Philemon 1:18
If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;
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(18) If he hath wronged thee.—Properly, If he wronged thee, evidently referring to the time of Onesimus’ escape. “If he oweth thee ought” is similarly, in all probability, an allusion to some theft at the same time, couched in a hypothetical form, but implying no doubt as to the fact.

Put that on mine account.—Comp. a similar commercial metaphor in Philippians 4:15-17, and see Note there. It is strangely out of character with the whole tone of the Apostolic life to imagine (as some commentators have done) a regular debtor and creditor account between Philemon and St. Paul.

1:15-22 When we speak of the nature of any sin or offence against God, the evil of it is not to be lessened; but in a penitent sinner, as God covers it, so must we. Such changed characters often become a blessing to all among whom they reside. Christianity does not do away our duties to others, but directs to the right doing of them. True penitents will be open in owning their faults, as doubtless Onesimus had been to Paul, upon his being awakened and brought to repentance; especially in cases of injury done to others. The communion of saints does not destroy distinction of property. This passage is an instance of that being imputed to one, which is contracted by another; and of one becoming answerable for another, by a voluntary engagement, that he might be freed from the punishment due to his crimes, according to the doctrine that Christ of his own will bore the punishment of our sins, that we might receive the reward of his righteousness. Philemon was Paul's son in the faith, yet he entreated him as a brother. Onesimus was a poor slave, yet Paul besought for him as if seeking some great thing for himself. Christians should do what may give joy to the hearts of one another. From the world they expect trouble; they should find comfort and joy in one another. When any of our mercies are taken away, our trust and hope must be in God. We must diligently use the means, and if no other should be at hand, abound in prayer. Yet, though prayer prevails, it does not merit the things obtained. And if Christians do not meet on earth, still the grace of the Lord Jesus will be with their spirits, and they will soon meet before the throne to join for ever in admiring the riches of redeeming love. The example of Onesimus may encourage the vilest sinners to return to God, but it is shamefully prevented, if any are made bold thereby to persist in evil courses. Are not many taken away in their sins, while others become more hardened? Resist not present convictions, lest they return no more.If he hath wronged thee - Either by escaping from you, or by failing to perform what he had agreed to, or by unfaithfulness when he was with you as a servant, or by taking your property when he went away. Any of these methods would meet all that is said here, and it is impossible to determine in which of them he had done Philemon wrong. It may be observed, however, that the apostle evinces much delicacy in this matter. He does not say that he had wronged him, but he makes a supposition that he might have done it. Doubtless, Philemon would suppose that he had done it, even if he had done no more than to escape from him, and, whatever Paul's views of that might be, he says that even if it were so, he would wish him to set that over to his account. He took the blame on himself, and asked Philemon not to remember it against Onesimus.

Or oweth thee ought - It appears from this, that Onesimus, whatever may have been his former condition, was capable of holding property, and of contracting debts. It is possible that he might have borrowed money of Philemon, or he may have been regarded as a tenant, and may not have paid the rent of his farm, or the apostle may mean that he had owed him service which he had not performed. Conjecture is useless as to the way in which the debt had been contracted.

Put that on mine account - Reckon, or impute that to me - εμοὶ ἐλλόγα emoi elloga. This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in Romans 5:13, where it is rendered imputed. See the notes at that passage. It means to "reckon;" to put to one's account, to wit, what properly belongs to him, or what he assumes. It never implies that that is to be charged on one which does not properly belong to him, either as his own act, or as that which he has assumed. In this case, it would have been manifestly unjust for Philemon to charge the wrong which Onesimus had done, or what he owed him, to the apostle Paul without his consent; and it cannot be inferred from what Paul says here that it would have been right to do so. The steps in the case were these:

(1) Onesimus, not Paul, had done the wrong.

(2) Paul was not guilty of it, or blameworthy for it, and never in any way, or by any process, could be made to be, or conceived to be. It would be true forever that Onesimus and not he had done the wrong.

(3) Paul assumed the debt and the wrong to himself. He was willing, by putting himself in the place of Onesimus, to bear the consequences, and to have Onesimus treated as if he had not done it. When he had voluntarily assumed it, it was right to treat him as if he had done so; that is, to hold him responsible. A man may assume a debt if he pleases, and then he may be held answerable for it.

(4) if he had not assumed this himself, it never could have been right for Philemon to charge it on him. No possible supposition could make it right. No agency which he had in the conversion of Onesimus; no friendship which he had for him; no favor which he had shown him, could make it right. The consent, the concurrence on the part of Paul was absolutely necessary in order that he should be in any way responsible for what Onesimus had done.

(5) the same principle prevails in imputation everywhere.

(a) What we have done is chargeable upon us.

(b) If we have not done a thing, or have not assumed it by a voluntary act, it is not right to charge it upon us.

(c) God reckons things as they are.

The Saviour voluntarily assumed the place of man, and God reckoned, or considered it so. He did not hold him guilty or blameworthy in the case; but as he had voluntarily taken the place of the sinner, he was treated as if he had been a sinner. God, in like manner, does not charge on man crimes of which he is not guilty. He does not hold him to be blameworthy, or ill-deserving for the sin of Adam, or any other sin but his own. He reckons things as they are. Adam sinned, and he alone was held to be blameworthy or ill-deserving for the act. By a divine constitution (compare the notes at Romans 5:12, following), he had appointed that if he sinned, the consequences or results should pass over and terminate on his posterity - as the consequences of the sin of the drunkard pass over and terminate on his sons, and God reckons this to be so - and treats the race accordingly. He never reckons those to be guilty who are not guilty; or those to be ill-deserving who are not ill-deserving; nor does he punish one for what another has done. When Paul, therefore, voluntarily assumed a debt or an obligation, what he did should not be urged as an argument to prove that it would be right for God to charge on all the posterity of Adam the sin of their first father, or to hold them guilty for an offence committed ages before they had an existence. The case should be adduced to demonstrate one point only - that when a man assumes a debt, or voluntarily takes a wrong done upon himself, it is right to hold him responsible for it.

