2 Peter 2:1 Meaning… According to John Owen

The following text explaining the meaning of 2 Peter 2:1 is found in John Owen’s Death of Death in the Death of Christ, Book IV, Chapter V, Roman Numeral III.

Owen starts this discussion back in Book IV, Chapter II – “An entrance to the answer unto particular arguments.

Two sorts of arguments against limited atonement

Owen begins by noting that there are two sorts of arguments used by those who deny limited atonement or particular redemption – the teaching that Jesus’ intention in dying was for the elect only…

Now, the objections laid against the truth maintained [of limited atonement or particular redemption] are of two sorts; the first, taken from Scripture perverted; the other, from reason abused.

So, those who believe that Jesus died for every single human being who ever lived argue in two ways – by perverting Scripture and by abusing reason.

Objections to limited atonement from Scripture

Owen begins by dealing with arguments used to deny limited atonement by perverting Scrpture…

We begin with the first, the objections taken from scripture; all the places whereof that may any way seem to contradict our assertion [of limited atonement or particular redemption] are, by our strongest adversaries, in their greatest strength, referred to three heads:—

Three heads of Scripture used to deny limited atonement

First, Those places that affirm that Christ died for the world, or that otherwise make mention of the word world in the business of redemption. Secondly, Those that mention all and every man, either in the work of Christ’s dying for them, or where God is said to will their salvation. Thirdly, Those which affirm Christ bought or died for them that perish.

It’s this third head – places in Scripture which seem to affirm that Christ bought or died for those who end up perishing where Owen will discuss the meaning of 2 Peter 2:1.

Hence they draw out three principal arguments or sophisms, on which they much insist. All which we shall, by the Lord’s assistance, consider in their several order, with the places of Scripture brought to confirm and strengthen them.

Christ bought or died for those who ultimately perish

Owen then goes on to deal with passages in Scripture where God speaks of the world and where he speaks of all and every man.

Then he comes to passages where it speaks of God buying people who ultimately perish (Book IV, Chapter V, Roman Numeral III).

I come, in the next place, to the third and last argument, drawn from the Scripture, wherewith the Arminians and their successors (as to this point) do strive to maintain their figment of universal redemption; and it is taken from such texts of Scripture as seem to hold out the perishing of some of them for whom Christ died, and the fruitlessness of his blood in respect of divers for whom it was shed.

In other words, if those for whom Christ actually died end up perishing, then Christ’s blood is fruitless for the vast majority of those for whom is was supposedly shed.

And on this theme their wits are wonderfully luxuriant, and they are full of rhetorical strains to set out the unsuccessfulness and fruitlessness of the blood of Christ in respect of the most for whom it was shed, with the perishing of bought, purged, reconciled sinners.

So, Arminians go to great lengths to advocate for the uselessness of Christ’s blood in the lives of those for whom it was shed.

Who can but believe that this persuasion tends to the consolation of poor souls, whose strongest defence lieth in making vile the precious blood of the Lamb, yea, trampling upon it, and esteeming it as a common thing?

But, friends, let me tell you, I am persuaded it was not so unvaluable in the eyes of his Father as to cause it to be poured out in vain, in respect of any one soul.

Owen is convinced that Christ’s blood wasn’t so worthless in the eyes of God the Father so as to pour it out for no reason on those whom he never intended to save.

But seeing we must be put to this defence, — wherein we cannot but rejoice, it tending so evidently to the honour of our blessed Saviour, — let us consider what can be said by Christians (at least in name) to enervate the efficacy of the blood-shedding, of the death of him after whose name they desire to be called. Thus, then, they argue:—

The Arminian argument: Christ died for those that perish

If Christ died for reprobates and those that perish, then he died for all and every one, for confessedly he died for the elect and those that are saved; but he died for reprobates, and them that perish: therefore,” etc.

The Arminians arguethat Christ died for all and every person – for the elect who are ultimately saved and for the reprobate who are ultimately condemned.

An answer to the Arminian argument for universal redemption

Ans. For the assumption, or second proposition of this argument [that Christ died for the reprobate and those who end up perishing], we shall do what we conceive was fit for all the elect of God to do, — positively deny it (taking the death of Christ, here said to be for them, to be considered not in respect of its own internal worth and sufficiency, but, as it was intended by the Father and Son, in respect of them for whom he died).

