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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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Commentary on The Letter of Paul to Philemon

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1–3 : Salutation.

The form is usual in ancient letters.

2 :

Church … at your house: as yet no church edifices existed.

4–7 : Prayer of thanksgiving.

Such prayers are usual in Paul's letters; see Rom. 1.8–15 , where he begins with “thanking my God.”

8–21 : The plea for Onesimus.

10 :

Child … father: see 1 Cor. 4.15 .

11 :

Useless … useful indeed: the name Onesimus means “the useful one”; the verse puns on the name.

13–14 :

Perhaps Paul is here hinting that Philemon should send the slave back to continue his service to the apostle.

15–16 :

Paul acknowledges Philemon's right to have Onesimus back for good, although the apostle's own hope is expressed in v. 14 . In any case, Philemon will henceforth know Onesimus as a brother, rather than merely as a slave.

19 :

The signature is this verse and perhaps the following ones: see 1 Cor. 16.21–24 n. Owe me: an allusion to Paul's conversion of Philemon.

23–24 :

These companions of Paul are mentioned also in Col. 4.10, 11, 14 .

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