Philemon 1:17
If you count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.
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(17) A partner.—The title is peculiar. In the singular number (in which it is naturally more distinctive) and in absolute use, unconnected with explanatory words (such as we read in 1Peter 5:1), it is nowhere else found, except in 2Corinthians 8:23, where Titus is called St. Paul’s “partner and fellow helper;” and even there the context defines the partnership as relating to the collection and ministration of alms. Here it can hardly refer to general Christian fellowship, which would require some such words as “in Christ,” or “in the Spirit,” and would not fully justify the strong personal appeal of the passage. It must indicate some peculiar bond of fellowship between St. Paul and Philemon. Philemon was his convert (see Philemon 1:19); yet we notice that he writes to him not as a son, but as a brother. Evidently he was a leader in the Church at Colossæ. Tradition, as usual, makes him its bishop. He must have been St. Paul’s partner in some common work or special communion of familiarity. (See Introduction, sect. 2.)

Philemon 1:17-20. If thou count me therefore a partner Κοινωνον, a companion, one having fellowship with thee in Christ, or a sharer with thee in the blessings of the gospel, the dearest bond of friendship; receive him as myself — Even as thou wouldest receive me, if I could have the satisfaction of paying thee a visit in person. If he hath wronged thee Ει τι ηδικησε, if he hath injured thee in any thing; or oweth thee aught — We cannot infer from this that Onesimus had robbed his master: it seems to be no more than a soft way of expressing the loss which Philemon had sustained by being deprived of his slave’s service; put that on my account — Charge it to me. I have written this with my own hand — And do thereby, as it were, give thee legal security for it; I will repay it — If thou requirest it; albeit I do not say, &c. — That is, not to say to thee, that as I was the instrument of thy conversion to Christ; thou owest unto me even thine own self besides — Besides pardoning Onesimus, thou owest to me, under God, thy very existence as a Christian, or the present and everlasting salvation of thy soul. What an immense obligation! Yet rather than be constrained to solicit Onesimus’s pardon on account of that obligation, he would himself pay to Philemon every thing Onesimus owed him. How ungrateful would Philemon have showed himself if he had refused to grant the apostle’s desire. Yea, brother — Let me prevail upon thee in this request; let me have joy of thee in the Lord — Let me obtain this kindness from thee for the Lord’s sake, which will much rejoice me. Refresh my bowels — Give me the most exquisite and Christian pleasure; in the Lord — In a matter so agreeable to the will of Christ. The word αναπαυσον, rendered refresh, “is very emphatical. It literally signifies, to appease, or quiet, which strongly intimates the commotion he felt through the ardour of his concern for Onesimus; and seems to represent the eagerness of his desire for his re-establishment in Philemon’s family, by the appetite of hunger.” — Doddridge.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.If there count me therefore a partner - The word rendered "partner" (κοινωνὸς koinōnos, means "a partaker, a companion." The idea in the word is that of having something in common (κοινὸς koinos) with any one - as common principles; common attachments; a common interest in an enterprise; common hopes. It may be applied to those who hold the same principles of religion, and who have the same hope of heaven, the same views of things, etc. Here the meaning is, that if Philemon regarded Paul as sharing with him in the principles and hopes of religion, or as a brother in the gospel so that he would receive him, he ought to receive Onesimus in the same way. He was actuated by the same principles, and had the same hopes, and had a claim to be received as a Christian brother. His receiving Onesimus would be interpreted by Paul as proof that he regarded him as a partaker of the hopes of the gospel, and as a companion and friend. For a plea in behalf of another, strongly resembling this, see Horace, Epis. Lib. 1, Ephesians 9. 17. a partner—in the Christian fellowship of faith, hope, and love.

receive him as myself—resuming "receive him that is mine own bowels."

If thou count me therefore a partner; koinwnon, one with whom thou hast communion, a partner in the same grace of the gospel, and in the same trials and afflictions of the gospel.