So, Owen clarifies that he’s not denying that the worth and sufficiency of Christ’s death is unlimited, but rather that the intention of the Father and Son is Christ’s death was selective for only his people.

It was not Christ’s intention to die for reprobates

We deny, then, I say, that Christ, by the command of his Father, and with intention to make satisfaction for sins, did lay down his life for reprobates and them that perish.

So, Owen denies that Christ laid down his life for those who will end up in hell.

Arminian proof texts that Christ died for reprobates

This, then, they prove from Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:11; 2 Peter 2:1; Hebrews 10:29.

Now, that no such thing as is pretended is proved from any of the places alleged, we shall show by the consideration of them in the order they are laid down in.

Owen then deals with Romans 14:15 and 1 Corinthians 8:11 before taking up 2 Peter 2:1.

Three uncertainties for Arminians in 2 Peter 2:1

The next place is much insisted on, — namely, 2 Peter 2:1, “There shall be false teachers, denying the Lord that bought them, and bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”

All things here, as to any proof of the business in hand [attempting to prove that Christ died for the reprobate], are exceedingly dark, uncertain, and doubtful.

Uncertain, that by the Lord is meant the Lord Christ, the word in the original being Δεσπότης, seldom or never ascribed to him [once in Jude 4 out of ten uses in the New Testament];

uncertain, whether the purchase or buying of these false teachers refer to the eternal redemption by the blood of Christ, or a deliverance by God’s goodness from the defilement of the world in idolatry, or the like, by the knowledge of the truth, — which last [deliverance and not redemption] the text expressly affirms;

uncertain, whether the apostle speaketh of this purchase according to the reality of the thing, or according to their apprehension and their profession.

So, Owen identifies three uncertainties in this text when one tries to use 2 Peter 2:1 to prove that Christ died for every person who has ever lived.

He says that it’s uncertain that the “Lord” or master (Δεσπότης) referred to is even speaking of Christ. That Greek word is used ten times in the New Testament. Five times it’s used of a human master of slaves or servants (1 Timothy 6:1,2; 2 Timothy 2:21; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18). Three times it’s used of God the Father (Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; Revelation 6:10). Once it’s used of Jesus Christ (Jude 4). And then there’s this passage, which Owen argues doesn’t even refer to Jesus.

Also uncertain from the text is whether the false teachers being bought is a reference to eternal redemption by Christ’s blood or rather some sort of deliverance from some of the defilements of the world (and Owen thinks the latter is right). He’ll give more defense for this claim later.

Finally, Owen asserted that it’s not as though Christ actually bought these false prophets, but that rather that they think and claim that he did and that others assume the same about them.

Two certainties about 2 Peter 2:1

Owen then moves on from uncertainties to certainties concerning this passage of Scripture…

On the other side, it is most certain, —

First, That there are no spiritual distinguishing fruits of redemption ascribed to these false teachers, but only common gifts of light and knowledge, which Christ hath purchased for many for whom he did not make his soul a ransom.

Secondly, That, according to our adversaries, the redemption of any by the blood of Christ cannot be a peculiar aggravatio[n] of the sins of any, because they say he died for all; and yet this buying of the false teachers is held out as an aggravation of their sin in particular.

Uncertainties revisited

Owen goes on to elaborate on the uncertainties which he previously laid out before progressing later to explain what the truth is concerning 2 Peter 2:1…

Of the former uncertainties, whereon our adversaries build their inference of universal redemption (which yet can by no means be wire-drawn thence, were they most certain in their sense), I shall give a brief account, and then speak something as to the proper intendment of the place.

Uncertainty that “Lord” refers to Christ the mediator

For the first, It is most uncertain whether Christ, as mediator, be here intended by Lord or no.

There is not any thing in the text to enforce us so to conceive, nay, the contrary seems apparent, —

Two reasons why “Lord” doesn’t speak of Christ in 2 Peter 2:1

First, Because in the following verses, God only, as God, with his dealings towards such as these [false teachers], is mentioned; of Christ not a word.

