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Salutation vv. 1-3

v. 3

v. 1a
v. 1b
v. 2
v. 3
v. 1a
v. 1b-2

v. 3

v. 1a
vv. 1b-2

v. 3

vv. 1-3
Philemon's Love and Faith
vv. 4-7
Philemon's Love and Faith
vv. 4-7
Philemon's Love and Faith
vv. 4-7
Thanksgiving and Prayer
vv. 4-7
Paul Pleads for Onesimus
vv. 8-16

vv. 17-20

The Plea for Onesimus
vv. 8-16

Philemon's Obedience Encouraged
vv. 17-22

Paul's Plea for Onesimus
vv. 8-16

vv. 17-21

A Request for Onesimus
vv. 8-11
vv. 12-14
vv. 15-16

vv. 17-20
vv. 21-22

The Request about Onesimus vv. 8-21

v. 21-22

  Concluding Hopes and Greetings
v. 22
  A Personal Request. Good Wishes
v. 22
Final Greetings
vv. 23-25
vv. 23-25

vv. 23-24
v. 25
Final Greetings
vv. 23-24
v. 25

vv. 23-23
v. 25

* Although they are not inspired, paragraph divisions are the key to understanding and following the original author's intent. Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way. As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions.
In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects (paragraphs), then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspired—readers have no right to change or modify the message. Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives.
Note that all technical terms and abbreviations are explained fully in the following documents: Brief Definitions of Greek Grammatical Structure Textual Criticism, and Glossary.

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one main subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


 1a, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

v. 1 "Paul" The Greek name Paulos meant "little." Several theories have been advanced about the origin of his Greek name.

1. a nickname describing his physical height, from a second century tradition that Paul was short, fat, bald, bowlegged, bushy eyebrowed, and had protruding eyes, which came from a non-canonical book from Thessalonica called Paul and Thekla, is a possible source of the name

2. Paul's personal spiritual evaluation, he often called himself the "least of the saints" because he persecuted the Church as in Acts 9:1-2 (cf. I Cor. 15:9; Eph. 3:8; I Tim. 1:15)

3. most Jews of the diaspora (Jews living outside of Palestine) were given two names at birth; one Hebrew (Saul) and one Hellenistic (Paul)


▣ "a prisoner" The NT specifically states that Paul was in prison three times: (1) in Caesarea; (2) in Philippi; and (3) in Rome (with a possible allusion to imprisonment at Ephesus, cf. I Cor. 15:32; II Cor. 1:8). This writer assumes a Roman imprisonment in the early 60's.

Because of the loving pastoral nature of this brief letter, many commentators have assumed that Paul chose this title instead of his usual opening affirmation of his apostleship.

▣ "Christ Jesus" The variety of the titles for Jesus used in this short letter is amazing. Notice: Christ Jesus; v. 1; the Lord Jesus, Christ, v. 3; the Lord Jesus, v. 5; Christ, v. 8; Christ Jesus, v. 9; the Lord, and Christ, v. 20; Christ Jesus, v. 23; and the Lord Jesus Christ, v. 25.

 "Christ" is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew term "messiah," which means "an anointed one" (see Special Topic at Col. 1:1). It implied "one called and equipped by God for a specific task." In the OT three groups of leaders were anointed: priests, kings, and prophets. Jesus fulfilled all three of these anointed offices (cf. Heb. 1:2-3).

"Jesus" meant "YHWH saves" or "salvation is of YHWH" (cf. Matt. 1:21). It was the OT name "Joshua." "Jesus" is derived from the Hebrew word for salvation, "hosea," suffixed to the covenant name for God, "YHWH" (see Special Topic at Col. 1:3).

