Philemon 1:7
(7) The bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee.--The same idea is here carried on. St. Paul declares his special joy to have been that "the bowels (i.e., the hearts) of the saints, have been refreshed through thee." The word "refresh" is the very word used by our Lord in His gracious promise: "Come unto me all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you" (Matthew 11:28). It is ultimately in Him that the hearts of the saints are refreshed. But in this case it was through the instrumentality of Philemon, by "the communion of faith," to which his active love was the means of welcoming them, and in which they had fellowship in Christ, both with the Father and with His children. (Comp. 1John 1:3.) St. Paul uses the word "refresh" not unfrequently to express the relief and rest given by Christian fellowship on earth. (See below, Philemon 1:20; and comp. 1Corinthians 16:18; 2Corinthians 7:13.) We find it in the Apocalypse applied to the rest with Christ in heaven (Revelation 6:11; Revelation 14:13).

Brother.--The name is given to Philemon here and in Philemon 1:20 with a marked emphasis of affection, evidently implying some special intimacy of friendship, not apparently at Colossae (for see Colossians 2:1); but perhaps at Ephesus, during St. Paul's long stay there. Probably Philemon (whose son Archippus is supposed to have been) was St. Paul's equal in age, and although actually his convert is not addressed (as usual) as his "son in the faith." In this place, moreover, the title "brother" has a peculiar appropriateness: for the Apostle has been speaking of the love of Philemon, which made him a brother indeed to all in the family of Christ.

Verse 7. - We have great joy and consolation. The preferable reading is, as in A, C, F, G, N, and Revised Version, I had much joy and comfort (see Ver. 5). "Plenius inculcat et edocet, quare dixerit, gratias ago," etc. (Jerome). The bowels of the saints; hearts (Revised Version). Either

(1) their bodily wants, the cravings of their hunger; or

(2) their hearts and affections, supplied and satisfied by the good deeds of Philemon.

This is another peculiarly Pauline expression (see 2 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 7:15-these two are very similarly used in Vers. 7, 12, 20 - and three other places). "To refresh the bowels is (in Paul) to be taken as meaning a lightening of troubles, so that they may rest with minds free from all sorrow and annoyance" (Calvin). Brother. How persuasively the sentence is turned! An old commentator remarks, "Paul does not yet come to his request, but prepares and softens beforehand the mind of Philemon" (Scipio Gentilis). This course of proceeding is exactly what Quintilian prescribes to an advocate, "His velut fomentis, si quid erit asperum, praemolliemus, quo facilius aures judicum admittant" ('De Institut. Orat.,' 4:3).

1:1-7 Faith in Christ, and love to him, should unite saints more closely than any outward relation can unite the people of the world. Paul in his private prayers was particular in remembering his friends. We must remember Christian friends much and often, as their cases may need, bearing them in our thoughts, and upon our hearts, before our God. Different sentiments and ways in what is not essential, must not make difference of affection, as to the truth. He inquired concerning his friends, as to the truth, growth, and fruitfulness of their graces, their faith in Christ, and love to him, and to all the saints. The good which Philemon did, was matter of joy and comfort to him and others, who therefore desired that he would continue and abound in good fruits, more and more, to God's honour.For we have great joy and consolation in thy love,.... In the expressions and acts of it to the poor saints; for which reason the apostle gives thanks for it before; and it is a pleasure and comfort to an ingenuous mind, though it is not in his power to do good to the poor saints himself, to see that others have both abilities, and a heart to relieve them:

because the bowels of the saints are, refreshed by thee, brother; meaning, not only that their bellies were filled with food, for the phrase is used in Plm 1:20 where that cannot be intended; but their hearts were filled with gladness, the load upon their spirits, the pressures upon their minds were removed, and they had an inward pleasure in their souls, and rest, refreshment, and comfort, through the liberal communications of Philemon to them; who did what he did cheerfully, that so it did their souls good, as well as their bodies; and in doing which, he acted the part of a brother in Christ.

Philemon 1:6
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