This is the case in 2 Peter 2:4-19.

God is mentioned in verse 4 as casting angels into hell, in verse 5 of not sparing the ancient world but preserving Noah through the world-wide flood, in verse 6 of judging Sodom and Gomorrah, and in verse 7 of rescuing Lot.

In verse 9 it’s the Lord who rescues the godly and keeps the ungodly under punishment until the day of judgement. Angels dare not blaspheme “the glorious ones” before the Lord in verse 11.

It’s not until verse 20 that Jesus Christ is named – where he’s said to be the one by whom “those who are barely escaping from those who live in error” “have escaped the defilements of the world” and are “again entagled in them and overcome…” And in this case, Jesus is not mentioned with reference to the false teachers themselves – but rather to those whom the false teachers deceive.

Secondly, The name Δεσπότης, properly [in Latin] “Herus,” attended by dominion and sovereignty, is not usually, if at all, given to our Saviour in the New Testament [the only exception out of ten instances is Jude 4]; he is everywhere called Κύριος, nowhere clearly Δεσπότης, as is the Father, Luke 2:29, Acts 4:24, and in divers other places.

Besides, if it should appear that this name were given our Saviour in any one place, doth it therefore follow that it must be so here? nay, is the name proper for our Saviour, in the work of redemption?

Δεσπότης is such a Lord or Master as refers to servants and subjection; the end of Christ’s purchasing any by his blood being in the Scripture always and constantly expressed in other terms, of more endearment.

It is, then, most uncertain that Christ should be here understood by the word Lord.

Uncertainty that buying is a reference to Chris’t blood

[Secondly], But suppose he [Christ] should [be identified as Δεσπότης], it is most uncertain that by buying of these false teachers is meant his purchasing of them with the ransom of his blood; for, —

Three reasons that “bought” isn’t referring to ransoming through Christ’s blood

First, The apostle insisteth on a comparison with the times of the Old Testament, and the false prophets that were then amongst the people, backing his assertion with divers examples out of the Old Testament in the whole chapter following.

Now, the word ἀγοράζω, here used, signifieth primarily the buying of things; translatitiously, the redemption of persons; — and the word פָּדָה in the Old Testament, answering thereunto, signifieth any deliverance, as Deuteronomy 7:8, 15:15, Jeremiah 15:21, with innumerable other places: and, therefore, some such deliverance is here only intimated.

Secondly, Because here is no mention of blood, death, price, or offering of Jesus Christ, as in other places, where proper redemption is treated on; especially, some such expression is added where the word ἀγοράζω is used to express it, as 1 Corinthians 6:20, Revelation 5:9, which otherwise holds out of itself deliverance in common from any trouble.

Thirdly, The apostle setting forth at large the deliverance they had had, and the means thereof, 2 Peter 2:20, affirms it to consist in the “escaping of the pollutions of the world,” as idolatry, false worship, and the like, “through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;” plainly declaring that their buying was only in respect of this separation from the world, in respect of the enjoyment of the knowledge of the truth; but of washing in the blood of the Lamb, he is wholly silent.

Plainly, there is no purchase mentioned of these false teachers, but a deliverance, by God’s dispensations towards them, from the blindness of Judaism or Paganism, by the knowledge of the gospel; whereby the Lord bought them to be servants to him, as their supreme head.

So that our adversaries’ argument from this place is this:— “God the Lord, by imparting the knowledge of the gospel, and working them to a professed acknowledgment of it and subjection unto it, separated and delivered from the world divers that were saints in show, — really wolves and hypocrites, of old ordained to condemnation: therefore, Jesus Christ shed his blood for the redemption and salvation of all reprobates and damned persons in the whole world.” Who would not admire our adversaries’ chemistry?

The purchase is not real but supposed

Thirdly, Neither is it more certain that the apostle speaketh of the purchase of the wolves and hypocrites, in respect of the reality of the purchase, and not rather in respect of that estimation which others had of them, — and, by reason of their outward seeming profession, ought to have had, — and of the profession that themselves made to be purchased by him whom they pretended to preach to others; as the Scripture saith [of Ahaz], “The gods of Damascus smote him,” because he himself so imagined and professed, 2 Chronicles 28:23.

