With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known to you all things which are done here.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Onesimus.—See Philemon 1:10-17. The emphatic reference to him as being “faithful and beloved” like Tychicus, and “one of you” like Epaphras, is a remarkable commentary on St. Paul’s exhortation as to slaves and masters in the preceding chapter.
Who is one of you - That is, either who is from your city, or one of your own people and nation. It is clear from this, that Onesimus was from Phrygia, and probably from the city of Colossae itself. It would seem also that he was of a higher rank than is designated by the word "slave" now. He was, indeed, a "servant" δοῦλος doulos - of Philemon, but would the apostle have addressed the Colossians, and said that he was "one of them," if he had occupied precisely the condition which is now denoted by the word "slave"? Would a minister of the gospel now in the Northern States, who should send a letter by a run-away slave to a community of masters at the South, say of him that he was "one of them?" Would it be kindly received, or produce a good impression, if he did? There is reason, therefore, to think that Onesimus was not a slave in the proper sense, but that he might have been a respectable youth, who had bound himself to service for a term of years; compare Plm 1:18.
They shall make known to you all things which are done here - Relating to Paul himself and the state of the church in Rome. As the Epistle which Paul sent was designed not only for them, but to be a part of the volume of revealed truth, he wrote only those things which would be of permanent interest. Other matters he left for those who carried the Epistle to communicate. It would also serve to give Tychicus and Onesimus more respectability in view of the church at Colossae, if he referred the church to them for information on important points.
a faithful … brother—rather, "the faithful brother," he being known to the Colossians as the slave of Philemon, their fellow townsman and fellow Christian.
one of you—belonging to your city.
They shall make known unto you all things—Greek, "all the things here." This substantial repetition of "all my state shall Tychicus declare unto you," strongly favors the reading of English Version in Col 4:8, "that he might (may) know your state," as it is unlikely the same thing should be stated thrice.With Onesimus, whom he adjoins to Tychicus. Some, because of his following commendation, think him to be another person different from the fugitive servant of Philemon; but the most, comparing the description here with the circumstances in the Epistle to Philemon, Colossians 4:10,16, &c., conclude him to be the very same, taking Philemon for a Colossian.
A faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you; there, as here, being expressly called a beloved brother, yea, and, which may answer to faithful, Paul’s spiritual son, who (whatever he had been) would be profitable and a benefit to Philemon, whom Paul would have to receive him as his own bowels. And that which might commend him to the Colossians was, that he was one of that city, or the same birth with themselves.
They shall make known unto you all things which are done here; these two persons of credit (upon the apostle’s testimony) in their different circumstances, might, as joint witnesses, give them a full and certain account how things went with the church, and particularly with Paul, now a prisoner at Rome.
a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you; either one of their ministers, as Epaphras was, Colossians 3:12 or one of their city, who was originally a native of that place; and which the apostle mentions, the more to recommend him; though this is the least part of his commendation; he calls him a "brother", being both a converted man, and in the ministry; and being faithful in his work to Christ, and greatly beloved, by the saints; and particularly highly in the esteem and affections of the apostle:
they shall make known unto you all things which are done here; at Rome, either to him in prison, or in the church; and being two of them, were a proper number to bear a testimony, and which ought to be received.With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Colossians 4:9. Ὀνησίμῳ. Philemon’s runaway slave, who was rescued by Paul and converted to Christianity. Paul sent him back to his master, with the exquisite Epistle to Philemon despatched at the same time as this letter. He speaks of him in the most affectionate terms, to secure a welcome for him at Colossæ. He seems from this passage to have belonged to Colossæ, and we may infer that this was the home of Philemon. If the author of Colossians learnt his name from the Epistle to Philemon, it is strange that he should have contented himself with this bald reference, and made no allusion to his desertion, conversion and return to his master. Such omission here is characteristic of Paul’s delicacy.—τὰ ὧδε is wider than τὰ κατʼ ἐμὲ (Colossians 4:7). It means all that is happening to the Church in Rome.9. Onesimus] On his name and story see below, on Philemon 1:10, and Introd. to the Ep. to Philemon, ch. 3.
a faithful and beloved brother] Lit., and better, the, &c. See above on Colossians 4:7. This rescued slave is raised, in Christ, to a brother’s place beside Tychicus, the Colossians, and Paul himself, and is at once welcomed into the family of God.—St Paul implicitly assumes Philemon’s pardon and welcome for Onesimus.
is one of you] Or, belongs to you, a fellow-Colossian. A beautiful euphemism for Onesimus’ legal connexion with Colossæ; and it was, for Christians, as true as it was beautiful.
all things which are done here] Lit., more generally, all the things here; circumstances and proceedings alike.Verse 9. - With Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is (one) of you (ver. 7; Philemon 1:10, 16; Colossians 1:2; 1 Peter 5:12). "In Christ there is no slave" (Colossians 3:11). Onesimus, like Epaphras and Tychicus, is a brother, to be trusted and loved (comp. Philemon 1:10-17). This language strongly supports the appeal of ver. 1, and would further the purpose of the apostle's intercession to Onesimus' master. And Onesimus even shares with the honoured Tychicus in the privilege of being the apostle's messenger! All things that are happening here they will make known to you (ver. 7; Ephesians 6:21). There is, therefore, no need for any detailed account of the writer's circumstances. The solicitude which he assumes that these stranger Colossians (Colossians 1:8; Colossians 2:1) feel on his behalf shows how commanding his ascendancy over the Gentile Churches had become.
See on Plm 1:10.
The faithful and beloved brother
Whom the Colossians had known only as the worthless, runaway slave. See Plm 1:11, Plm 1:16.
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