I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers,
I. FOR HIS GRATULATION, OR REJOICING WITH PHILEMON IN HIS GRACES, IT IS SET DOWN IN THE FORM OF THANKSGIVING, "I thank."
1. Where observe, the manner of true Christian congratulating and rejoicing with our friends, for any good thing they have; namely, to rejoice in the Lord; giving Him first of all His due, the praise of all that good they have. The rejoicing of the world is carnal and profane. God is never so much as thought upon. The parties whom we congratulate, they are dignified and almost deified. "Oh, I admire your wisdom, eloquence, learning," etc., will the flatterer, or the inordinate lover of his friend, say. But Paul would say, "I admire the goodness and mercy of God towards you, in enriching you with these gifts, I thank God for your wisdom," etc.; so all the praise is given wholly to God, whereas before it was wholly derived from God to man, and so God was defrauded and defeated of His right. Not that it is unlawful to praise men endued with the graces and gifts of God's Spirit; nay, it is a duty we owe unto them; but it must be performed in that wise sort, that God in the first place be praised; for by this means we shall both in ourselves take away suspicion of flattery, and in our brother commended, suspicion of pride.
2. The title that Paul giveth God in this his thanksgiving, "My God."(1) The privilege of every true Christian. He hath a peculiarity and special propriety in God, that look as a man may say of his inheritance, his house and lands, "These be mine," so he may as truly say of God, "God is mine;" I am righted and interested in Him. This privilege is conferred upon us in the covenant of grace which runs in this tenor, "I will be thy God, and thou shalt be one of My people."(2) The nature of true justifying faith, which is, to apply God in special to the believer. True faith doth not only believe that God is the God of His elect in general, but that He is his God in special, as Paul here saith, "My God."
II. The second effect WHEREBY PAUL DECLARETH HIS LOVE TOWARDS THEM, IS HIS DAILY PRAYING FOR THEM. "Making mention of you always in my prayers."
1. Even in our private and solitary prayers, we must be mindful of our brethren.
2. Observe, that Paul did pray even for those for whom he gave thanks; from whence it followeth, that there is no man so perfect that he hath need only to give thanks for that good he hath received, and not to ask some good thing he wanteth. Unto thanksgiving, there fore, for ourselves or others, petition must be annexed both for the continuance and increase of that good we give thanks for.
III. We may observe, THAT PHILEMON WAS SUCH AN ONE AS MINISTERED TO PAUL JUST OCCASION, AS OF PRAYER, SO LIKEWISE OF THANKSGIVING. We must labour herein to be like him, that others, specially God's ministers, who either see us, or hear of us, may have cause not only to pray for us, but also to praise God for us.
(D. Dyke, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,