Philemon 1:19
I Paul have written it with my own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to you how you owe to me even your own self besides.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) I Paul have written it with mine own hand.—St. Paul actually introduces here a regular bond couched in legal form, written (as, perhaps, the whole Letter was written) with his own hand. In so doing he still continues the idea of the preceding verse; but the following words show that, though willing to stand to his bond, he knew Philemon too well to suppose that he would accept it.

It is clear from this passage that the Apostle had money which he could rightly call his own. At Ephesus, where he probably first knew Philemon, it would probably be earned in the work with Aquila and Priscilla, as at Corinth, and it is possible that some of it might still remain. In Rome now, it could hardly be from any other source than the offerings from the Church at Philippi. They were given him freely; he might fairly spend them on his own “son in the faith.”

Albeit I do not say to thee . . .—Literally, not to say to thee. Here St. Paul escapes from the business-like promise of the last verse to the freer Atmosphere of spiritual relations. He knew that this promise it was right for him to offer, but wrong for Philemon to accept. Philemon owed his own self—his new self in Christ—to the Apostle. In that was a debt which he could not repay, but would rejoice even in this smaller matter to acknowledge.

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.I Paul have written it with mine own hand - It has been inferred from this, that Paul wrote this entire Epistle with his own hand, though this was contrary to his usual practice; compare the Romans 16:22 note; 1 Corinthians 16:21 note; Galatians 6:11 note. He undoubtedly meant to refer to this as a mark of special favor toward Philemon, and as furnishing security that he would certainly be bound for what he had promised.

I will repay it - I will be security for it. It is not probable that Paul supposed that Philemon would rigidly exact it from him, but if he did, he would feel himself bound to pay it.

Albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides - Paul had doubtless been the means of the conversion of Philemon, and whatever hope he cherished of eternal life, was to be traced to his instrumentality. Paul says that this was equivalent to his owing himself to him. His very life - his eternal welfare - was to be traced to his labors. What he asked now of him was a small matter compared with this, and he seems to have supposed - what was probably true - that for this consideration, Philemon would not think of exacting of him what he had voluntarily obligated himself to obey.

19. with mine own hand—not employing an amanuensis, as in other Epistles: a special compliment to Philemon which he ought to show his appreciation of by granting Paul's request. Contrast Col 4:18, which shows that the Epistle to the Colossian Church, accompanying this Epistle, had only its closing "salutation" written by Paul's own hand.

albeit, &c.—literally, "that I may not say … not to say," &c.

thou owest … even thine own self—not merely thy possessions. For to my instrumentality thou owest thy salvation. So the debt which "he oweth thee" being transferred upon me (I making myself responsible for it) is cancelled.

Thou hast it here under my hand, I take upon me to satisfy thee Onesimus’s debt; yet I could tell thee, that thou owest me more than it can be, even thy own self, God having made use of me as an instrument to convert and turn thee unto God. Such persons are great debtors to their spiritual fathers, Romans 15:27. I Paul have written it, with mine own hand,.... Meaning either this epistle, which being short, he used no amanuensis, but wrote it all himself, and which might be taken as an engagement to do what he promised; or else a bill, a promissory note, written with his own hand, which he sent along with Onesimus, by which he laid himself under obligation to give Philemon full satisfaction in every thing, in which he had been injured by his servant; adding,

I will repay it: this was not an ironical expression, nor a piece of vanity in the apostle; he spoke seriously, and heartily, and meant what he said; and though his circumstances were often so mean, that he was forced to work with his own hands to minister to his necessities; yet such was his interest in the churches, and such their obligation to him, on account of his personal and useful ministrations to them, that he could easily raise a sum of money among them, upon any emergent occasion; so that Philemon had a good surety and paymaster of the apostle: and this shows his great humility to be a bondsman for a servant, and to make good damages and debts brought on in a scandalous manner; as also that suretyship in some cases is lawful, though it ought to be cautiously, and for very good reasons, entered into: and this engagement of the apostle for Onesimus bears some resemblance with, and may serve to illustrate the suretyship of Christ, for his people, they, and Onesimus, being much in a like condition; as he was an unprofitable and run away servant, so they are all gone out of the way, and together become unprofitable; and Christ engaged with his Father to bring them back again, and set them before him; and by his sufferings and death has brought them nigh, which were afar off; as he had wronged his master and was indebted to him, so they have injured the law of God, affronted his justice, and incurred his displeasure; and having owed to him more than ten thousand talents, and having nothing to pay, Christ engaged to satisfy law and justice, to make reconciliation for them, and pay all their debts; all which he has accordingly done; their sins have been placed to his account, imputed to him, and charged upon him; and he has bore them, and the punishment due to them, and so has satisfied for them, and restored that which he took not away,

Albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides; having respect to his conversion, which he was the happy instrument of the apostle was his spiritual father, and he was his son, according to the common faith; he had been the instrument of saving his soul from death; he had been the means of that in the hand of God, which all his riches, and the riches of his friends and relations, could never have procured: the salvation of his soul, his better part, was instrumentally owing to him, and so his whole self; and therefore, what favour might he not ask of him? and what was it he could, or should deny him? this the apostle introduces in a very artificial manner, and does not insist upon it, but suggests, that should he forgive the injuries and debts, he had took upon him to make satisfaction for, it would not be an equivalent to the debt he owed to him. From hence may be observed, how greatly obliged regenerated persons are to those, who have been the means and instruments of their conversion.

