Philemon 1:16

Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, especially to me, but how much more unto you, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?
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AD 400
Paul humbled him by saying that Onesimus was his brother both in the flesh and in the Lord, for once the issue of human subjection is removed, we are all of the same Adam and ought to recognize ourselves as brothers, particularly when faith, which takes all pride away, unites us.

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Receive him not now as a servant, but also as a most dear brother, especially to me. Nay I may say, how much more dear even to thee, both in the flesh, having been a Gentile as thou thyself wast, and having been also a servant in thy family. And secondly, he ought now to be dear to thee in our Lord, he who was thy servant, being now united to thee by the same faith, and by an union of charity. See Estius. (Witham)


AD 420
No one is an eternal owner of his slave; for his power and the status of both persons are terminated by death. But Onesimus, who has been made eternal from his faith in Christ, after receiving the spirit of freedom, begins to be no longer a slave, but a brother in place of a slave, a most dear brother, and eternal brother of Philemon.

John Chrysostom

AD 407
You have lost a slave for a short time, but you will find a brother for ever, not only your brother, but mine also. Here also there is much virtue. But if he is my brother, you also will not be ashamed of him. By calling him his son, he has shown his natural affection; and by calling him his brother, his great good will for him, and his equality in honor. Moral. These things are not written without an object, but that we masters may not despair of our servants, nor press too hard on them, but may learn to pardon the offenses of such servants, that we may not be always severe, that we may not from their servitude be ashamed to make them partakers with us in all things when they are good. For if Paul was not ashamed to call one his son, his own bowels, his brother, his beloved, surely we ought not to be ashamed. And why do I say Paul? The Master of Paul is not ashamed to call our servants His own brethren; and are we ashamed? See how He honors us; He calls our servants His own brethre...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Shall I show you freedom arising from slavery? There was a certain Onesimus, a slave, a goodfornothing runaway. He escaped and went to Paul. He obtained baptism, washed away his sins and remained at Paul’s feet…. Do you see his nobility? Do you see a character that brings freedom? Slave and free are simply names. What is a slave? It is a mere name. How many masters lie drunken upon their beds, while slaves stand by sober? Whom shall I call a slave? The one who is sober, or the one who is drunk? The one who is the slave of a man, or the one who is the captive of passion? The former has his slavery on the outside; the latter wears his captivity on the inside.

Thomas Aquinas

AD 1274
And he says instead of a slave, that is, in place of a slave. Matthew 23.8: ‘For one is your master and all are your brothers.’ And not only yours, but mine in comparison to God, though he is a son to the ministry. How much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. This can be expounded in two ways. First, as referring to the first origin of the divine creation, and thus he is a brother. Deuteronomy 32:6: ‘Is not he your father, that hath possessed you, and made you, and created you?’ Malachi 2:10: ‘Have we not all one father? Did not one God created us?’ Again, by trust in God. Or it might rather be for the good of Philemon, because he is close to him in the flesh, since that is how he is his slave, because whatever he is bodily belongs to Philemon. Hence one is moved by charity for two reasons, by love which has its origin in the flesh, or by spiritual love. On the part of the Apostle, he first declares his friendship, under which aegis he wants Philemon to take Onesimus back;...

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

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