Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow laborer,
I. THE HUMILITY OF PAUL, who, though an apostle in the highest degree of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28), yet disdaineth not to yoke himself, not only with the Evangelist Timothy, an inferior degree, but even with an ordinary pastor, Philemon, who was yet of a lower place than Timothy. Art thou a pastor? Speak and do as a pastor to thy fellow pastors, and not as though thou wert an apostle or evangelist.
II. I observe THE CAUSE OF PAUL'S LOVE TO PHILEMON by the conjunction of these two things together, BELOVED AND FELLOW WORKER. The latter is the cause of the former, therefore was Philemon beloved of Paul, because his fellow worker in the ministry. Those that are joined together in the same calling ought in this regard more dearly to love one another. True it is that the general calling of a Christian should be a sufficient bond to knit together in true love the hearts of all Christians. But when to this bond there cometh a second of our special callings, our hearts should be more firmly knit together, that so it might appear that when our hearts shall be linked together by the bond of nature, or Christian and special calling, that a three-fold cord is not easily broken. But where shall we find this sweet conjunction of beloved and fellow worker? In the most men the proverb is verified. One potter envies another. But far be this envy from all Christians of what calling soever, specially of the ministry. The ministers must love together as brethren, and with one heart and hand give themselves to the Lord's business. Far be from them the mind of the monopolists, that they should go about to engross the Word of God to themselves; nay, rather with Moses let them wish that all God's people were prophets.
(D. Dyke, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,