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Jogging Through the Book of Philemon November 5, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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I’ve recently started reading through the Epistle to Philemon with the aid of a commentary by J.B. Lightfoot. I should note that I’ve previously read through this epistle. I hope to comprehend this epistle as a whole and ascertain its importance in the Biblical canon.

I plan to blog about this experience as I read through both the epistle and Lightfoot’s commentary. Each post will correspond to a specific section in the NIV translation.

On a related note, “jogging” appears in the title of this post as this epistle is relatively short; thus, this journey will be more of a jog than a leisurely stroll.

For starters, here are my thoughts on Philemon 1-3.

Summary: In this passage, Paul – who is in prison, and Timothy – who Philemon knows, greet him; he labored with Paul in Ephesus. They also greet:

  • Apphia
  • Archippus, who also worked with Paul in Ephesus
  • their house church.

Paul concludes by wishing them God’s unmerited favor and His peace.

Thoughts: Verse 2 contains a mention of Archippus as Paul and Timothy’s “fellow soldier.” Lightfoot offers some insights on this point in his commentary:

With less confidence, but still with a reasonable degree of probability, we may infer that Archippus, who is also mentioned in the opening greeting, was a son of Philemon and Apphia. Archippus held some important office in the church (Colossians 4:17). St. Paul talks of it as a “work,” “ministry” (diakonia)…Archippus may have been a presbyter. Or perhaps he held a missionary charge and belonged to the order of “evangelists” (see Ephesians 4:11).

The injunction that Paul gives to Archippus in Colossians 4:17 is quite relevant (I should note that I have just finished strolling through Colossians). I certainly hope to meet Archippus in the next life and hear how he completed the work he received in the Lord. Lightfoot also notes in his commentary that Archippus probably served with Paul while they were in Ephesus, and so I would be glad to learn how Archippus became a Christian. What was it like to serve with Paul in Ephesus? Why did Paul have to give him the injunction in Colossians 4:17? Was he in danger of becoming lukewarm in his faith – especially as this issue would later plague the church in Laodicea, as seen in Revelation 3:14-22? How did he respond to Paul’s injunction?

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