Philemon 1:15
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever--

New Living Translation
It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever.

English Standard Version
For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever,

New American Standard Bible
For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever,

King James Bible
For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever;

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For perhaps this is why he was separated from you for a brief time, so that you might get him back permanently,

International Standard Version
Perhaps this is why he was separated from you for a while, so that you could have him back forever,

NET Bible
For perhaps it was for this reason that he was separated from you for a little while, so that you would have him back eternally,

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But perhaps also for this cause he departed for a time, so that you may have him for eternity,

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Maybe Onesimus was gone for a while so that you could have him back forever-

Jubilee Bible 2000
Perhaps for this, he departed from you for a season, that thou should have him again forever,

King James 2000 Bible
For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that you should receive him forever;

American King James Version
For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that you should receive him for ever;

American Standard Version
For perhaps he was therefore parted from thee for a season, that thou shouldest have him for ever;

Douay-Rheims Bible
For perhaps he therefore departed for a season from thee, that thou mightest receive him again for ever:

Darby Bible Translation
for perhaps for this reason he has been separated [from thee] for a time, that thou mightest possess him fully for ever;

English Revised Version
For perhaps he was therefore parted from thee for a season, that thou shouldest have him for ever;

Webster's Bible Translation
For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldst receive him for ever;

Weymouth New Testament
For perhaps it was for this reason he was parted from you for a time, that you might receive him back wholly and for ever yours;

World English Bible
For perhaps he was therefore separated from you for a while, that you would have him forever,

Young's Literal Translation
for perhaps because of this he did depart for an hour, that age-duringly thou mayest have him,
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

1:15-22 When we speak of the nature of any sin or offence against God, the evil of it is not to be lessened; but in a penitent sinner, as God covers it, so must we. Such changed characters often become a blessing to all among whom they reside. Christianity does not do away our duties to others, but directs to the right doing of them. True penitents will be open in owning their faults, as doubtless Onesimus had been to Paul, upon his being awakened and brought to repentance; especially in cases of injury done to others. The communion of saints does not destroy distinction of property. This passage is an instance of that being imputed to one, which is contracted by another; and of one becoming answerable for another, by a voluntary engagement, that he might be freed from the punishment due to his crimes, according to the doctrine that Christ of his own will bore the punishment of our sins, that we might receive the reward of his righteousness. Philemon was Paul's son in the faith, yet he entreated him as a brother. Onesimus was a poor slave, yet Paul besought for him as if seeking some great thing for himself. Christians should do what may give joy to the hearts of one another. From the world they expect trouble; they should find comfort and joy in one another. When any of our mercies are taken away, our trust and hope must be in God. We must diligently use the means, and if no other should be at hand, abound in prayer. Yet, though prayer prevails, it does not merit the things obtained. And if Christians do not meet on earth, still the grace of the Lord Jesus will be with their spirits, and they will soon meet before the throne to join for ever in admiring the riches of redeeming love. The example of Onesimus may encourage the vilest sinners to return to God, but it is shamefully prevented, if any are made bold thereby to persist in evil courses. Are not many taken away in their sins, while others become more hardened? Resist not present convictions, lest they return no more.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 15. - Therefore; for this purpose (final cause). Departed for a season. He was therefore parted from thee for a time (Revised Version). Forever; everlastingly (accusative, not an adverb). The relation of master and slave would have been in any case, and would still be, terminated by death. But it was now replaced by a new relation of Christian brotherhood, which would be permanent - a great advantage. So Calvin, Grotius, and many others. Meyer's objection does not seem of much weight (compare the Perpetua mancipia of Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17). Baur thinks that in this verse he has reached the core of the Epistle - the ethical truth which it seeks to embody (but see Introduction: "Authenticity and Characteristics").

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For perhaps he therefore departed for a season,.... The apostle in this clause seems to soften this business of Onesimus in running away from his master; he calls it not a running away, but a departure, an absence from him, and that but for a little while; and suggests that the hand of God might be in it; that there was an overruling providence that attended it, such as was in Joseph's going down into Egypt; and that this separation of Onesimus from his master, for a short time, was in order that they should come together again, and never part more, as follows:

that thou shouldest receive him for ever; or during life, referring to the law in Exodus 21:6 or to all eternity, since they were in the same spiritual relation, partakers of the same grace, and had a right to the same heavenly inheritance, and should be together with Christ for evermore.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

15. perhaps—speaking in human fashion, yet as one believing that God's Providence probably (for we cannot dogmatically define the hidden purposes of God in providence) overruled the past evil to ultimately greater good to him. This thought would soften Philemon's indignation at Onesimus' past offense. So Joseph in Ge 45:5.

departed—literally, "was parted from thee"; a softening term for "ran away," to mitigate Philemon's wrath.

receive him—Greek, "have him for thyself in full possession" (see on [2543]Php 4:18). The same Greek as in Mt 6:2.

for ever—in this life and in that to come (compare Ex 21:6). Onesimus' time of absence, however long, was but a short "hour" (so Greek) compared with the everlasting devotion henceforth binding him to his master.

Philemon 1:15 Additional Commentaries
Context
Paul's Appeal for Onesimus
14but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. 15For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, 16no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.…
Cross References
Genesis 45:5
And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

Genesis 45:8
"So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.
Treasury of Scripture

For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that you should receive him for ever;

Genesis 45:5-8 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you …

Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it to …

Psalm 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise you: the remainder of wrath …

Isaiah 20:6 And the inhabitant of this isle shall say in that day, Behold, such …

Acts 4:28 For to do whatever your hand and your counsel determined before to be done.

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