The latter hath this also to render it probable, — namely, that it is the perpetual course of the Scripture, to ascribe all those things to every one that is in the fellowship of the church which are proper to them only who are true spiritual members of the same; as to be saints, elect, redeemed, etc.

Now, the truth is, from this their profession, that they were bought by Christ, might the apostle justly, and that according to the opinion of our adversaries, press these false teachers, by the way of aggravating their sin. For the thing itself, their being bought, it could be no more urged to them than to heathens and infidels that never heard of the name of the Lord Jesus.

The truth of the matter

Now, after all this, if our adversaries can prove universal redemption from this text, let them never despair of success in any thing they undertake, be it never so absurd, fond, or foolish.

But when they have wrought up the work already cut out for them, and proved, —

first, That by the Lord is meant Christ as mediator;

secondly, That by buying is meant spiritual redemption by the blood of the Lamb;

thirdly, That these false teachers were really and effectually so redeemed, and not only so accounted because of the church;

fourthly, That those who are so redeemed may perish, contrary to the express Scripture, Revelation 14:4;

fifthly, Manifest the strength of this inference, “Some in the church who have acknowledged Christ to be their purchaser, fall away to blaspheme him, and perish forever: therefore, Christ bought and redeemed all that ever did or shall perish;

sixthly, That that which is common to all is a peculiar aggravation to the sin of any one more than others;

— I will assure them they shall have more work provided for them, which themselves know for a good part already where to find.

Philemon Pronunciation

When you think of the word Philemon pronunciation is maybe the first thing that comes to mind.

But the pronunciation of Philemon is pretty simple.

Who Was Philemon?

Philemon is the name of a man who received a letter from the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.

What Language?

Now, Paul wrote in Greek to this man. And in Greek, his name is…


And that looks complicated to the typical English reader. But let’s break it down.

The Greek Letters Behind Philemon’s Pronunciation

  • φ is the Greek consonant phi and it sounds like an English f.
  • ι is the Greek vowel iota and it sounds like a short English i.
  • λ is the Greek consonant lambda and sounds like the English l.
  • ή is the Greek vowel eta which sounds like ay in the English word say. Also notice the accent mark above the letter. That most likely means that this vowel was given the stress when the word was pronounced.
  • μ is the Greek consonant mu and sounds like an English m.
  • ο is the vowel omicron and sounds like a short o in English.
  • ν is the consonant nu and sounds like the English n.
  • ο (see above!)
  • ς is the Greek consonant sigma in the form they used to end words (Yes, they had two forms of that one Greek letter!). It sounds like an English s.

Philemon Pronunciation in Greek

So, when you put these letters all together you have a word that sounds like this…

Philemon Pronunciation in English

And yet, we English speakers don’t usually pronounce our words like this. So, here’s the more typical way to pronounce Philemon in English…

How Philemon is Abbreviated

And if you’re curious as to how Philemon might be abbreviated when referenced as a book of the Bible, it can appear as Phm. as in Phm 1:4 or simply (because it consists of only one chapter) Phm 4.

How Paul Prayed for Philemon

After revealing the author and recipients of this letter and then giving his typical greeting, Paul in Philemon 1:4 begins his main message to Philemon. And interestingly enough – he begins by revealing how he prays for this man.

I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,

Paul Thanks God for Philemon

The first thing that Paul wants Philemon to know is that he thanks God his God. This is that God the Father that he mentioned in Philemon 1:3 who gives grace and peace. He’s the one common Father of all believers – Philemon, Paul, and everyone else. And it’s to this God that Paul gives thanks.

Paul Prayed for Philemon

But what is it that’s encouraging Paul to give thanks to his God in this context? Paul gives thanks to his God when he makes mention of Philemon in his prayers.

As Paul prayed, he would apparently often/all the time/”always” think of this beloved fellow-worker of his. And as he thought of Philemon he couldn’t help but gives thanks to God for him.

Why Give Thanks?

And Paul continues in Philemon 1:5 to explain what it is that makes him thank his God for this brother.

Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;

This hearing that Paul mentions is what prompts him to make mention always of Philemon – which in turn causes the apostle to give thanks to his God for this beloved fellow-worker.

What Had Paul Heard?

Paul has heard of Philemon’s love and faith. And he says that Philemon has these two things toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints.

Philemon Loved Jesus and Believers

It’s easy to see how Philemon would have love for both Jesus and his fellow sanctified ones (“saints”). Just the fact that Philemon hosted a local assembly of believers in his home is enough to strongly indicate his love for Christ and his followers.

In addition, Philemon – through his labors with Paul and Timothy – had become one whom they considered to be a beloved fellow-worker. One who has no love for Jesus Christ or his people would not be thought of in this way by someone as spiritually mature as the apostle Paul.

Philemon Trusted Jesus Christ

So, it’s easy to see how Philemon could be said to have love for Christ and other believers. It’s also easy to see how Philemon had faith toward (προς) Jesus. Paul says in Ephesians 2 that we’re saved by grace through faith. This is the starting point for the Christian – faith in Jesus Christ to save him from his sin.

Philemon Had Faith… Toward Saints???

But how can it be said that Philemon has faith toward (εις) all the saints?

First of all, notice the different preposition in Greek as it relates to Jesus (προς) and to the saints (εις). Philemon has love and faith pros Jesus Christ and eis all the saints. He uses different prepositions to apply those two realities to both Jesus and believers.

Then what we have is the possibility that eis means something more like among rather than toward. Philemon has/demonstrates/acts out love and faith as he lives among his fellow-believers.

Back to Why Paul Prays for Philemon

And so, in Philemon 1:6, Paul goes back to an idea he started in verse 4. There he was thanking God as he made mention of Philemon.

Then he took a short detour in verse 5 and seemed to want to express what caused him to make mention of Philemon – that he was hearing of this man’s faith and love.

But now, Paul wants to get back to speaking of why he makes constant mention of Philemon. He does this so…

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

This is why Paul makes constant mention of Philemon to the Lord. So that the communication or of his faith may become effectual.

What does that mean?

Philemon Shared Because of His Faith

Another way that communication is translated is fellowship. And it’s a fellowship of Philemon’s faith. It’s what he shares in common with other believers through or because of his faith.

What does Philemon share in common with other believers as a result of his trusting Jesus Christ? Well, we’ve seen that Philemon shares his physical home in common with other believers – the church that was meeting in his house. He did this solely because of his faith in Christ.

Philemon’s Sharing Needs to Become Effectual?

And that was a good sign – that he was sharing even his own home in common with other believers because of his faith in Christ. But why does Paul need to pray that this sharing would become effectual?

The word effectual is a Greek word from which we get the term energetic. So, Paul is wanting Philemon’s sharing to become more and more energetic or operative or lively. Why does he want that?

Paul Wants Philemon to Share His Former Servant

Well, we’re going to see later on in this book that Paul is wanting Philemon to share a former slave of his named Philemon. And so, Paul starts off his letter to this man that seeks something of his by admitting that he does pray for Philemon to grow in his sharing of his things.

What Helps Us Share?

And Paul says that this sharing will become more operative by the acknowledging every good thing that is in “you [all]” in Christ Jesus.

Isn’t it often easier to share when you know how many good things you really have from Christ? How much more easily we can part with the trinkets of this life by lending them to others when we know how much treasure we truly have in this life and in the life to come.

In Christ, the believer has everything he needs and more. So, Paul is praying that God would help Philemon to see how much good he and his family and church have (you is plural, after all) because of Christ. And he then seems to hope that this will cause Philemon to hold everything in this life – including his servant Onesimus – with a loose hand, willing to share with others.

Grace to You and Peace in Philemon

After revealing the authors of Philemon as well as the recipients, Paul goes on to utter his oft-repeated greeting in Philemon 1:3.

Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is a familiar greeting from the apostle Paul. In fact, in each of the thirteen New Testament letters he wrote he starts with some form of this statement.

But there are a few nuances to each “Grace to You” greeting he gives.

In all thirteen greetings, Paul mentions grace and peace. From there, there are some differences.

