Philemon 1:10

I beseech you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:
Read Chapter 1


AD 400
During his imprisonment in Rome, the apostle had baptized Onesimus, a runaway who had fled to God for help, because he saw Onesimus's potential.

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
I beseech thee He at length tells Philemon what his request is, and names the person Onesimus, but in such terms as show how much St. Paul has this affair at heart, and that he will look upon the favour he asks as done to himself. It is, that you will pardon Onesimus, whom I look upon and love as my son, and a most dear son, whom I have begotten, a prisoner, and in my chains. (Witham) How great is the ingenuity shown by St. Paul in this epistle, in obtaining for Onesimus the pardon of his master, Philemon. Having in the preceding verse endeavoured by every argument which a real tenderness and compassion could inspire, and making use of every expression that could conciliate the favour of Philemon, to obtain his charitable request, he in this verse for the first time dares mention Onesimus by name; a name which he was sensible must sound harsh in the ears of one who had received an injury from him. See how he endeavours to prevent so unhappy an effect, by adding to the name every epith...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
For I would not have called him my son, Paul says, if he were not of great use and importance to me. What I called Timothy, that I also call Onesimus. Paul repeatedly shows his affection for Onesimus, reminding Philemon of Onesimus’s recent birth in Christ. “I have begotten him in my bonds,” he says, so that also on this account Onesimus was worthy to obtain much honor, because he was begotten in Paul’s very conflicts, in his trials in the cause of Christ.

John Chrysostom

AD 407
And note, on the other hand, also Paul’s fervency. He preached the gospel bound and scourged. Oh, that blessed chain, with what great effort did it labor that night, and what children did it birth! Yes, of them, too, may he say, “Whom I have begotten in my bonds.” Observe how Paul glories. He will have the children born this way considered even more illustrious! Observe how transcendent is the glory of those bonds, in that they give luster not only to him that wore them but also to those who were on that occasion begotten by him.

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Again the chains are mentioned to shame him into compliance, and then the name. For he has not only extinguished his anger, but has caused him to be delighted. For I would not have called him my son, he says, if he were not especially profitable. What I called Timothy, that I call him also. And repeatedly showing his affection, he urges him by the very period of his new birth, I have begotten him in my bonds, he says, so that on this account also he was worthy to obtain much honor, because he was begotten in his very conflicts, in his trials in the cause of Christ.

John of Damascus

AD 749
Indeed the epistle was written in behalf of the slave, and having returned him, though he had done wrong, he was improving through the Apostle's teaching. Now many have benefitted from it, indeed, first and foremost those who are zealous. For if Paul makes such great haste for the fugitive and repentant thief, how much more shall we not be lazy for the brethren. Secondly, one must not give up on the servile class, even if it strains the uttermost limits of wickedness. Oh how the thief and fugitive became so virtuous! Thirdly, its not appropriate for slaves to run away from their masters. For if Paul now insures Philemon that Onesimus was now thankful to serve him and not wishing to defy his superior, how much more should we ought not to do it. For if the wonderful servant is still fit to remain in his job, and their masters realize it, then he may be useful in everything else in the household.

The Apostolic Constitutions

AD 375
Of Borea in Macedonia, Ones Imus, once the servant of Philemon.

Thomas Aquinas

AD 1274
Therefore he says, I plead with you for my own son, whom I have begotten in prison, for Onesimus, who is his present concern. And acquiring a son in default of time, he loves him more, as an old man loves sons born to him in his old age. Genesis 37:3: ‘Now Israel loved Joseph above all his sons, because he had him in his old age.’ This one [Onesimus] was given birth in chains. Second, there is the change in status. For if he had persevered in sin, he would not be worthy of leniency. Note that Paul says little and means much. For as Cicero taught, one ought to make little of one’s own deed as much as possible. Thus the Apostle speaks lightly of his offence, saying, He once was useless to you, that is, harmful in taking away your possession, but now, converted from evil to the state of virtue, he is useful for the service of God and man. 2 Timothy 2:21: ‘If anyone, therefore, has cleansed himself from these, he will be a vessel for honourable use...’ Proverbs 25:4: ‘Take away the rust fr...

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

App Store LogoPlay Store Logo