Yes, brother, let me have some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
The apostle now becomes more personal in his urgency. "Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my heart in Christ."
I. CHRISTIANS OUGHT TO AIM AT THE SPIRITUAL GRATIFICATION OF EACH OTHER. It is not well to make the hearts of the righteous sad (Ezekiel 13:22). The apostle had care and anxiety and sadness enough to depress him, and it was natural he should seek some fresh joy from the obedience of his disciples.
II. THE OBEDIENCE OF CHRISTIANS IS A GREAT SOURCE OF REFRESHING TO MINISTERS. The ready obedience of Philemon would revive the drooping spirit of the apostle, and inspire him with fresh vigor. As the refreshing was to be "in the Lord" as the aim of all a Christian's actions, so we see how constantly the apostle rejoiced and gloried in the Lord, and commended his example to his converts and to Christians generally. - T.C.
Let me have joy of thee in the lord
If Philemon receives his slave for Christ's sake and in the strength of that communion with Christ which fits for all virtue, and so for this good deed a deed which is of too high and rare a strain of goodness for his unaided nature then "in Christ" he will be helpful to the apostle. In that case, the phrase expresses the element or sphere in which the act is done. But it may apply rather, or even also, to Paul, and then it expresses the element or sphere in which he is helped and refreshed. In communion with Jesus, taught and inspired by Him, the apostle is brought to such true and tender sympathy with the runaway that his heart is refreshed, as by a cup of cold water, by kindness shown to him. Such keen sympathy is as much beyond the reach of nature as Philemon's kindness would be. Both are "in Christ."
Let me have profit of thee. There is here a play on the slave's name, and the words are equivalent to, "Be thou to me an Onesimus." He would extinguish the rising feeling of conscious merit and of boasting Philemon might entertain in compliance, and reminds him that by such compliance he would still be less helpful to him than had been Onesimus. He had Paul's messenger, servant, fellow worshipper, and friend, and all he would have Philemon do was so to act as not to allow one of so despised a class to surpass him in generosity. It is good for men that are provoked to emulation by the Christian virtues of those around them. Their presence slays pride and inflames zeal, and invites to effort and to prayer, and makes it matter for shame even should slender abilities and advantages cast superior endowments into shade, should a Philemon be surpassed in Christian feeling and usefulness by an Onesimus.
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