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An Exposition Of the Epistles Of Saint Paul And Of The Catholic Epistles Volumes 1&2

Introduction

PHILEMON, a native of Colossæ, in Phrygia, was converted to the faith, either by St. Paul himself, or by his disciple, Epaphras. He was of noble birth, and possessed of much riches. So great was the progress made by him in virtue, that, in a short time, his dwelling resembled a church, owing to the piety of his household, and the religious exercises unceasingly performed therein. He was distinguished for acts of generosity and charity towards the persecuted and distressed members of the Christian faith (5, 6, 7).

The occasion of this brief Epistle was the following:—Onesimus, one of Philemon’s slaves, after having robbed him, fled to Rome, where he found out St. Paul, then in his first imprisonment, about the year 62. The Apostle treated him with the utmost tenderness, proportioned to the magnitude of his guilt and the inveteracy of his disorders. And after having instructed him in the faith, converted and baptized him, sent him back to his master, with this commendatory Epistle, wherein he beseeches Philemon to receive him again into favour. This Epistle, though very brief, is regarded by Critics and Commentators, as a masterpiece of eloquence and pleading. In it, the Apostle brings forward, in the most engaging manner, all the motives which should induce Philemon to comply with his request. And, though he merely sought for the pardon of Onesimus; still, it is evident, that he expects from Philemon to grant him his liberty (21); a request, however, which the Apostle forbears from making, lest it might appear to be asking too much. Moreover, it might seem opposed to his instructions to slaves (1 Cor. 7:21). The Epistle consists of an exordium, which, after the usual salutation, commences at verse 4—of the proposition, verse 8—and the conclusion, verse 17.

It was written at Rome, at the same time, as the Epistle to the Colossians—viz, about the year 62.








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