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Philemon 1:4-5

Thanks for Philemon’s Love and Faith

1:4 I always thank my God 1  as I remember you in my prayers, 2  1:5 because I hear 3  of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love 4  for all the saints. 5 

1 sn I always thank my God. An offer of thanksgiving (εὐχαριστῶ, eucaristw) to God is a customary formula for Paul in many of his epistles (cf. Rom 1:8, 1 Cor 1:4, Eph 1:16, Col 1:3, 1 Thess 1:2, 2 Thess 1:3). The content of the thanksgiving typically points to the work of God in the salvation of the believers to whom he [Paul] writes.

2 tn Grk “making remembrance (or “mention”) of you in my prayers.”

3 tn The Greek present participle ἀκούων (akouwn, “hearing”) is an adverbial participle of cause relating to εὐχαριστῶ (eucaristw, “I give thanks”).

4 sn Your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. In accord with Paul, John also advocates this combination of “faith in Christ and love for the saints.” The believers’ invisible faith becomes visible in the demonstration of love for others. This, of course, is not only desired, but commanded (1 John 3:23). Although Paul’s comment here may appear as a stock expression to the casual reader, praising Philemon for his track record of faithfulness to Christ demonstrated in love for the saints is actually integral to the author’s argument in this short but pithy letter. Paul will soon ask Philemon to demonstrate this love toward Onesimus, his runaway slave.

5 tn The Greek is somewhat awkward here. It appears as though the text reads “…the love and faith which you have for the Lord Jesus and for all the saints.” In other Pauline letters the emphasis seems to be “faith in Christ Jesus and love for all of the saints.” Some ancient mss have altered the wording to produce a smoother reading; scribes changed the wording to resemble the more readable versions in Eph 1:15 and Col 1:4, “your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have to all the saints.”

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