|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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 In his unconverted state, Onesimus had withdrawn, to his master's injury; but now he had seen his sin and repented, he was willing and desirous to return to his duty.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.
Verse 12. - Whom I sent back [to thee, according to A, C, D*, E, אָ] (aorist for present); but the decision reflects the struggle. It had not been altogether easy for the apostle to part with the youth, whom he might not see again. The whole Epistle is full of this strong and yearning affection. Thou therefore receive him. Do thou also act as becomes a Christian; receive him as my son. "Wonderfully efficacious this method for appeasing the anger of Philemon! For he was not able to rage or to do anything harshly against one whom Paul had called his own bowels" (Estius). A, F, G, and א omit "receive," as also Tischendorf. The Revised Version omits this clause.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Whom I have sent again,.... From Rome to Colosse, or to Philemon, wherever he was, along with this epistle:
thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels; meaning his son, who, in a spiritual sense, came out of his bowels, to whom he stood in the relation of a spiritual father; so the Syriac version renders it, as my son, so receive him; see Genesis 15:4 and for whom he had a most strong affection, and tender regard; his bowels yearned for him, and he suggests by this expression, that should he reject him, it would give him the utmost pain and uneasiness; and he should be obliged to cry out as the Prophet Jeremy did, "my bowels, my bowels, I am pained at the very heart"; Jeremiah 4:19 wherefore he entreats him to receive him again into his house and family, into his service, and into his heart and affections, where the apostle had received him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. mine own bowels—as dear to me as my own heart [Alford]. Compare Phm 17, "as myself." The object of my most intense affection as that of a parent for a child.
Philemon 1:12 Parallel Commentaries
Philemon 1:12 NIV
Philemon 1:12 NLT
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Philemon 1:12 NASB
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