Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow laborer,
I. In the text we see AGE AND YOUTH TOGETHER. Not separate, not looking ashamed at each other, not divided by incompatibilities or jealousies, but in union. The young often flee from the old. The old are often impatient with the young. Here is an instance of union. The advantages are obvious.
1. The old will contribute the wisdom of experience.
2. The young will quicken the animation of hope. No doubt temporary difficulties will arise.
II. Though age and youth are together, yet AGE TAKES PRECEDENCE OF YOUTH. It is Paul and Timothy, not Timothy and Paul. A principle of right settles all questions of priority. It is not beautiful, because it is not right, that youth should take precedence of age. There are many ways of taking virtual precedence.
III. Though age takes precedence of youth, yet both age and youth are ENGAGED IN COMMON SERVICE. Paul and Timothy are both servants, it is not Paul the master and Timothy the servant, they are both included under one name. See how one great relationship determines all minor conditions and attitudes; as between themselves, Paul was father, and Timothy was son; Paul was renowned, and Timothy was obscure; Paul was senior, and Timothy was junior; but looked at as before Christ the one Lord, they were both servants. Many reflections arise out of this regulating power of one absorbing relationship or union. The Alps and Apennines are great mountains in themselves; yet they are less than pimples when looked at in their relation to the whole world. The earth itself is a "great globe" to its own inhabitants; it is a mere speck of light to the nearest star. A man who is a very important tradesman in a small town, may not have been so much as heard of in the great city. Through and through life we see how relationships supremely important as between themselves, are modified by one great bond. The right way to take our proper measure, and to chasten our ambition, is to look at the highest relationships of all. The great citizen dwindles into his right proportions when he looks at the Creator; the mighty potentate, when he looks at the King of kings; the philanthropist, when he looks at the Saviour. The noisy, rushing, furious train seems to be going fast; let it look at the flying stars, and be humble! Compared with them it is a lame insect toiling in the dust. Life should never be looked at as merely between one man and another. Look at it as between the finite and the infinite — between the momentary and the eternal — between the ignorant and the omniscient. It will thus be elevated. No man will then think of himself more highly than he ought to think. The Alps will not scorn the molehills.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,