This post is Day 17 in a series of studies about “Philemon”. I strongly suggest you begin with the introduction to this study, please click here to read it.

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Philemon – Day 17

Philemon 20-21

I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.

The Thought

These sentences sound very strange to me, and I wonder if it is a bad translation from the Greek. But I have looked at several versions and they all seem to say something similar. The one I like best is from The Living Bible. It says Yes, dear brother, give me joy with this loving act, and my weary heart will praise the Lord.

Reading Bible passages in different translations often helps to give more light on difficult verses. But of course the best would be to learn Biblical Greek and Hebrew!

It seems from these verses that Paul has persuaded himself that Philemon will comply with his request and accept Onesimus back into his service. It is the former slave that will be delivering this letter to his former employer (Philemon 12). That must have been a stressful thing for him to do, truly expecting that Philemon would do as Paul requested. But what if he didn’t?

What if he refused? What if Onesimus found himself rejected? Without a job, and without any prospects? Condemned forever as a runaway slave? But those thoughts would not be from the Lord, and I am sure that Onesimus would have to take seriously Paul’s teachings on his thought life several times on his journey back “home”!


Read 2 Corinthians 10 today and remind yourself of what Paul says about the weapons of our warfare in verses 4-5. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

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