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

New Living Translation
Onesimus hasn't been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us.

English Standard Version
(Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.)

Berean Study Bible
Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

Berean Literal Bible
once useless to you, but now useful both to you and to me,

New American Standard Bible
who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.

King James Bible
Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Once he was useless to you, but now he is useful both to you and to me.

International Standard Version
Once he was useless to you, but now he is very useful both to you and to me.

NET Bible
who was formerly useless to you, but is now useful to you and me.

New Heart English Bible
who once was useless to you, but now is useful to you and to me.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
He who was not useful to you at times, but now also is very useful to you and to me,

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Once he was useless to you, but now he is very useful to both of us.

New American Standard 1977
who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.

Jubilee Bible 2000
who in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now is profitable to thee and to me,

King James 2000 Bible
Who in time past was to you unprofitable, but now profitable to you and to me:

American King James Version
Which in time past was to you unprofitable, but now profitable to you and to me:

American Standard Version
who once was unprofitable to thee, but now is profitable to thee and to me:

Douay-Rheims Bible
Who hath been heretofore unprofitable to thee, but now is profitable both to me and thee,

Darby Bible Translation
once unserviceable to thee, but now serviceable to thee and to me:

English Revised Version
who was aforetime unprofitable to thee, but now is profitable to thee and to me:

Webster's Bible Translation
Who in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:

Weymouth New Testament
Formerly he was useless to you, but now--true to his name--he is of great use to you and to me.

World English Bible
who once was useless to you, but now is useful to you and to me.

Young's Literal Translation
who once was to thee unprofitable, and now is profitable to me and to thee,
Study Bible
Paul's Appeal for Onesimus
10I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whose father I became while I was in chains. 11Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12I am sending back to you him who is my very heart.…
Cross References
Matthew 25:30
And throw that worthless servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

Philemon 1:10
I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whose father I became while I was in chains.

Philemon 1:12
I am sending back to you him who is my very heart.
Treasury of Scripture

Which in time past was to you unprofitable, but now profitable to you and to me:

unprofitable.

Job 30:1,2 But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers …

Matthew 25:30 And cast you the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there …

Luke 17:10 So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which …

Romans 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; …

1 Peter 2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: …

profitable.

Luke 15:24,32 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is …

2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with you: for he is …

(11) In time past . . . unprofitable, but now profitable.--The name Onesimus means "useful," or "profitable," though derived from a different root from the words here used. It is hardly possible not to see in this passage a play on words, though (curiously enough) this is not noticed by the old Greek commentators. St. Paul seems to say, "He belied his name in days past; he will more than deserve it now."

To thee and to me.--St. Paul says "to thee," for he was sending back Onesimus. He adds "to me," in affectionate notice of his kindly ministrations already rendered to his spiritual father.

Verse 11. - Who was aforetime unprofitable ... to me. The play upon words seems unmistakable, and is peculiarly Pauline. Onesimus means "useful," or "profitable;" ἄχρηστος, "unprofitable," and εὔχρηστος is emphatic, "very profitable." "Useful he is named, but in time past he was (I confess it) not useful, but useless; in future, however, he will be of great use to us both." Compare with this the corresponding passage of Pliny's 'Letter to Sabinianus,' given in the Introduction. "Unprofitable" is a figure of speech, a euphemism, for "useless and even injurious." St. Paul makes the best of Onesimus's fault that it will in justice allow. But an old commentator says bluntly that Onesimus was "damnosus fuga et furto." How could he have been, in his unconverted state, otherwise than "unprofitable" to his master? "Olim paganus," says a Lapide, "jam Christianus; olim fur, jam fidelis servus; olim profugus, jam redux." Which in time past was to thee unprofitable,.... Yea, injurious and hurtful; one that was an eye servant, that loitered away his time, and set an ill example to fellow servants; and not only so, but embezzled his master's goods, and robbed him, and run away from him. So every man, in his state of unregeneracy, is an unprofitable man, Romans 3:12 unprofitable to God, to men, and to themselves; their sins will not profit them, though they may promise them liberty and pleasure; nor will their riches, should they lose their own souls: nor their own righteousness, in the business of justification and salvation; nor even an outward profession of religion: yea, they are not only said to be unprofitable, but are represented as good for nothing; hence they are compared to dishonourable and unserviceable vessels; to briers and thorns, and the earth which brings them; to the salt that has lost its savour, and is fit neither for the land, nor for the dunghill; to rotten figs, to chaff, and dross of metals: yea, they are hurtful and injurious to themselves, on whom they bring ruin and destruction; to others, to wicked men, whom they more and more corrupt, and harden in sin; and to good men, whom they grieve; and also to the interest and glory of God, whose laws they transgress, and against whom they sin, affront his justice, and provoke the eyes of his glory,

But now profitable to thee and to me; that is, he was now likely to be so, to be profitable to Philemon, as a servant, and to the apostle as a ministering brother. Some think there is in this an allusion to his name Onesimus, which signifies "profitable"; before he did not answer to his name, but now he was a true Onesimus, really a profitable person; grace, of an unprofitable man, makes a profitable one. Such an one is profitable to himself; his godliness is gain unto him, it having both the promise of this life, and of that which is to come; and he is profitable to others, if he has gifts qualifying him for the public work of the ministry, as Onesimus seems to have had; then he is made and becomes very useful to many for conviction, conversion, comfort, and edification; and if only a private believer, he is often profitable to others, by relating the work of God upon his soul; he is serviceable to the interest of Christ, for the support of the ministry, and supply of the poor; he is useful by his good examples, and prayers, in the neighbourhood, town, city, or nation, in which he dwells. This argument from profit, the apostle knew would be an engaging one. 11. Which … was … unprofitable—belying his name Onesimus, which means "profitable." Not only was he "unprofitable," but positively injurious, having "wronged" his master. Paul uses a mild expression.

now profitable—Without godliness a man has no station. Profitable in spiritual, as well as in temporal things.1:8-14 It does not lower any one to condescend, and sometimes even to beseech, where, in strictness of right, we might command: the apostle argues from love, rather than authority, in behalf of one converted through his means; and this was Onesimus. In allusion to that name, which signifies profitable, the apostle allows that in time past he had been unprofitable to Philemon, but hastens to mention the change by which he had become profitable. Unholy persons are unprofitable; they answer not the great end of their being. But what happy changes conversion makes! of evil, good; of unprofitable, useful. Religious servants are treasures in a family. Such will make conscience of their time and trusts, and manage all they can for the best. No prospect of usefulness should lead any to neglect their obligations, or to fail in obedience to superiors. One great evidence of true repentance consists in returning to practise the duties which have been neglected. In his unconverted state, Onesimus had withdrawn, to his master's injury; but now he had seen his sin and repented, he was willing and desirous to return to his duty. Little do men know for what purposes the Lord leaves some to change their situations, or engage in undertakings, perhaps from evil motives. Had not the Lord overruled some of our ungodly projects, we may reflect upon cases, in which our destruction must have been sure.
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