Receive him as myself; do not only forgive him, but kindly entertain him, who is my friend, as thou wouldst do myself. If thou count me therefore a partner,.... A companion and friend, who reckon each other's affairs and interest their own: the word answers to a word often used in Talmudic writings, for an associate of the doctors or wise men: here it may mean also a partner both in grace, and in the ministry; one that shared in the same gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, and one that was to be a partaker of the inheritance with the saints in light: now if Philemon reckoned the apostle such an one, as he doubtless did, as being engaged in the same common cause, and a partaker of the same common faith, and interested in the same common salvation; then he entreats him on account of Onesimus, in the following manner,

receive him as myself; intimating, that he was as dear to him as himself; that he loved him as his own soul; and that he should take whatever respect and affection were shown to him as done to himself; and that he would have him receive him into his house, his heart and affections, as he would receive him the apostle himself, should he come to him.

If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.
Philemon 1:17. Οὖν] resuming; see on Philemon 1:12, where the request, to which utterance is only now finally given after the moving digressions Philemon 1:13-16, was already to be expressed.

The emphasis, and that in the way of furnishing a motive, lies upon κοινωνόν: if thou hast me as a partner, if thou standest in this relation to me,—according to which consequently the refusal of the request would appear as proof of the contrary. As to this use of ἔχειν, comp. on Matthew 14:4. The notion of the κοινωνία is not to be restricted more narrowly than is implied in the idea of Christian fellowship, and so of common believing, loving, hoping, disposition, working, and so forth; while Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, and others bring out only the partnership of the φρονεῖν and the striving; whereas others, as Estius, Rosenmüller, Heinrichs, Flatt, et al., explain κοινωνόν as friend, and Beza and Bengel refer it to the community of property: “Si mecum habere te putas communia bona, ut inter socios esse soleat” (Beza); comp. Grotius. The ὡς is: so as if thou receivedst me, as if I now came to thee; for see Philemon 1:12. Theophylact: τίνα οὐκ ἂν κατεδυσώπησε; τίς γὰρ οὐκ ἂν ἐθέλησε Παῦλον προσδέξασθαι, Erasmus: “recipias oportet velut alterum me.” On προσλαβοῦ, comp. Romans 16:1; Romans 15:7.Philemon 1:17. ἔχεις …: for this use of ἔχω cf. Luke 14:18, Php 2:29.—κοινωνόν: for the idea see Romans 12:13; Romans 15:26 f., 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 9:13, Galatians 6:6, Php 4:15, 1 Timothy 6:18, Hebrews 13:16.—προσλαβοῦ αὐτὸν ὡς ἐμέ: cf. τὰ ἐμὰ σπλάγχνα in Philemon 1:12. An interesting parallel (given by Deissmann, op. cit. pp. 128 f.) occurs in a papyrus of the second century, written in Latin by a freedman, Aurelius Archelaus, to the military tribune, Julius Domitius: “Already once before have I commended unto thee my friend Theon. And now again, I pray thee, my lord, that he may be in thy sight as I myself” (ut eum ant’ oculos habeas tanquam me).17. count] Lit., “have,” hold. The word is similarly used Luke 14:18; Php 2:29.

a partner] An associate, a fellow; in faith and interests. The Apostle is altogether the man, the friend.—Cp. 2 Corinthians 8:23.—Wyclif, “as thou haste me a felowe.”

receive] On the word, see note on Philemon 1:12.

as myself] As me; and so as your “fellow,” in Christ. “After calling the slave … his brother, his son, his heart, what can this apostolic soul do further but call him his other self?” (Quesnel).Philemon 1:17. Ἔχεις) thou hast, without a figure [but Engl. Vers., If thou count]; for receive comes in after it.—κοινωνὸν, a partner) that what is thine may be mine, and mine thine.Verse 17. - If thou count me therefore a partner; if thou holdest me for a friend - by our friendship entreat this. The strongest form of entreaty possible to be used. Κοινωνία in Acts 2:42 refers to the Holy Communion, and in 1 Corinthians 10:16-21 partakers of it are plainly called by implication κοινωνοὶ ( παρτακερσ, or, as we should say, "communicants." But here the sense is apparently as above; literally, a partner. Then (οὖν)

Resumptive from Plm 1:12.

Thou count (ἔχεις)

Lit., hold, which is often used in this sense. Compare Luke 14:18, hold me or count me as excused Philippians 2:29, hold such in reputation.


More than an intimate friend. One in Christian fellowship.

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