The Berean Expositor
Volume 45 - Page 125 of 251
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pp. 52 - 56
The previous article ended with a comment on the confidence of the apostle Paul and
others in prayer. Paul's thanksgiving (an essential part of all prayer) was based upon the
reports he had received of Philemon's love and faith:
"Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all
saints" (5).
If the figure chiasm is here employed then the disposition of this verse is:
"the faith which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and love toward all the saints."
Faith may also rather refer to faithfulness, although a due recognition of the change of
prepositions in the verse does not make this necessary. "Toward the Lord" is pros ton
kurion whilst "toward all saints" is eis pantas tous hagious, and the change from pros to
eis is surely significant. The Companion Bible note on these prepositions is:
"pros . . . . . with a view to anything--as an end (with the accusative)."
"eis . . . . . denotes motion to or unto an object, with the purpose of reaching or
touching it" (Appendix 104).
Faith which is exercised "with a view to" the Lord Jesus finds its complement in a
love which "reaches out unto" all the saints. "Faith worketh by love" (Gal. 5: 6).
"That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of
every good thing which is in you (text `us') in Christ Jesus" (6).
Three words demand attention before the meaning of this verse may be considered:
"communication", "effectual" and "acknowledging".
"Communication", koinonia is the word normally translated `fellowship' or
`communion'. Paul uses a cognate word koinonos in verse 17, `partner'. It is quite
wrong to imagine that the word is limited in meaning to fellowship in spiritual things, as
Acts 2: 42-45 makes clear:
"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship (koinonia) . . .
And all that believed were together, and had all things common (koinos); And sold their
possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need."
Consider also Rom. 15: 26, 27:
"For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution
(koinonia) for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and
their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers (koinoneo) of their
spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things."
Philemon's fellowship was of this nature; his love reached out and he had refreshed
the bowels of the saints (7), which would involve him in carnal (fleshly) things. In days