"Timothy" His name meant "honored by God" or "honorer of God." He was converted through Paul's witness on the first missionary journey to Derbe/Lystra (cf. Acts 26:1). Paul invited him to join the missionary team on the second missionary journey, possibly to replace John Mark (cf. Acts 15:36-41). He had a Jewish mother and a Greek father (Acts 16:1; II Tim. 1:5). Paul circumcised him to facilitate his work among the Jews (cf. Acts. 16:3). He became Paul's faithful representative, disciple and troubleshooter (cf. Acts 16:1-17:14; 18:5-19:22; 20:4; Rom. 16:21; I Cor. 4:17; 16:10; II Cor. 1:1, 19; Phil 1:2; 2:19; Gal. 1:1; Philem. v. 4; and the two books I Timothy and II Timothy).

He is mentioned with Paul in several letters (cf. I Cor. 4:12; 16:10; II Cor. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:1; I Thess. 1:1; II Thess. 1:1; I Tim. 1:2; II Tim. 1:2). This does not imply co-authorship, but Timothy's presence and greetings. Timothy may have functioned as Paul's secretary, or scribe, as did Silas, Tertius, and Tychicus.

 1bTo Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, 2 and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

▣ "Philemon" an active member of the church of Colossae. This person is only mentioned in this letter. Apparently the local church at Colossae met in his home. Paul's comments to him imply that he personally knew this man. Epaphras, not Paul, started the church in Colossae (cf. Col. 1:6-7), therefore, Paul must have met him earlier, possibly in Ephesus (vv. 10, 19). However, it is remotely possible that Paul did not know him personally (cf. v. 5) and that Epaphras informed him about this man's ministry.

v. 2 "Apphia" This is possibly Philemon's wife, because her name appears second.

▣ "Archippus" Some think that this was Philemon's son, but he could have been the pastor of the church that met in Philemon's home (cf. Col. 4:17) or someone else unknown to us. E. J. Goodspeed and J. Knox postulate that Archippus was the owner of Onesimus, and that Philemon was the local pastor enlisted to help encourage Archippus to have mercy on his runaway slave.

▣ "fellow-soldier" Paul envisioned the Christian life as a military struggle (cf. Eph. 6:10-18). He uses this characterization several times (cf. Phil. 2:25; II Tim. 3:2).

▣ "the church" Ekklesia is from two Greek words, "out of" (ek) and "to call" (kalaō). It was used in Koine Greek (200 b.c.-a.d. 200) to describe any kind of assembly, such as a town assembly (cf. Acts 19:32). The Church chose this term because it was used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, written as early as 250 b.c. for the library at Alexandria, Egypt. This term translated the Hebrew term qahal which was used in the covenant phrase "the assembly of Israel" (cf. Num. 20:4). The NT writers asserted that they were the "divinely called out ones" who were to be the People of God in their day. They saw no radical break between the OT People of God and themselves, the NT People of God. Christians assert that the Church of Jesus Christ, not modern rabbinical Judaism, is the true interpreter and fulfillment of the OT Scriptures. See Special Topic: Church at Col. 1:18.

"that meets in their home" There were no church buildings until the third century (cf. Acts 2:40; 5:42; 20:20; Rom. 16:5; I Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15). These "house churches" followed the Jewish pattern of local synagogues (scripture readings, prayers, songs, etc.). The Greek text is ambiguous as to which of the two men mentioned in vv. 1-2 owned the home where the church met.

v. 3 "Father" This term is not used in the sense of sexual generation or chronological sequence, but of intimate family relationship. God chose family terms to reveal Himself to fallen humanity (cf. Hosea 2-3 as passionate, faithful lover, Hosea 11 as loving father and mother). See Special Topic: Father at Col. 1:2.

 4I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; 6 and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake. 7 For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.

v. 4 "I thank my God" It was traditional in the Greco-Roman world to begin a letter with a standard form: (1) from whom; (2) to whom; and (3) a blessing or thanksgiving. Paul followed this pattern (thanksgiving for readers, cf. Rom. 1:8; I Cor. 1:4; Phil. 1:3; Col. 1:3; I Thess. 1:2; II Thess. 1:3; blessing of God, cf. II Cor. 1:3; Eph. 1:3; thanksgiving to God, cf. I Tim. 1:12; II Tim. 1:3). See Special Topic: Paul's Praise, Prayer, and Thanksgiving to God at Eph. 3:20.

