|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 In his unconverted state, Onesimus had withdrawn, to his master's injury; but now he had seen his sin and repented, he was willing and desirous to return to his duty.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 13. - I was wishing; I would fain have kept (Revised Version). The story tells itself if we read between the lines. What steadfast adherence to principle on the part of the apostle, when the help of Onesimus would have been so welcome to him in his weak health, and his position as a prisoner! Philemon could hardly fail to think more favorably of Onesimus, when he saw how much importance the apostle attached to his services. In the bonds of the gospel. "Which I am enduring for the sake of the gospel" (see Ver. 9) - a variation of phrase from Ver. 9 (and of our Lord's words, Mark 8:35; Mark 10:29).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Whom I would have retained with me,.... At Rome, where the apostle was a prisoner:
that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the Gospel; the apostle was in bonds, not for any crime, for any immorality he had been guilty of, but for the sake of the Gospel, for professing and preaching that; for this he was an ambassador in bonds, as he elsewhere says, Ephesians 6:20. Now he would have kept Onesimus with him, either to have waited upon him, in his bonds, and to have provided for him the necessaries of life; or to have assisted him in the ministration of the word, in the room of Philemon, who, had he been there, would have been employed in such service; so that if the apostle had retained him, he would have been acting not for himself, but in the room of his master, and doing what he should have done, had he been on the spot. This the apostle observes to prevent an objection that might have been made; that since Onesimus was become so profitable to him, why did he send him back? why did he not keep him for his own service? this he obviates and removes, by signifying he should have done it, but for the following reason.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. I—emphatical. I for my part. Since I had such implicit trust in him as to desire to keep him with me for his services, thou mayest.
I would have retained—different Greek from the "would," Phm 14, "I could have wished," "I was minded" here; but "I was not willing," Phm 14.
in thy stead—that he might supply in your place all the services to me which you, if you were here, would render in virtue of the love you bear to me (Phm 19).
bonds of the gospel—my bonds endured for the Gospel's sake (Phm 9).
Philemon 1:13 Parallel Commentaries
Philemon 1:13 NIV
Philemon 1:13 NLT
Philemon 1:13 ESV
Philemon 1:13 NASB
Philemon 1:13 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible