Philemon 1:22
Prepare me... a lodging. Their prayers he hoped would open the door for him to come and see them. He knew that the golden key of prayer had opened many doors closed as fast as his own.

I. A LODGING SEEMS ALL HE EVER HAD. And not always had he that. A prison can scarcely be called a lodging - for, in one sense, when we lodge we have protection and rest, and are at liberty in our onward journey in life. This man gave up friends, country, home, for Christ's sake, and now he is completing his course and gives up dear life itself. Will he ever have this lodging? No; it is the time of his first imprisonment; he is treated as a malefactor, and we know what his end will be.

II. HIS NEXT LODGING-PLACE WILL BE THE GRAVE. But, in one sense, the idea that we associate with this resting-place was not fulfilled in his life. His death was probably one by the lions, or the executioner's axe, or the cross, which would leave even his poor body a prey to cruel bands.

III. HIS LODGING WAS TO GIVE PLACE TO HOME. Soon now, very soon, his words were fulfilled, "I have finished my course... henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." Here the volume of his life, illustrated with so many etchings from his own hands of his pains, forsakements, temptations, and tribulations, now comes to a close. "Finis" is written upon all. Yet it is not Vale, vale, in aeternum vale! that we inscribe upon his aims and hopes. No; it is the catacomb motto, In peace; for henceforth he enjoys the immortal reward, the great peace; he is at rest in God. - W.M.S.







Prepare me also a lodging
1. If St. Paul's direction here arose from a real anxiety upon the subject of the "lodging" itself, we shall not be likely to suppose that he required much comfort or preparation for an ample retinue. The lodgings, as happily says, "were for the apostles rather than for Paul. He anticipated a large concourse of hearers. This would involve a situation convenient of access; large enough to hold a number of people; in a locality of good report, and undisturbed by a troublesome neighbourhood."

2. St. Paul had evidently changed his plans since writing Romans 15:24-28. With this verse cf. Philippians 2:24.

3. Rhetorically, this request would tell doubly —(1) "Prepare me a lodging, or arrange for me at an inn. Nay, surely he will be the honoured and beloved guest of Philemon and Apphia. Will not Onesimus be there? And in what position?(2) St. Paul wrote to a true and devoted friend. This simple direction would excite hope and joy, the passions which beyond all others make the human heart unable to refuse anything to those whom it loves.

(Bp. Wm. Alexander.)

A thought concerning himself, introduced here not for the sake of himself, but because, as he adds, they prayed to God that his presence might be vouchsafed to them, not only for their personal gratification, but that he might impart to them some spiritual gift as an apostle (Romans 1:11; cf. Philippians 1:25; Philippians 2:24), where a similar hope of liberation is expressed.

(Bp. Chris. Wordsworth.)

Whereas, therefore, Philemon might have thought with himself, and thus reasoned touching Paul's suit. "It skilleth not whether I grant it or not, he hath been a most lewd servant unto me, and Paul liveth far off from me, he is held in prison at Rome; either he will not hear what becometh of Onesimus, or if he does hear, peradventure he shall never be delivered out of prison, but remain a prisoner all the days of his life; and therefore I will deal with Onesimus as seemeth good to myself." These and such like imaginations the apostle putteth out of his head, and telleth him he should shortly look for his coming unto him, whereby he should know what account he made of his words, and what obedience he would yield to his request. Hence it is that for this cause Paul craveth to have lodging prepared for him rather by Philemon than any other citizen at Colosse; not that he required much provision and preparation to be made for his entertainment, who had taught others, and learned himself to be content with a little, but because by this commandment, as by a sharp sword, he would pierce the bowels of Philemon, and as by a strong engine, batter the fort and bulwark of his heart, and thoroughly persuade him and prevail with him to receive Onesimus, both into his house and into his favour.

(W. Attersoll.)

I. ITS DEPENDENCE (ver. 22).

1. On God. His restoration would be an act of Divine grace.

2. On each other. Mutual dependence a privilege as well as necessity. Includes —

(1)Intercession.

(2)Hospitality.

II. ITS RECIPROCATION (vers. 23, 24).

1. Of faith and feeling. As a thousand particles of iron are held together by invisible magnetic current, so the hearts of men by unseen force of faith in Jesus and love for Him.

2. Of labour and endurance. The first named in the salutation is more than a fellow worker. He had joined the apostle in combat with the powers of darkness, and now shared his captivity.

III. ITS BENEDICTION. (ver. 25).

1. Testimony concerning Christ. Main teachings of the gospel concerning Him concentrated here.(1) That He is alive and a Divine Benefactor.(2) Anointed "Lord." Appellative of Jehovah in Old Testament. So in Colossians 1:16; John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:2. Equal with God, whose grace alone can sustain the spirit of men.(3) Faith in Him the origin and power of all worthy life (ver. 5, 6). No good done without His grace. All and in all.

2. Teaching for followers of Christ. Grace of Christ the supreme fount of goodness and blessing. The Alpha and Omega of joyfulness and power. Thence comes —

(1)Forgiveness (Matthew 1:21; Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:7, 9).

(2)Renovation. Onesimus a "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

(3)Sanctification (2 Corinthians 5:21).

(4)Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30; Colossians 2:3; Ephesians 1:8).

(5)Hope (Romans 5:2; 1 Peter 1:3-8).

(6)Consolation (2 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Hebrews 4:15). All we need and can wish.

(A. W. Johnson.)

I. THIS DUTY IS URGED UPON US BY DIVERS EXAMPLES IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.

1. It is to be practised of us because it is the commandment of God that we should love and lodge strangers, and show all pity and compassion toward them, to succour them in their necessity. This it is which Moses saith, "Love ye the stranger, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 10). Hereunto cometh the rule of the apostle, "Distribute to the necessities of the saints, give yourselves to hospitality" (Romans 12). This is the precept of the apostle Peter, "Be ye harbourers one towards another without grudging" (1 Peter 4:9). Seeing, therefore, God commandeth, it is our part to obey, and submit ourselves to His will and pleasure.

2. As God requireth this duty of us, so we have His own example to teach it unto us. It is a property of God to love strangers, and therefore to be imitated and followed of all that belong unto Him. This reason is expressed in Deuteronomy 10:18.

3. God doth greatly honour such as honour strangers. They have been so far honoured by God as that angels have entered into their houses, been entertained by them, and have blessed them.

II. THE DOCTRINE BEING THUS CLEARED, THE USES REMAIN TO BE SHOWED.

1. This declareth that hospitality is a commendable virtue, and a worthy fruit of love; yea, an excellent ornament in the children of God, whereby they receive good report of the Church.

2. Secondly, this doctrine serveth for reproof. Of all, of such as think that hospitality consisteth in feasting and keepeth great cheer, and bidding the rich to their tables; whereas the Scripture understandeth by it a courteous entertainment of such poor Christians as are banished out of their countries.

2. This meeteth with the corruption of our times, we cannot abide those that are strangers, but are enemies to the very name when we hear of it. But all neglect of them and injurious dealing towards them is a great sin, and such as are haters of strangers are grievous sinners.

3. It is our duty to take the opportunity offered unto us of God; nay, it is required of us to seek the opportunity to express our obedience to God, and our love to our people, in doing all good to such as stand in need.

4. Lastly, it is a great comfort and peace to a man's conscience that God will in His Son Christ regard him, when with a single heart he hath been careful to testify his love toward distressed strangers for the truth's sake. Let us rejoice in this consolation, that we shall be assured that God will pity us when we have thus pitied others.

(W. Attersoll.)

It is a known observation that letters do not blush. What men would be ashamed to ask in person, that they are bold enough to ask by letter; and it is as true that the readers of letters do not blush; they are hardy enough to deny that to their absent friends, which they could not refuse them if present. The apostle therefore intimates to Philemon his intention to visit him shortly, who must for that reason be the more inclined to gratify him as not being able to look him in the face and to bear his presence, if he should deny him this small, this reasonable, this importunate request.

(Bp. Smalridge.)

I trust that through your prayers
The limits of Paul's expectation as to the power of his brethren's prayers for temporal blessings are worth noting. He does believe that these good people in Colosse could help him by prayer for his liberation, but he does not believe that their prayer will certainly be heard. In some circles much is said now about "the prayer of faith" — a phrase which,, singularly enough, is in such cases almost confined to prayers for external blessing, — and about its power to bring money for work, which the person praying believes to be desirable, or to send away diseases. But surely there can be no "faith" without a definite Divine word to lay hold of. Faith and God's promise are correlative; and unless a man has God's plain promise that A.B. will be cured by his prayer, the belief that he will is not faith but something deserving a much less noble name. The prayer of faith is not forcing our wills on God, but bending our will to God's. The prayer which Christ has taught in regard to all outward things is, "Not my will, but Thine be done," and "May Thy will become mine" That is the prayer of faith, which is always answered. The Church prayed for Peter, and he was delivered. The Church, no doubt, prayed for Stephen, and he was stoned. Was, then, the prayer for him refused? Not so, but if it were prayer at all, the inmost meaning of it was, "Be it as Thou wilt"; and that was accepted and answered. Petitions for outward blessings, whether for the petitioner or for others, are to be presented with submission; and the highest confidence which can be entertained concerning them is that which Paul here expresses: "I hope that through your prayers I shall be set free."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

1. In regard of the love, which is due from people to minister. People are bound to love their pastors. Now love seeks not her own things. He that prays not for his minister, loves him not.

