A Hermeneutical Analysis of Philemon

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A Hermeneutical Analysis of Philemon
By Jonathan A. Watson

I have read various books on Theological Hermeneutics, and one, whose title has slipped my mind, had once suggested the Hermeneutics isn’t only about picking up the Bible, analyzing it, and putting it back down, but also making an application through it. So, in this paper I have followed such a suggestion. First I will mention the background of the book being hermeneutically analyzed. This answers many of the questions needed to contextualize the book into its original socio-cultural setting for better understanding. Secondly, I will do an exegesis, or commentary, on the verses of the book to explain the interpretation that I had gotten out of it. This is done in
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4 Here Paul talks of remembering Philemon in his prayers in a thankful manner.
5 The reason for Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving is because of Philemon’s love (Christian love) for the people of God as well as Philemon’s Christian faith.
6 Paul prays for Philemon to grow maturely in understanding through faith.
7 Paul expresses the joy Philemon has given him due to his love for others and how he has “refreshed the hearts” of the Lord’s people, most likely meaning keeping their heads up in faith.
8 Paul begins his main message here. He makes it known that he has authority in Jesus to give a commanding order to tell Philemon to do what is right without question. The authority comes out from the fact that Jesus had expressed the need for forgiveness of debts, especially through his Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. Given that Paul was elected by Jesus out from his stand with the Pharisees, and as a Christian he had a right to make rebukes, he had firmly rooted authority to tell Philemon what to do.
9 Instead of being commanding, however, Paul rather make his appeal towards Philemon more loving and soft. He begins his appeal my mentioning who he is; an older man imprisoned due to Christian persecution.
10 Continuing his appeal, Paul mentions who it is for: his son Onesimus, who became his son during his imprisonment. “Son” here is, again, a figurative word relating to the spiritual connections

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