I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Philemon 1:19. Promissory note under his own hand, in which by the elsewhere so weighty ἐγὼ Παῦλος (Galatians 5:2; 2 Corinthians 10:1, al.) the friendly humour of the connection is rendered the more palpable through force of contrast. Whether Paul wrote the whole Epistle with his own hand (the usual view; see already Jerome, Chrysostom, and Theodoret), or only from this point onward, cannot be determined. In the latter case the raillery comes out the more prominently.

ἵνα μὴ λέγω σοι κ.τ.λ.] Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:5, and the Latin ne dicam: “est σχῆμα παρασιωπήσεως sive reticentiae, cum dicimus omittere nos velle, quod maxime dicimus,” Grotius. The ἵνα denotes the design which Paul has in the ἔγραψαἀποτίσω; he will, so he represents the matter, by this his note of hand avoid saying to Philemon—what he withal might in strictness have to say to him—that he was yet far more indebted to the apostle. Without sufficient reason, Wiesinger after a harsh and involved fashion attaches ἵνα, notwithstanding the intervening clause, to τοῦτο ἐμοὶ ἐλλόγα, and then takes the σοί, which according to the usual view belongs without emphasis to λέγω, as emphatic (sc. ἐλλόγα); “that reckon to me, not to say: to thee.” So too Hofmann, according to whose arbitrary discovery in the repetition of the ἐγώ the emphatic ἐμοί is held “to continue sounding,” until it finds in the emphatic σοί its antithesis, which cancels it. Why should not Paul, instead of this alleged “making it sound on,” have put the words ἵνα μὴ λέγω σοί, ὅτι κ.τ.λ. (because, according to Hofmann) immediately after τοῦτο ἐμοὶ ἐλλόγα, in order thereupon to conclude this passage with the weighty ἐγὼ Παῦλος κ.τ.λ.? Besides, there would be implied in that emphasizing and antithetic reference of the σοί a pungent turn so directly and incisively putting him to shame, that it would not be in keeping with the whole friendly humorous tone of this part of the letter, which does not warrant us in presupposing a displeasure on Philemon’s part meriting so deeply earnest a putting him to shame (Hofmann). The very shaming hint, which the passage gives, is affectionately veiled in an apparent reticence by ἵνα μὴ λέγω σοι κ.τ.λ. Chrysostom already says aptly: ἐντρεπτικῶς ἅμα καὶ χαρίεντως.

The σοί added to λέγω is in keeping with the confidential tone of the Epistle. Paul would not willingly remind his friend, of his debt.

καὶ σεαυτόν] also thine own self, διʼ ἐμοῦ γὰρ, φησὶ, τῆς σωτηρίας ἀπήλαυσας· καὶ ἐντεῦθεν δῆλον, ὡς τῆς ἀποστολικῆς ἠξιώθη διδασκαλίας ὁ Φιλήμων, Theodoret. Through his conversion he was indebted to the apostle for his own self, namely, as subject of the ξωὴ αἰώνιος. The same view is found at Luke 9:25. See on that passage.