▣ "making mention of you in my prayers See Special Topic: Intercessory Prayer at Col. 4:3.

v. 5 "I hear of your love" Paul did not start the church at Colossae. Apparently Epaphras had brought him information about the developing heresy at Colossae (cf. Col. 1:4) and of Philemon's ministry to the saints (cf. v. 7).

▣ "the faith" (cf. Col. 1:4). The Greek term (pistis) is translated into English in three ways: "faith," "believe," and "trust." The Greek term had three distinct connotations.

1. its OT background meant "faithfulness" or "trustworthiness," therefore, it was used of believers trusting in the trustworthiness of God

2. it was used in the NT of accepting or receiving God's free offer of forgiveness in Christ

3. it was used in the collective sense of the Christian doctrine or truth about Jesus (cf. Acts 6:7 and Jude 3 & 20)

In several passages it is difficult to determine which is meant (cf. II Thess. 3:3). See Special Topics: NT Faith at Col. 1:2 and OT Faith at Eph. 2:8.

▣ "toward all the saints" This is literally "holy ones," those set apart exclusively for God's service. This is not a reference to a sinless lifestyle, but to believers' forensic (legal) position in Christ. It is always plural except in Phil. 4:21, but even there it is used in a corporate context. To be saved is to be part of a family. This term reflects an OT usage for corporate Israel as a holy people (cf. Exod. 13:5; 19:5-6; Deut. 7:6; I Pet. 2:9; and Rev. 1:6).

Although the term "saints" relates to the believers' standing in Christ, it is not incidental that the root word is "holy." Believers are called not only to salvation but to a progressive sanctification (cf. Gal. 2:15-18,19-20). Believers are predestined to "holiness" (cf. Matt. 5:48; Rom. 8:28-29; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4), not just heaven; to service, not privilege. See Special Topic: Saints at Col. 1:2.

v. 6

NASB"that the fellowship of your faith"
NKJV, NRSV"that the sharing of your faith"
TEV"that our fellowship with you as believers"
NJB"that your fellowship in faith"

This verse has been interpreted in several senses.

1. the fellowship of believers with each other (cf. II Cor. 8:4; Phil. 2:1-5)

2. the sharing of the gospel with unbelievers (cf. Phil. 1:5)

3. the sharing of good things with others



NASB"through the knowledge of every good thing"
NKJV"by the acknowledgment of every good thing"
NRSV"when you perceive all the good that we may do"
TEV"will bring about a deeper understanding of every blessing"
NJB"may come to expression in full knowledge of all the good"

There are some questions involved in interpreting this phrase:

1. to whom does this knowledge refer-Philemon, the church in his house, Onesimus, or Paul

2. to what does this knowledge (epignōskō, cf. Phil. 1:10; Col. 1:9; 3:10) refer-forgiveness, slavery, apostolic authority, or the gospel?

In Paul's writings wisdom and knowledge are not separated from ethical living, but form a unified whole (cf. Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9-10).

NASB"which is in you for Christ's sake"
NKJV"which is in you in Christ Jesus"
NRSV"that we may do for Christ"
TEV"which we have in our life in union with Christ"
NJB"we can do for Christ"

There are two clear options of interpretation in these translations: (1) things we do as believers for Christ or (2) things we have as believers in Christ.

v. 7 "love" Paul uses this term (agapē) three times in this small book. He had heard of their love and faith for Jesus and His followers (v. 5); he had much joy and comfort in their love (v. 7); and he appealed to this God-inspired love to motivate Philemon (v. 9).