2. In regard of their great charge wherewithal they are betrusted. A charge of greater worth than all the world — the soul of their people. The greater the charge the greater the gifts required to discharge it. The more graces they need the more earnest should our prayers be to procure the same.

3. In regard of their danger as in the former point. They are in danger of Satan's malice, he knows if he can but with his tail cause these stars to fall from heaven, that he shall cause the greater darkness and the greater scandal; their corruption in life or doctrine will be exemplary and infectious. They are also in danger of unreasonable men (2 Thessalonians 3:2). The greater reason that they should be holpen with our prayers.

4. Pray for your ministers, because in praying for them you pray for yourselves, and procuring their good you procure your own. The better ministers are, the better is it for people. Many people complain of the insufficiency of their teachers, and as many ministers may complain of the negligence of their people. For if they were more diligent in prayer their ministers would be more able to preach if they would pray more for them, then should they be able to preach better unto them. What be the things we should beg for them? Paul specifies some particulars, wherein he would be remembered. As —

(1)Free and bold utterance of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 4:3, 4).

(2)Free passage of his ministry (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

(3)Deliverance from wicked men (Romans 15:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3).

(4)Other particulars are mentioned (Romans 15:31).

(D. Dyke, B. D.)

I shall be given unto you
The meaning of the apostle is thus much in effect. The prayers of the saints shall prevail with God, and being offered up for my deliverance, shall not return to them without comfort, nor ascend to Him without effect, nor concern me without profit. Notwithstanding, albeit, they shall not go empty away, but have their full force and power, yet it is to be acknowledged and learned that they so obtain, as that my deliverance is to be wrought out by the free gift of His grace, not by the merit and desert of your prayers. If we would know the causes and reasons why the graces of God are freely bestowed upon us, and nothing given for our deserts.

1. Let us consider that all matter of boasting is taken from us, and God will have the glory of His own work, and the praise of His mercy.

2. There are no such properties in any man's works as that they can merit, or proceed from any other fountain than grace. Let us therefore see what properties are necessarily required in works to make them meritorious.(1) They must be done of a man of himself, and by himself; but we have nothing of our own to give Him, but are most poor men and mere beggars, and can but pay God with His own. Without Him, therefore, we can do nothing; it is He that must work in us the will and the deed.(2) They must be such works as are not due unto Him, they must not be due debt, they must come from our own free will, they must be such as God cannot justly challenge at our hands. We are miserable bankrupts, we have nothing, we have less than nothing to pay.(3) The work must be done to the benefit and profit of Him, from whom we look to be repayed. But our goodness and well doing reacheth not to the Lord (Psalm 16). We may benefit men, but we cannot benefit our Maker, from whom we have received soul and body. Now they that cannot give anything to God can deserve nothing from Him.(4) Whatsoever is imperfect cannot stand in the presence of the most just and perfect God. We must bring nothing before Him but that which is absolute and able to bear and sustain His wrath. But all that we do offer, or can offer, unto God is maimed and imperfect. Lastly, the work and the reward must be in proportion equal, for if the reward be more than the work it is not a reward of desert, but a gift of good will. For grace and glory are unmatchable, no price can purchase them, no merits can match them. This doctrine being thoroughly strengthened, let us see what uses may be grounded from thence.(1) We learn from thence that seeing God giveth not by desert, but of His mercy; that whatsoever we have obtained and received by any prayer, or other means from the hand of God, we must ascribe all to the glory and praise of His name, and acknowledge Him to be the Author and Giver.(2) As by the free bestowing of the graces of God we are taught to give Him all possible praise, so it taketh away all opinion of the merits of works wherein proud flesh is ready to trust. Lastly, seeing all God's gifts come from Him to us of grace and mercy, it is our duty, above all things, to desire mercy, and to crave the free gifts of God.

(W. Attersoll.)

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