προσοφείλεις] insuper debes, Herod. vi. 59; Dem. 650, 23; Thucyd. vii. 48. 6; Xen. Cyrop. iii. 2. 16, Oec. 20. 1; Polyb. v. 88. 4. 8, viii. 25. 4; Lucian. Sacrif. 4. The conception, namely, is: “not to say to thee, that thou (namely, because I have made thee a Christian) owest to me not merely that, which I have just declared my wish to pay to thee, out also (καί) thine own self besides.” With due attention to the correlation of καί and πρός, the force of the compound would not have been overlooked (Vulgate, Luther, Fliatt, and others).Philemon 1:19. ἐγὼ Παῦλος: “The introduction of his own name gives it the character of a formal and binding signature, cf. 1 Corinthians 16:21, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17” (Lightfoot).—ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί ἀποτίσω: ἔγρ. epistolary aorist, cf. 1 Peter 5:12, 1 John 2:14; 1 John 2:21; 1 John 2:26. Deissmann (op. cit., p. 239) calls attention to the large number of papyri which are acknowledgments of debt (Schuldhandschrift); a stereotyped phrase which these contain is, “I will repay,” usually expressed by ἀποδώσω; in case the debtor is unable to write a representative who can do so expressly adds, “I have written this for him”. The following is an example: “… which we also will repay … besides whatever else there is (ἄλλων ὧν) which we owe over and above … I, Papos, write it for him, because he cannot write”. See also Deissmann’s Neue Bibelstudien, p. 67, under χειρόγραφον. It seems certain from the words ἔγραψα … (cf. also Philemon 1:21) that St. Paul wrote the whole of this epistle himself; this was quite exceptional, as he usually employed an amanuensis; the quasi-private character of the letter would account for this. See, further, Lightfoot’s note on Galatians 6:11.—ἀποτίσω: a stronger form than the more usual ἀποδώσω. As a matter of fact St. Paul, in a large measure, had repaid whatever was due to Philemon by being the means whereby the latter received his slave back, but see Intr. § III.—ἵνα μὴ λέγω σοι: a kind of mental ejaculation, as though St. Paul were speaking to himself; the σοι does not properly belong to the phrase; cf. 2 Corinthians 9:4.—καὶ σεαυτόν: the reference is to Philemon’s conversion, either directly due to St. Paul, or else indirectly through the mission into Asia Minor, which had been the means whereby Philemon had become a Christian; in either case St. Paul could claim Philemon as his spiritual child in the sense that he did in the case of Onesimus (see Philemon 1:10).—μοι προσοφείλεις: “thou owest me over and above”. See farther, on ὀφειλή, Deissmann, Neue Bibelst., p. 48, Licht vom Osten, pp. 46, 239.19. I Paul have written it] Lit., “did write it;” an “epistolary aorist” (Colossians 4:8); “the tense commonly used in signatures” (Lightfoot).—Here, surely, he takes the pen (cp. Colossians 4:18) and writes his indebtedness in autograph, with a formal mention of his own name; then, he gives the pen back to the amanuensis.

“A signature to a deed in ancient or mediæval times would commonly take the form … “I so-and-so” (Lightfoot).

I will] The “I” is emphatic in the Greek.

albeit I do not say] Lit., and better, that I say not, not to say.

thou owest unto me … besides] As if to say, “I am restoring to you Onesimus, made new; this far more than clears any loss he cost you when he fled; thus you are indebted, even in money’s worth, to me; and besides—you owe me yourself.”

thine own self] The converted man “comes to himself” (Luke 15:17) as never before. “It is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17); as it were a new self. Under God, this is due to the human bringer of the converting word; and so to him, under God, the convert feels instinctively a moral indebtedness; he owes him help and service in the new life.Philemon 1:19. Ἐγὼ Παῦλος, I Paul) It was his handwriting.—ἐγὼ ἀποτίσω, I will repay) as a parent is wont to pay the debt of his son. The prisoner writes in good earnest, and with confidence that he would not want the power [of fulfilling his engagement]. But yet he promises conditionally, viz. if Philemon would exact it, Philemon 1:21.—σεαυτὸν, thyself) It cannot be told how great is the obligation which is owed to those who have won souls. External property is due for spiritual benefits, but not by political obligation.—προσοφείλεις, thou even owest) This refers to owes, Philemon 1:18. It is not only fitting that the pardon of Onesimus be granted to me, but thou even owest me thyself.Verse 19. - I Paul have written - write it (Revised Version) - with my own hand, I will repay it. Thus St. Paul took upon himself legally the repayment of the debt. "Prioribus verbis proprie cautio [a bail or security] continetur: his autem constituti obligatio. Hoc Latine dicitur pecuniam constituere: de quo titulus est in Digestis Ἀναδέχεσθαι dicunt Graeci" (Scipio Gentilis). Albeit I do not say to thee, etc.; "though I do not remind thee [while so saying] that thou owest even thyself to me!" Philemon owed to the apostle that debt of which the obligation outweighed every other - the help by which he had been led out of spiritual darkness and brought to the knowledge of the truth. St. Paul was (as we must conclude from this allusion) the "spiritual father" of Philemon - a phrase he himself uses in 1 Corinthians 4:15. I Paul have written, etc.

Rev., write. A promissory note. The mention of his autograph here, rather than at the end of the letter, may indicate that he wrote the whole epistle with his own hand, contrary to his usual custom of employing an amanuensis.

Albeit I do not say (ἵνα μὴ λέγω)

Lit., that I may not say. Connect with I write. I thus give my note of hand that I may avoid saying that thou owest, etc. Rev., that I say not unto thee.

Thou owest (προσοφείλεις)

Lit., owest in addition. I have laid you under obligation, not only for an amount equal to that due from Onesimus, but for yourself as made a Christian through my ministry.

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