▣ "hearts" This is literally the term for "bowels" (splagchna, cf. Acts 1:18). This is possibly related to the OT sacrifice of these specific body parts on the altar (cf. Exod. 29:13; Lev. 3:3-4,10, 15; 4:8-9; 7:3-4; 8:16, 25; 9:10,16). The ancients located the emotions in the lower viscera or abdomen (cf. Isa. 63:15; Jer. 4:19). For Paul it relates to Christian love (cf. 2:1; II Cor. 6:12; 7:15; Phil. 1:8, 21; Col. 3:12; Philemon 7,12,20).


 8Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, 9 yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus 10 I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, 11 who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. 12 I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. 15 For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

v. 8

NASB"to order you to do what is proper"
NKJV"to command you what is fitting"
NRSV"to command you to do your duty"
TEV"to order you to do what should be done"
NJB"telling you what your duty is"

This reflects Paul's apostolic authority. However, Paul preferred to use encouragement and tactfulness (vv. 9,10,17,20).

v. 9

NASB, NKJV"Paul the aged"
NRSV"I, Paul, do this as an old man"
TEV"the ambassador"
NJB"I am, Paul, an old man"

This is not a Greek manuscript problem, for all Greek manuscripts have "the aged" (presbutēs). Scholars have pointed out that in Koine Greek the term "the aged" and "ambassador" (presbeutēs) may have been spelled the same or at least often confused (cf. MSS of LXX; II Chr. 32:31). The English translations TEV, RSV, and NEB have "ambassador," while NJB and NIV have "an old man."

Paul lists several reasons why Philemon should honor his request.

1. Paul's apostleship (v. 8)

2. Paul's age (v. 9)

3. Paul's imprisonment (v. 9)

4. Paul's ministry in Onesimus' life (v. 10)

5. Onesimus' possible ministry to Paul (v. 11,13)

6. Paul's love for him (v. 12)

7. Onesimus has been changed from a slave to a brother in Christ (v. 15-16)

8. Philemon's attitude toward Paul (v. 17)

9. Philemon's salvation at Paul's witness (v. 19)

10.  Philemon's ministry to Paul (v. 20)


▣ "a prisoner of Christ Jesus" See note at 1:1.

v. 10 "my child" Rabbis use this phrase to describe their students, but in this context it refers to Onesimus' salvation through Paul's witness (cf. I Cor. 4:14-15; II Cor. 6:13; 12:14; Gal. 4:19, I Thess. 2:11; I Tim. 1:2; II Tim. 1:2; 2:1; and Titus 1:4).

"in my imprisonment" This is literally "in my bonds." It is uncertain how Onesimus met Paul in prison:

1. Onesimus was imprisoned with Paul

2. Onesimus had been sent on an errand to Paul in prison

3. he came to Paul because he knew that Philemon was a friend of his


vv. 10-11 "Onesimus" The name meant "useful" or "profitable" (cf. v. 20). Paul uses this wordplay to appeal to Philemon. This converted slave was formerly useless (achrēstos), but is now "useful" (euchrētos cf. II Tim. 4:11) to both Paul and Philemon.

F. F. Bruce's translation of this section in Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, is very helpful in seeing the word play:

"His name is Onesimus - profitable by name and profitable by nature. I know that in former days you found him quite unprofitable, but now, I assure you, he has learned to be true to his name - profitable to you, and profitable to me" ( p. 393).

v. 12 "I have sent him back to you" This phrase had a legal connotation of "referring his case to you." This also shows that believers must face the consequences of their actions even if they were committed before salvation. It also affirmed the legal rights of slave owners (cf. vv. 14,18).

"that is, sending my very heart" This is such a strong statement! Paul felt deeply for his converts. This surely reveals the pastoral heart of Paul, as does his tender yet firm treatment of Philemon.

v. 13 Paul was apparently a financially independent person. He often refused help from those he preached to because false teachers accused him of financial exploitation. Yet as the years went by he was able to receive help from some of the churches he ministered to. This help was in two specific ways.

