Philemon 1:6

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

…that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. Philemon 1:6

Paul’s words here are tied into what he said in verse 4. He said he was “making mention of you always in my prayers.” This was so “that the sharing of your faith may become effective.” The word he uses, which is translated as “sharing,” is koinónia. It signifies participation, communion, and fellowship. It is “what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship” (HELPS Word Studies). As his words are tied into verse 4, and as the next verse will be tied in with verse 5, there is a parallelistic structure to these verses. This will be seen when we arrive at verse 7.

For now, Paul is praying for an outward display of the fruits of Philemon’s faith, thus he will have demonstrated an effective (an active and energetic) faith. Understanding this, Paul is praying about what he hopes will be the character of Philemon concerning his actions as they are directed towards what Paul hopes he will do in regards to the issue that lies ahead in the epistle. One can see that the issue ahead is something important to Paul, and he is therefore praying that a positive response will be forthcoming from Philemon.

Paul then says that this demonstration of the fruits of his faith will be “by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” The words, “by the acknowledgment,” are an indication of the actual existence of his faith. He has faith; in sharing that faith, he is showing that his faith is genuine.

The words “every good thing which is in you,” speak of an outwardly revealing of his faith. It is an expression of the faith that he possesses, and which acknowledges that he possesses it, and is now demonstrating it.

And finally, “in Christ Jesus” signifies that the faith is not a misdirected faith, but one which is based on the foundation of the faith, Jesus Christ. He is the basis for the faith; and therefore, Paul is praying that Philemon will exhibit an outward display of his faith, thus acknowledging that his faith is genuine, developed, and willing to go to the lengths necessary to meet the request that lays ahead in Paul’s letter.

Obviously, if Paul is writing this, and Philemon were not to follow through with the request Paul then makes, it would be an indication that his faith had not met the standard which Paul speaks of here. Paul is delicately leading Philemon to the point where he can hardly say “No” to the request which Paul will make.

Life application: Paul is directing his words in a very careful manner in order to elicit the desired outcome from Philemon. He is not manipulating him, because everything he says is in accord with what one would expect from a Christian. But he is making it exceedingly hard for Philemon to turn down the request that is forthcoming. One should never challenge another’s faith in an inappropriate manner, but it is acceptable to ask for a demonstration of faith from those we fellowship with.

Lord God, help us to not just have saving faith, but to live out that faith in proper demonstrations of having it. When we are given a chance to exhibit our faith in meeting the real-life requests and needs of others, help us to do so. May our faith and deeds work together to demonstrate to the world that we are not only Christians in word, but also in deed. This we pray, that You will be glorified through the things we do. Amen.

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