For example, all that he mentions in 1 Thessalonians 1:1 is grace and peace and he wishes/prays it for you all. But he doesn’t mention from where this grace and peace come.

In Colossians 1:2 Paul says that the grace and peace come from God our Father.

And then in the other eleven greetings he gives, he mentions that this grace and peace are from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul adds a wish/prayer for mercy for Timothy in addition to grace and peace. And in Titus, he adds that Jesus Christ is our savior.

But in Philemon – in the context – Paul is writing to a man and his household and even his church that he hosts in his home and he wishes that God would add to them what only God can add – real grace and real peace.

Philemon as I’ve argued is likely wealthy. He also has a believing family. What more could he need?

He needs what we all need – more grace and more peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

There’s a saying that comes up around holidays that goes something like “get x-product for the man/woman that has everything.” Do you know what to give to the fellow Christian in this life that seems to have everything? Pray for them along these lines – that God would give them more and more grace and more and more peace.

Money doesn’t give grace and peace. A good home life doesn’t give grace and peace – at least not as much as we need. God uses things in this life to convey grace and peace to us. And yet – it all comes from God. And we need as much of it as he will give.

So, let’s pray this way for each other like Paul and Timothy prayed for Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, and the church in Philemon’s house (“you” is plural, after all).

To Whom is Philemon Written?

So, we’ve established that Paul and Timothy are the authors of the New Testament letter of Philemon.

But now, to whom are they writing? Philemon 1:1 continues and tells us the recipient of this letter and what Paul and Timothy consider him to be to them.

Recipient: Philemon

unto Philemon

our dearly beloved,
and fellowlabourer,

So, Paul and Timothy are writing to a man named Philemon.

How to Pronounce “Philemon”

Let’s get something out of the way first. How do you pronounce that name Philemon? It’s not that common of a name where I’m from – maybe you’re like me and you don’t know anyone by that name.

The Greek word is φιλήμονι. Transliterated into English that’s philemoni. The last i at the end of the word is simply telling us that this letter is being written to this man, so we can drop it out for now, leaving philemon. The first i is short, the e sounds like ay and the o is short. So, you would pronounce Philemon like Phih-LAY-mon. Almost like you’re a Jamaican telling someone the fish is ready to eat – “There’s a filet, man!”

Who is Philemon?

So, we know how to say his name. But who is Philemon?

Well, he’s actually not mentioned anywhere in Scripture outside of this epistle. So, we have to gather our facts about this man from this short book that bears his name.

And so, what does the apostle Paul say about this man Philemon in this book written to him?

Dearly Beloved

First, Philemon is our dearly beloved. Both Paul and Timothy loved this man. When they’re writing to this man they’re not writing to a stranger. They’re not writing to an enemy. They’re not even writing to a fair-weather lukewarm friend. They are writing to someone that they both love.


And part of why Paul and Timothy love Philemon surely must involve the second description given to him – that he’s a fellowlabourer of Paul and Timothy. He has worked with them in times past and continues to work with them.

But, what kind of work are we talking about? Is Paul saying that Philemon was a tent-maker like he was for a living?

No, I think it goes beyond that. Paul made tents so that he could do the work he was really called to – preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to both Jew and Gentile. And I think it’s that work that Paul is referring to here.

Philemon was – in some ways at least – in on the action that Paul and Timothy were involved in – evangelizing and doing the work of the ministry. He was a fellow-worker with them in this business of spreading the news of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

So, when Paul and Timothy consider Philemon, they think of a man that they just absolutely love. And part of that love they have for him stems from the fact that he is interested in proclaiming the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Philemon’s Not Alone

And actually, I’ve been speaking so far as if there was only one recipient of this letter. But actually, in Philemon 1:2, Paul and Timothy name two more individuals that they’re writing this letter to – as well as a congregation of people of some size that they intend to have this letter read to.

And to

our beloved Apphia,


Archippus our fellowsoldier,

and to

the church in thy house:

Recipient: Apphia

So, Paul and Timothy are writing this letter – anticipating that this lady named Apphia will read it. We know she’s a lady because her name in Greek is feminine.