1. the church of Philippi (cf. Phil. 1:5,7; 4:15) and possibly the church of Thessalonica (cf. II Cor. 11:9) sent him money to help with his expenses in prison

2. the church at Philippi sent a representative, Epaphroditus, to help Paul, (cf. Phil. 2:25)

In a similar sense Paul saw Onesimus as a gift from Philemon and the church at Colossae.

v. 14 God looks at the heart, the motives, first (cf. I Sam. 16:7; I Kgs. 8:39; I Chr. 28:9; Jer. 17:10; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24). Paul wanted Philemon to be blessed for his generosity and love for Christ (cf. II Cor. 8-9), not just for his obedience to Paul's command (cf. v. 8).

v. 15 "For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while" This is a passive voice verb. This phrase can be understood in two ways: (1) in the sense of God's predestined plan (NASB marginal has the Scriptural parallel of Gen 45:5,8) or (2) that God used the inappropriate behavior of Onesimus as an opportunity for his salvation and for Philemon's service to Christ and friendship with Paul (cf. v. 16).

v. 16 "no longer as a slave. . .a beloved brother" Christianity did not attack slavery openly (cf. Eph. 6:5-9), but destroyed it through its view of the dignity and worth of human beings (cf. Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). See Special Topic: Paul's Admonitions to Slaves at Eph. 6:5.

NRSV"both in the flesh and in the Lord"
TEV"both as a slave and as a brother in the Lord"
NJB"both on the natural plane and in the Lord"

This phrase states that the benefit of Onesimus' return was on two planes, one natural (physical) and one supernatural (spiritual). Philemon would benefit as a man and a Christian.

 17If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well). 20 Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.

vv. 17-18 "if" There are two first class conditional sentences which are assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes. Philemon was Paul's friend and Onesimus did wrong him (cf. v. 18).

▣ "a partner" This is the term koinōnus, which is a form of the term koinōnia "to share in common with," "to be associated with" or "to be party to." Paul uses it to refer to a financial contribution (cf. Phil. 4:15). Therefore it may be a wordplay relating to Paul's friendship (v. 19) and Onesimus' bill (v. 17).

"accept him as you would me" Paul's statement may have derived from Jesus' words in Matt. 25:44-45 or Paul's experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus (cf. Acts 9:4). By persecuting Christians, Paul was persecuting Christ. By accepting Onesimus, Philemon was accepting Paul. True love is wonderfully corporate and reciprocal. We show our love for God by how we love one another (cf. I John 2:9,11; 4:20).

v. 18 The implication of the grammar of verse 18 is that Onesimus did steal from Philemon (first class conditional sentence), that Onesimus did owe Philemon (present active indicative), and that Paul pled with Philemon to put the charge to Paul's account (present active imperative).

v. 19 "I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand" Apparently Paul used scribes to write for him (cf. Tertius in Rom. 16:22), probably because of his eye problems (cf. Gal. 4:15; 6:11), possibly caused at his conversion experience (cf. Acts 9:8,18; 22:11; 26:13). However there may have been some forged letters claiming to be written by Paul which circulated among the churches (cf. II Thess. 3:17). Therefore, Paul took the pen and wrote the last few verses himself (cf. I Cor. 16:21; Gal. 6:11; Col. 4:18; II Thess. 3:17; Philemon 19).

"you owe to me even your own self as well" This strongly implies that Paul led Philemon to faith in Christ. When and where is uncertain, for Paul did not start the church at Colossae. The best guess is that Philemon, like Epaphras, was saved during Paul's two-year revival at Ephesus (cf. Acts 19:10,20).

v. 20 This verse is similar to Rom. 1:12. How we live as Christians encourages and refreshes other believers.

 21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.

v. 21 This was Paul's tactful way of assuring Philemon's compliance.

