Philemon 1:21
Having confidence in your obedience I wrote to you, knowing that you will also do more than I say.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Philemon 1:21-25 contain the conclusion of the Epistle—hope to visit Philemon soon, salutation, and blessing.

(21) Confidence in thy obedience.—It is curious to notice how, in this conclusion, St. Paul seems to glide, as it were insensibly, out of the tone of entreaty as to an equal, into the authority of a superior. The word “obedience” is found in 2Corinthians 7:15, there in connection with “fear and trembling.” He preferred to appeal to Philemon’s love; he knew that in any case he could rely on his deference.

Do more than I say.—This can hardly refer to anything except the manumission of Onesimus, and possibly his being sent back again to St. Paul. Exactly in this way Christianity was to work out the release of the slave—not by command, but by free and natural inference from its emphatic declaration of his true brotherhood in Christ.

(22) A lodging.—The word often signifies “hospitality” generally, which Philemon might naturally offer in his own house, but which St. Paul would not suggest or ask.

I shall be given unto you.—Literally, as a favour from supreme authority. Comp. the technical and forensic use of the word in Acts 3:14; Acts 25:11 : for good in one case, in the other for evil. If he was so “granted,” it would be by Cæsar instrumentally, by God’s overruling will ultimately. The passage, like Philippians 2:24, but even more definitely, expresses St. Paul’s expectation of a release which might enable him to visit the East again. It is curious that there is no similar allusion in the Colossian Epistle, sent with this.

(23) My fellowprisoner.—Comp. Colossians 4:10, and see Note there. The salutations here correspond exactly in substance (though more condensed in style) with that passage, except that “Jesus, called Justus” (probably unknown to Philemon) is here omitted.

(25) The grace . . .—This form of St. Paul’s usual blessing is found also in Galatians 6:18; Philippians 4:23; 2Timothy 4:22. We notice by the word “your” that, like the opening salutation, it is addressed to all Philemon’s family and “the church in his house.”

Philemon 1:21-22. Having confidence in thy obedience — That thou wilt comply with my request; I wrote — Rather, I have written; to thee — With great freedom; knowing that thou wilt do more than I say — Wilt show Onesimus more kindness than I have expressed. Some commentators think the apostle here insinuates to Philemon, that it would be proper for him to give Onesimus his freedom, and many are of opinion that he actually did so. But withal Αμα δε, but at the same time, that I beseech thee to pardon Onesimus, I request thee also to prepare me a lodging — In Colosse. “The apostle,” says Macknight, “having experienced the advantage of having a hired house of his own in Rome, where he preached the gospel to all who came to him, very prudently desired Philemon to provide for him such another house in Colosse, and not a lodging in Philemon’s own house, as some suppose. It seems he proposed to stay a while in Colosse, and wished to have a house in some frequented part of the city, to receive conveniently all who might be desirous of information concerning his doctrine.” Theodoret observes, that the apostle’s resolution to visit Philemon soon, signified to him in this letter, naturally added weight to his solicitation in behalf of Onesimus. For I trust Ελπιζω, I hope; that through your prayers I shall be given unto you — Shall be restored to liberty. The efficacy which in Scripture is ascribed to prayer, is a great encouragement to the people of God to have recourse to it in all their straits, agreeably to the exhortation and example of Christ and his apostles. But to render prayer effectual, it must, as James observes, (James 1:6,) be offered in faith; that is, in a full persuasion of the wisdom and power, goodness and faithfulness of God, and a confidence in him that, when we ask with sincerity, earnestness, and importunity, what is according to his will, or what his word authorizes us to ask, he will grant our petitions, as far as will be for our good and his glory. See 1 John 5:14-15. On this passage, Whitby justly observes, that if the apostle believed the prayers of angels and departed saints were effectual for procuring blessings to God’s people on earth, it is strange that he hath not, throughout the whole of his epistles, so much as once addressed any prayers to them, or directed others so to do.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.Having confidence in thy obedience - That you would comply with all my expressed desires.

I wrote unto thee - "I have written to you;" to wit, in this Epistle.

Knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say - In all the respects which he had mentioned - in receiving Onesimus, and in his kind treatment of him. He had asked a great favor of him, but he knew that he would go even beyond what he had asked.

21. Having confidence in thy obedience—to my apostolic authority, if I were to "enjoin" it (Phm 8), which I do not, preferring to beseech thee for it as a favor (Phm 9).

thou will also do more—towards Onesimus: hinting at his possible manumission by Philemon, besides, being kindly received.

I have not written this without a confidence that thou in this thing wilt do what I desire of thee, but I write it out of my affection to poor Onesimus, and desire to help him, not doubting of thy readiness to do the thing. Having confidence in thy obedience,.... In his obedience of faith to Christ, and his Gospel; he having been made willing in the day of his power to serve him, as well as to be saved by him; and being constrained by his love, and the Spirit of Christ having wrought in him both to will and to do of his good pleasure:

l wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say; the knowledge the apostle had of Philemon's cheerful obedience to Christ in all the parts of duty, encouraged him to write to him, on this head; believing that he would even do more than he had desired of him.

Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Philemon 1:21. Conclusion of the whole matter of request, and that “as if for a last precaution” (Ewald), with the expression of the confidence, to which his apostolic dignity entitled him (ὑπακοῇ), although in accordance with Philemon 1:8 he has abstained from enjoining. This, as well as the εἰδὼς ὅτι κ.τ.λ., appended by way of climax as an accompanying definition to the πεποιθὼς ὅτι κ.τ.λ., could not but entirely remove any possible hesitation on the part of Philemon and complete the effect of the letter. Comp. already Chrysostom and Jerome.

καὶ ὑπὲρ ὃ λέγω] what, i.e. what further deeds of kindness over and above the receiving back which was asked for, the apostle leaves absolutely to his friend, without, however, wishing to hint in particular at the manumission of Onesimus (Bleek and Hofmann, following older expositors); comp. on Philemon 1:13 f. The certainty, however, that his friend will do still more, makes him the less doubt that at the least what is requested will be done. Thus there is contained in this εἰδὼς κ.τ.λ. a thoughtfully contrived incitement.

λέγω] namely, in that which I have written. Observe the different tenses.

καί] not merely that which I say, but also.Philemon 1:21. τῇ ὑπακοῇ σου: a hint regarding the authority which St. Paul has a right to wield.—ἔγραψα: see note on Philemon 1:19.—ὑπὲρ ἅ: as it stands this is quite indefinite, but there is much point in Lightfoot’s supposition that the thought of the manumission of Philemon was in St. Paul’s mind; “throughout this epistle the idea would seem to be present to his thoughts, though the word never passes his lips. This reserve is eminently characteristic of the Gospel. Slavery is never directly attacked as such, but principles are inculcated which must prove fatal to it.”—λέγω: note the tense here, a very vivid touch after ἔγραψα.21. thy obedience] The obedience of love, as to a father and benefactor. Cp. Php 2:12. Not love of authority, but a tender gravity in a case so near his heart, speaks here.

I wrote] Better, in English epistolary idiom, I have written.

also do more than I say] He means, surely, that Philemon will emancipate his slave-brother. But he does not say so in set terms. “The word emancipation seems to be trembling on his lips, and yet he does not once utter it” (Lightfoot, p. 389).—See further Introd., ch. 4.Philemon 1:21. Ποιήσεις, thou wilt do) towards Onesimus.Verse 21. - I wrote unto thee; write (Revised Version; see Ver. 19), or perhaps referring back, as in Ver. 19, to the request in Ver. 17. The strong, fervid, and repeated appeals of the apostle had not been caused by distrust of Philemon, nor of their own efficacy, but were the natural outcome of the strong interest he felt in the case of Onesimus, and the desire he felt to replace him in the favor of his master; partly also, perhaps, to the warmth and fervor of his natural character, which uttered itself involuntarily in forcible expressions. More than I say (ὑπέρ)

Beyond. Possibly hinting at manumission.

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