Philemon 1:22

Friday, 27 July 2018

But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you. Philemon 1:22

Paul has completed his words of petition concerning Onesimus, and so he now changes the direction of his letter using the Greek word homa, translated here as “But, meanwhile.” It is word giving the sense of, “at the same time.” He is assuming that his request concerning Onesimus will be acted on; and so he asks that, while that is occurring, Philemon will “also prepare a guest room for me.”

Translating this as “guest room” is too familiar for Paul’s intent. A “guest room” implies a room in one’s own house, whereas the Greek word simply means “hospitality,” or “a lodging.” The only other time it is used is in Acts 28:23 while speaking of Paul’s lodging while he was awaiting trial. Paul is asking that accommodations be made by Philemon (the verb is singular), probably hoping that they will be at Philemon’s house; but he tactfully refrains from asking for this, demonstrating his usual courtesy of not being a burden on another.

Paul is in prison at this time, and yet he asks for this to be done anyway, next giving the reason with the words, “for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.” Here the words are in the plural. It is not just Philemon, but all mentioned in verse 2 (including the church) that he knew were praying for him. He is certain that because of their prayers he will be released and able to return to see them. The word translated as “I shall be granted” indicates “a favor.” In other words, God would have Paul released as a favor through their prayers.

This statement is, of course, another reason why Philemon would need to be especially considerate of how he handled the situation with Onesimus. Paul would be back, and the response to his letter’s request would be evident the moment he arrived. How would Philemon have acted upon his heartfelt words? He certainly had other places to visit, and other churches to minister to, but he would be coming to this one when he was released. Though the subject of Onesimus has ended in the letter, it is still on prominent display in how the letter would be responded to.

Life application: How do you act towards others in Christ when you have a need? Paul was careful to not ask for a room in Philemon’s house. He simply asked for help finding lodging. The amount we impose on others is often an indicator of our respect for their personal time and capabilities. The less we ask, while still asking some small thing, shows that we respect them enough to ask for help, but care about them enough to not be overburdensome on them.

Lord God, give us wisdom in how we deal with others. Help us to evaluate their situations, and not demand too much of them time-wise, or favor-wise. Some people have lots of time, and we can chat with them on the phone for an hour. Some lead very busy lives and we should keep our talks short. The same is true with all aspects of relying on others. Help us to be aware of their constraints before we impose too heavily upon them. But in all our relationships, let us be thankful that they exist. Close friends are a true blessing from you! Amen.

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