 22 At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.

v. 22 "prepare me a lodging" Paul was expecting to be released (cf. Phil. 1:25; 2:24). The Pastoral Letters (I and II Timothy and Titus) record this fourth missionary journey, while Acts ends with Paul still in prison after his third missionary journey.

It is surprising that Philemon is thought to be grouped with Colossians and Ephesians, occurring early in Paul's imprisonment. In these books, Paul is uncertain of the outcome of his trial. In Philippians, which was written towards the end of Paul's imprisonment, he expected to be released. Therefore, this comment in v. 22 may have been (1) a way to remind Philemon that he would have to face Paul personally-and possibly soon-about his request to forgive and accept Onesimus or (2) an idiom for hospitality.

▣ "through your prayers" Paul believed in the power of prayer (cf. Eph. 6:18-19). He also practiced what he preached (note the different Greek terms used: deomai, II Cor. 5:20; 8:4; I Thess. 3:10; proseuchomai, Acts 16:25; 20:36; 21:5; 22:17; 28:8; Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:3,9; 4:3; I Thess. 5:17,25; II Thess. 1:11; 3:1; I Tim. 2:8; proseuchē, Acts 16:13,16; Rom. 1:9; 12:12; 15:30; I Cor. 7:5; Eph. 1:16; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2,12; I Thess. 1:2; I Tim. 2:1; 5:5; Philemon 4,22).

 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.

vv. 23-25 This is very similar to the close of Colossians. These books (Philemon and Colossians) issue from the same historical setting.

v. 23 "Epaphras" He was the founder of three of the churches (Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea) in the Lycus River Valley (cf. 4:12-13; Philemon 23). He was probably converted during Paul's revival at Ephesus (cf. Acts 19:10). His name was a shortened form of Epaphroditus, which was etymologically related to the goddess Aphrodite. Another man by this same name was mentioned in Phil. 2:25; 4:18. However, he was from a different geographical area.

v. 24 "Mark" He was also known as John Mark. His home may have been the site of the Lord's Supper and Upper Room appearances (cf. Acts 12:12). He was Barnabas' cousin. He was the writer of the Gospel of Mark and a scribe for Peter (cf. I Pet. 5:13). He was the cause of a great fight between Barnabas and Paul (cf. Acts 12:25; 13:5; 15:36-39). Later, however, Paul forgave and affirmed him (cf. II Tim. 4:11).

"Demas" Demas was one of Paul's confidants and co-workers. He was mentioned along with Epaphras, Luke, Aristarchus, and Mark in Col. 4:10-12. II Timothy 4:9 lists two of these same co-workers, Luke and Mark. Scripture states that "Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me." Paul had many helpers. Some, such as Luke, were always faithful. Others, such as John Mark, were once unfaithful but returned to ministry. Demas apparently left Paul's service for some unnamed temptation or opportunity. There is no implication that he left Christ.

▣ "Luke" He was Paul's faithful traveling friend, co-worker, and physician (cf. Col. 4:14; II Tim. 4:11). He was with Paul during many of his preaching stops in Acts. This is confirmed by the "we" statements in Acts (cf. Acts 16:11,16; 20:6,7,13; 21:1,5, 7,10,12,15,17,25; 27:1,18,26,27). Luke may have been the "man of Macedonia" in Acts 16:9.

 25The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

v. 25 This is an example of a typical Pauline closing blessing. Note that the phrase "be with your spirit" is a good example of the small "s" (spirit) which is used of man's spirit, (or self, cf. Acts 7:59; II Tim. 4:22) not the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal. 6:18; Phil. 4:23). However, in many instances in the NT, it refers to man's spirit which is energized by the Holy Spirit. This is probably the implication here.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Where did the early church meet?

2. To whom was this letter addressed?

3. How does this letter reveal the pastoral techniques of Paul?

4. How does this book relate to the issue of slavery?

5. Why is verse 22 surprising?

6. Why is the term “spirit” in small letters?


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