(See the subject of imputation discussed in the supplementary notes, Romans 5:12, Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:19, 2 Corinthians 5:21 notes; Galatians 3:13 note.)

18. Greek, "But it (thou art not inclined to 'receive him' because) he hath wronged thee"; a milder term than "robbed thee." Onesimus seems to have confessed some such act to Paul.

put that on mine account—I am ready to make good the loss to thee if required. The latter parts of Phm 19, 21, imply that he did not expect Philemon would probably demand it.

If he hath any way been unfaithful. If he hath taken any thing from thee, or be in thy debt, charge that upon me, let me be accountable to thee for it.

If he hath wronged thee,.... By squandering away his time, spoiling his work, or corrupting his fellow servants:

or oweth thee ought; by embezzling his master's goods, robbing him of his money, and running away from his service:

put that on mine account; Signifying that he would be answerable for all, and make good all debts and damages.

If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;
Philemon 1:18. And herein the offence against thee, with which Onesimus is chargeable, is not to present an obstacle.

εἰ] indication in a hypothetic form, so as to spare the feelings: Attic politeness, see Herbst, ad Xen. Mem. i. 5. 1; Bornem. ad Conviv. iv. 3; Winer, p. 418 [E. T. 562].

τι ἠδίκησέ σε] Comp. Colossians 3:25; Galatians 4:12; Acts 25:10. In what the wrong done to Philemon by Onesimus, and without doubt confessed to the apostle by the latter, actually consisted, is hinted in what follows.

ἢ ὀφείλει or—more precisely to describe this ἠδίκησε]—oweth (anything). This applies to a money-debt (see Philemon 1:19). Accordingly the slave had probably been guilty, not merely in general of a fault in service which injured his master (Hofmann), but in reality (comp. already Chrysostom) of purloining or of embezzlement, which Paul here knows how to indicate euphemistically. The referring it merely to the running away itself, and the neglect of service therewith connected, would not be (in opposition to Bleek) in keeping with the hypothetical form of expression.

τοῦτο] the τί, which he ἠδίκησέ σε ἢ ὀφείλει; hence we have not, with Grotius, Fliatt, and others, to explain these two verbs of different offences (the former as referring to theft at his running away, the latter to defalcation).

ἐμοὶ ἐλλόγα] set it down to my account; “me debitorem habe,” Bengel. Friendly pleasantry, which in Philemon 1:19 becomes even jocular (μετὰ χάριτος τῆς πνευματικῆς, Chrysostom), with which the subsequent ἵνα μὴ λέγω σοι κ.τ.λ. is very compatible (in opposition to Hofmann), if it is correctly apprehended. On the form ἐλλογάω we have not, with Fritzsche, ad Rom. v. 13, at once to pronounce against it: “nulla est” (comp. Matthies: “stultum est”), since ἐλλογέω likewise is only with certainty preserved in Rom. l.c., and in Boeckh, Inscr. I. p. 850. It is true λογάω, in Lucian, Lexiph. 15, means to be fond of speaking; but this single passage, in which the simple form is preserved, does not suffice to negative the use of the word in the sense of reckoning.

Philemon 1:18. εἰ δὲ τι: as Lightfoot says, the case is stated hypothetically, but the words doubtless describe the actual offence of Onesimus.—ἐλλόγα: only elsewhere in N.T. in Romans 5:13; it occurs on the papyri (Deissmann, op. cit., p. 52), “to reckon unto”; here, in the sense: “put it down to my account”.

18. If he hath wronged thee] Lit., But if he wronged thee, before, or when, he fled. See on Philemon 1:11. Horace (Sat., 1. i. 78) says how the anxious master “fears lest his slaves should pillage him and fly” (ne te compilent fugientes).

oweth] The slave might be trusted by his master with money for purchases; or he might work at a trade, or do casual service for others, his master claiming the proceeds. Thus he might be his owner’s debtor. See Smith’s Dict. of Greek and Roman Antiquities, art. Servus.

put that on mine account] Latin Versions, hoc mihi imputa; Wyclif, “asette thou this thing to me.”—Such collections as the Philippians sent (Php 4:10-18) enabled him to offer this generous guarantee.

Philemon 1:18. Εἰ δέ τε, but if anything) A gentle expression. Onesimus had confessed to Paul what he had done.—ἢ ὀφείλει, or owes) A milder synonym is put after the verb wronged.—ἐλλόγει) Hesychius, ἐλλόγει, i.e. καταλόγησαι. Consider me the debtor.

Verse 18. - [But] if he hath wronged thee [at all]. It would have been needlessly irritating to Philemon to go into the details of Onesimus's offences. No doubt St. Paul had had an account of them from the repentant youth, but he had far too much tact to occupy himself and Philemon in the discussion of details. The hypothetic form avoids the whole of these. It suffices that he assumes the responsibility of repayment. Owes thee anything. As a matter of moral right at the bar of conscience. For in a secular court the slave could be neither debtor nor creditor, properly speaking, as against his master. This offence was probably embezzlement or purloining while in service. A, C, D*, F, G, א read (elloga), reckon it to me. Philemon 1:18If he hath wronged (εἰ ἠδίκδσεν)

The indicative mood with the conditional particle may imply that what is put hypothetically is really a fact: if he wronged thee as he did.


Perhaps indicating that Onesimus had been guilty of theft. Notice the general word wronged instead of the more exact specification of the crime.

Put that on my account (τοῦτο ἐμοι ἐλλόγα)

For the verb, compare Romans 5:13 (note).

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