|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-7 Faith in Christ, and love to him, should unite saints more closely than any outward relation can unite the people of the world. Paul in his private prayers was particular in remembering his friends. We must remember Christian friends much and often, as their cases may need, bearing them in our thoughts, and upon our hearts, before our God. Different sentiments and ways in what is not essential, must not make difference of affection, as to the truth. He inquired concerning his friends, as to the truth, growth, and fruitfulness of their graces, their faith in Christ, and love to him, and to all the saints. The good which Philemon did, was matter of joy and comfort to him and others, who therefore desired that he would continue and abound in good fruits, more and more, to God's honour.
Verse 6. - Render thus: So that the community of thy faith [with other Christians, whom you may be able to serve] may show itself in act, causing full acknowledgment [from the world without] of every good work for Jesus Christ that is in you (Revised Version is not clear here); literally, may become working. Not a theoretical or merely quiescent faith. He was to confess Christ before men (and see James 2:22). "For whatever good thing is in us makes manifest our faith" (Calvin). In you. Bishop Wordsworth reads ἡμῖν, "us" - the body of Christians, following A, C, D, E, K, L, with many Fathers and versions.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
That the communication of thy faith,.... The grace of faith itself cannot be communicated from one to another; a believing parent cannot communicate it to his children, nor a master to his servants, nor a minister to his hearers; but an account of it, of its actings and exercises, of the joy of it, and of the peace a soul is filled with through believing, may be given to the mutual comfort and edification of saints; and it may be shown forth to others by the fruits of it, works of righteousness: but here it seems to design acts of beneficence, communicating to the necessities of others, as flowing from faith; and these words are to be connected with Plm 1:4 as a part of the apostle's prayers, as what is contained in the preceding verse is the matter of his thanksgiving. And his prayer is, that such a communication of good things, which springs from faith,
may be effectual; to answer some very good purposes, the good of others, and the service of the interest of Christ, and the glory of God; or, as the Vulgate Latin version reads, only by the change of one letter, that it "may be evident"; to which the Syriac version seems to incline, rendering it, that it "may be fruitful in works"; or show itself in fruits of righteousness, in works of mercy and kindness; and the apostle's sense is, that it might be more and more so:
by the acknowledging of every good thing that is in you in Christ Jesus; the meaning is, that every good thing that is in the saints, or among them, should be acknowledged to come to them in and through Christ Jesus, in whom all fulness of grace dwells, and from whom all is imparted; and that every good thing that is communicated, or done in faith, which is effectual to any good purpose, should be owned as done by the grace and strength of Christ, and be done to his saints, as if done to himself, and be directed to his glory: the phrase, "in you", respects not Philemon only, but Apphia, Archippus, and the church in Philemon's house; the Arabic version reads, in us.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. That—The aim of my thanksgiving and prayers for thee is, in order that the, &c.
the communication of thy faith—the imparting of it and its fruits (namely, acts of love and beneficence: as Heb 13:16, "to communicate," that is, to impart a share) to others; or, the liberality to others flowing from thy faith (so the Greek is translated, "liberal distribution," 2Co 9:13).
effectual by—Greek, "in"; the element in which his liberality had place, that is, may be proved by acts in, &c.
acknowledging—Greek, "the thorough knowledge," that is, the experimental or practical recognition.
of every good thing which is in you—The oldest manuscripts read, "which is in US," that is, the practical recognition of every grace which is in us Christians, in so far as we realize the Christian character. In short, that thy faith may by acts be proved to be "a faith which worketh by love."
in Christ Jesus—rather as Greek, "unto Christ Jesus," that is, to the glory of Christ Jesus. Two of the oldest manuscripts omit "Jesus." This verse answers to Phm 5, "thy love and faith toward all saints"; Paul never ceases to mention him in his prayers, in order that his faith may still further show its power in his relation to others, by exhibiting every grace which is in Christians to the glory of Christ. Thus he paves the way for the request in behalf of Onesimus.
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