Philemon 1:25

I. SALUTATIONS. These are the expressions of Christian sympathy and kindness.

1. They are the salutations of the apostle's fellow-prisoner. "There salute thee Epaphras my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus."

(1) Epaphras was a Colossian evangelist (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12).

(2) He was imprisoned at Rome in the immediate society of the apostle.

(a) This was an alleviation to both prisoners, on account of their common faith, their common hopes, and their common interests. Epaphras, as probably the younger man, would be very helpful to the apostle.

(b) The cause of the imprisonment in both cases was "in Christ Jesus." They suffered for the preaching of his gospel.

2. They are the salutations of the apostle's fellow-laborers. "Marcus" (Acts 12:12), once temporarily estranged from the apostle, but now at his side; "Aristarchus" (Acts 19:29, 30; Colossians 4:10); "Demas," whose apostasy was yet future (2 Timothy 4:10); "Luke," the beloved physician and evangelist (Colossians 4:14). The apostle was happily circumstanced, even as a prisoner, through the constant or occasional society of these men.

II. PRAYER. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." It is curious to find no allusion to God the Father in this prayer. If Christ is not God, how can we account for such a prayer? It is a simple but beautiful prayer addressed to the whole Philemon household. - T.C.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
1. At the beginning of the Epistle Paul invoked grace upon the household "from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Now he conceives of it as Christ's gift. In Him all the stooping, bestowing love of God is gathered, that from Him it may be poured on the world. That grace is not diffused like stellar light through some nebulous heaven, but concentrated in the Sun of righteousness, who is the light of men. That fire is piled on a hearth that, from it, warmth may ray out to all that are in the house.

2. That grace has man's spirit for the field of its highest operation. Thither it can enter, and there it can abide, in union more close and communion more real and blessed than aught else can attain. The spirit which has the grace of Christ with it can never be utterly solitary or desolate.

3. The grace of Christ is the best bond of family life. Here it is prayed for on behalf of all the group, the husband, wife, child, and the friends in their home — church. Like grains of sweet incense cast on an altar flame, and making fragrant what was already holy, that grace sprinkled on the household fire will give it an odour of a Sweet smell, grateful to men and acceptable to God.

4. That wish is the purest expression of Christian friendship, of which the whole letter is so exquisite an example. Written as it is about a common, everyday matter, which could have been settled without a single religious reference, it is saturated with Christian thought and feeling. So it becomes an example of how to blend Christian sentiment with ordinary affairs, and to carry a Christian atmosphere everywhere. Every Christian ought by his life to be, as it were, floating the grace of God to others sinking for want of it to lay hold of, and all his speech should be of a piece with this benediction.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. First of all, we see here, that as in the entrance of the Epistle, and, as it were, at their first meeting, he wished unto him the Grace of Christ, so he doth in the farewell and departing, hereby teaching that nothing is better or more to be desired than His grace; that all our salutations and farewells should be grounded in His grace; this must be the beginning and the ending of all our talk and communication; and as he began with prayer, so he endeth with prayer. Thus ought our actions to be, that whatsoever we do in word or in deed, we should do all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17). This bringeth good success to our works, and maketh that which we do to prosper.

II. When the Son of God is called Jesus, we observe again that He is a perfect and absolute Saviour; the alone Saviour, inasmuch as the work of our salvation and redemption is wholly and only wrought out by Him, and no part left unfinished and reserved for any creature in heaven or in earth.

III. The Son of God is called Christ, which signifieth as much as anointed.

IV. Let us consider the third title given to the Son of God. He is called our Lord; which teacheth us to acknowledge Him to be the Ruler and Governor of His Church, and of every particular member thereof. And if He be the Governor and Guide, woe unto them that will not be ruled and governed by Him.

V. Observe that the grace here asked for Philemon and others to whom the apostle wrote, is called the grace of Jesus Christ, to teach us that God's graces and benefits come upon us through Him, and as nothing was made without Him that was made, so nothing is given without Him that is given. If, then, we would have right and interest in any of the blessings of God, we must labour to be in Christ and to have assurance that we are in Christ.

(W. Attersoll.)

1. Some explanation of the words of the text, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ."

2. What we may learn from it.

(1)The grand foundation of a sinner's hope.

(2)How to make a practical use of Christian doctrines.

(3)The simplicity of the faith and the fervency of the love of the primitive Church — the Church of the apostle's time.

(R. Cecil, M. A.)

1. Breathes family affection — affection to all who love Christ — affection to them as brethren, for —

(1)They are born of the same Father.

(2)They are taught by the same preceptor.

(3)They are severed from the world and dedicated to God, body, soul, and spirit.

2. Invokes a family blessing — grace — the grace of Christ.

3. Describes family experience. If we have realised the text in our experience, then we have attained the climax of Christian attainments.

(J. Dillon, D. D.)

1. The sum of all other blessings.

2. Obtained through Christ.

3. The greatest happiness we can desire for others.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

1. Its source.

2. Its fulness.

3. Its flow.

4. Its power.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

1. Is needed by all.

2. Is provided for all.

3. Is offered to all.

4. Is supplicated for all.

5. May be enjoyed by all.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Very powerful was the impression which Lady Fanny Shirley on her sick bed made upon the surrounding attendants. Once, as a reigning beauty at Court, Chesterfield had addressed to her some of his most famous epigrams; since then she chose that better part which could never be taken from her. "I am quite at a loss to explain how Lady Fanny is enabled to bear such a severity of suffering with so much tranquillity and so few symptoms of restlessness and murmuring," said her physician to Mr. Venn. "Can you account for it, sir?" "Sir," answered Venn, "that lady happily possesses what you and I ought daily to pray for, the grace of her Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost."

With a prayer for this grace Paul had opened the Epistle, and with a prayer for this grace he now will close. It is the most all-inclusive wish for good he can indite in so few words — the free and saving favour of the Lord, with all its holy and happy influences for soul and body, for time and for eternity. This grace sanctifies earth's fellowships, and protects them from degeneracy and social corruption. It raises life above the entanglements of ennui and chagrin, of cynicism and despair. It weans the heart from the world, without permitting it to be soured. It lends dignity to suffering, and gilds the gloom of sorrow with radiant hope. To the apostle had been often verified the soul-sustaining words, "My grace is sufficient for thee." As the day grows, the warmth increases and the shadows flee away; so, as grace is realised, the heart basks and suns itself in the glow of heaven's love, and everything gets bathed in heaven's own light.

(A. H. Drysdale, M. A.)

Amen — This is set down in a word, and yet it containeth more than the prayer itself. For in prayer we testify our desire, by this we witness our faith. By this we observe that unto our requests and petitions in prayer must be joined faith and belief that God will grant the things craved. To pray without faith is not to pray at all. And to say amen in the end of our prayers, and yet to pray with doubting, and without believing, is to make a lie and to teach our tongues to deceive our hearts. For this is a great jar and discord when infidelity is in the heart and faith in the tongue; when inwardly we waver, and outwardly the mouth uttereth amen. Moreover, so often as we use public prayers they must be pronounced and delivered with that plainness, feeling, and zeal, as that the people, being thereby moved, and their faith and affections going with that which is delivered and prayed for, may answer amen unto that which is desired. This is it which the apostle teacheth (1 Corinthians 14).

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