Philemon 6-10
Philemon 6 (KJB)
That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
Communication - Fellowship
Effectual - Something that is working, effective or active
Acknowledging - Recognition, consciousness, or knowledge
In - Toward
Paul was hearing and understanding the ministry of Philemon. Here Paul details what he knows about his ministry. He is stating that the communication of his faith in Christ may become something that is active and not passive. The propagating of the Gospel requires action upon the part of all Christians. Paul is stating here a tremendous spiritual principle that our ministries become effectual because we have the knowledge of all things, namely, the spiritual gifts and fruits of the Spirit which were planted in us on the day of salvation by the Holy Spirit. When we begin to understand the spiritual arsenal which God has placed in every believer, our ministries will never seem like they are ineffectual toward others, whether they be saved or unsaved. As the believer continues to witness and minister, they continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, and as they do that, the effectiveness of their ministry continues to grow. If we continue to do ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ and not for ourselves, then we will be effective but if we minister only for the purpose of puffing ourselves up, there will be no continued growth or effectiveness but only a slide into apostasy.
Philemon 7 (KJB)
For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.
Refreshed - Rest, take one’s rest, give rest
Not only did the communication of love help Philemon gain a more complete understanding of what he possessed in Christ, it brought great joy and comfort to the Apostle Paul and those who were with him. This gives a great insight that those who are truly active in the Lord’s service will not only be loved by others but they will continue to grow mightily in the Lord themselves. When Paul speaks of the bowels of the saints are being refreshed by Philemon, Paul is basically stating that the saints were refreshed by Philemon not just in a physical manner like food, water, and rest but that they were ministered to in the depths of their spirit. Philemon’s Christian ways had been a rest or an oasis in troubling times when persecution ran high. Paul was very joyful to hear that Philemon was a refresher of the brethren. To hear of one you led to Christ being spoken about as one who refreshes the brethren and is loved by the brethren, gives you joy down deep in your spirit.
Philemon 8 (KJB)
Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient,
Bold - Frankness, outspokenness, or freely
To Enjoin - Command or order
Which is convenient - Fitting or proper
The heart of this small epistle is one of love and Christian compassion to accept Onesimus back into the home of Philemon. Paul did not want to use any bold authority and appealed to the love which was shared by him with the church in Philemon’s house. This is why in this verse, Paul considers himself to be very bold if he was to use his apostolic office to command or order Philemon to take Onesimus back. If Paul did that, it would have also been the right of the master to punish the slave but Paul wanted to avoid that and to show that Christian charity and compassion has the ability to override the ways of the world. He wanted to act in a way which would be proper and fitting for him, hoping that Philemon would also act in a proper way toward Onesimus.
Philemon 9 (KJB)
Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
Beseech - Encourage or exhort
Aged - Old or aged man
Paul was not one to use his apostolic authority, especially on one that he loved dearly in the faith such as Philemon. Instead Paul wants to encourage him, knowing that Paul is an aged man by now and with what his body undertook in the area of beatings and other hardships, Paul probably looked twenty years older than he really was. Paul once again reminds Philemon that he is in prison in Rome but Paul focuses on the fact that he is a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Paul was in prison not by the will of Nero but by the will of God, as this is what God had planned for Paul. Paul was imprisoned because he was in the will of God. He was imprisoned because he was a great witness for Christ, preaching His name wherever he went, even to the palace of Caesar. Paul did not hesitate to preach the true word of God no matter where he was.
Philemon 10 (KJB)
I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:
Beseech - Exhort or encourage
Begotten - Give birth to or produce
Paul now comes to the heart of the message as to why he was writing this letter to Philemon. Onesimus was a slave who had run away but he somehow met up with Paul in the Roman jail. Obviously, Onesimus must have known Paul from the meetings they had in the house of Philemon. Even if Onesimus was not allowed to attend the meetings, he no doubt would have heard the messages. Onesimus may have had a change of heart while he was in Rome and maybe wanted to go back to Philemon but feared the consequences of his actions. He probably knew that Paul was a prisoner in Rome and Onesimus probably tried to go to Rome, and get lost in its vastness. It was said that Rome was so big that a person could get lost there, whether intentionally or not. Slaves in ancient times normally were not illiterate and were well educated, as many of them taught the children in their master’s home. Having good education, they would not be acting like a runaway slave and could handle themselves with some dignity. So if Onesimus wanted to escape permanently, he could have done so. However, this was not God’s will for him. He obviously was being drawn by the Holy Spirit because if you think for a moment, why would a runaway slave want to enter a Roman prison voluntarily. You would think that would be the last place he would want to enter. Yet, God was guiding his way to Paul and it was through the ministry of Paul that Onesimus became saved. Onesimus probably had told Paul that he ran away and this is what sparked the letter to Philemon under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
A spiritual lesson for us here. Philemon represents God the Father and Onesimus represents all the human race which has run away from God because of sin. Remember how Adam and Eve hid themselves from God after they sinned in the garden. Then Paul, who represents Christ, is acting as an intermediate between Philemon and Onesimus. Onesimus becomes saved under the ministry of the Apostle Paul and as a result, Onesimus is brought back to Philemon as a saved man. When we become saved, we are also reconciled or brought back to God as His children by means of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. No longer are we slaves but children. (John 15:15 KJV) Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.  The word for “servants” and “servant” is the Greek word “doulos” which can also be understood as “slave.”