The King James Version quoted above has her as the beloved. This corresponds to how Paul and Timothy describe Philemon – just in the feminine form (Greek: agapete) rather than the masculine (Greek: agapeto) describing Philemon.

However, the Nestle-Aland and UBS Greek texts have the word sister (Greek: adelfe) instead of beloved (Greek: agapete).

So, if the original writing was beloved then Paul and Timothy consider Apphia as just a precious to them as they consider Philemon.

If the original was sister then that sort of coincides with how Paul described Timothy in Philemon 1:1 (as “brother”) perhaps pointing to the fact that just like Timothy was a helper to Paul, so too was Apphia a helper to Philemon.

Now, Apphia’s relationship to Philemon was likely that of spouse. In other words, she was Philemon’s wife.

And if that’s the case, then quite possibly the next name mentioned was their son.

Recipient: Archippus

Archippus is said to be the fellowsoldier of Paul and Timothy. Paul is speaking metaphorically.

That is, Paul and Timothy and Archippus were not all in the Roman army together. They certainly weren’t in some sort of early Christian militia.

No – Paul says in 2 Corinthians that his weapons – and ours – are not carnal. He and all Christians are in a war – but we’re not fighting against humans. Our enemy is spiritual and unseen. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, he admits in Ephesians. Our struggle is against spiritual invisible enemies.

And Archippus has entered that battle alongside of Paul and Timothy. They knew him and knew of his fighting in prayer and in other spiritual disciplines.

Archippus may likely have been the son of Philemon and Apphia – and he was probably at least in his teens.

And if that’s the case, then what we see here in Philemon 1:2 is a wonderful picture of a family determined to do God’s will. We see each of the members of that family faithfully following Christ and thereby earning the commendation of the apostle Paul and Timothy.

So, Paul and Timothy are writing to a family of believers.

Recipient: The Church Hosted by Philemon

But Paul’s not done yet. Because not only did Philemon’s abode house a family of believers – it housed a church.

Paul writes to the church in Philemon’s house. So, apparently Philemon and his family hosted a gathering of believers regularly in his home.

Of course, Church buildings as we know them today were likely not being constructed in the times of the apostle Paul. When a number of sinners were won to Christ, they had to find a place to meet. And often – from casual references in the New Testament – it seems that these congregations would meet in the home of a more wealthy individual in the church who would have a home large enough to host numerous individuals.

And so, Philemon – as we can imagine – may have been wealthy in addition to being godly.

The picture we get of this man keeps getting more and more encouraging. He’s a beloved fellow-worker of the apostolic company. His wife is a believer and his son is also. They have kindly opened their home to the church in their city. And this man is getting these commendations by no less a spiritually-mature man than the apostle Paul. Philemon is a godly man.

Philemon Author

In Philemon 1 we see the co-authors of this letter and how they’d like to be thought of by the recipient of their epistle.

Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother,

Philemon Author: Paul

So, we have Paul who sees himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ.

Paul was in prison at this time. He was a prisoner – but why? It’s because of Jesus Christ. He is in prison for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s not for his own crimes that he’s there. He’s incarcerated for serving Christ and doing his will.

So then, Paul writes from a position of weakness and servitude and self-denial – all attitudes and actions that he will call the recipient of this letter to in the ensuing verses.

And when it comes down to it, Paul eventually asks the recipient of this epistle to send a helper back to him. And we can see why he needs this helper – because he is in prison. Not a modern American prison with room service and all the frills. But we’re talking about an ancient Roman prison where you can use all the help you can get.

So, that’s one author of this book – Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ. The one in prison because of Jesus Christ.

Philemon Author: Timothy

We also have Timothy who is a brother.

The brother of whom? we may ask.

Timothy is the brother of both Paul and of the recipient of this letter – but not in the physical literal sense. They didn’t share a father or a mother. We know that fact from the book of Acts. Timothy was not physically related to Paul.

So, Paul is speaking metaphorically of Timothy being his brother. In Christ, our union with fellow-believers is so close it can be compared to a family setting. We’re all brothers and sisters. And we share one common Father – the Lord who saved us from our sins through the death of his Son, Jesus Christ.

So, these are the authors of this New Testament letter.

How Hebrews 10 Uses Psalm 40

So, let’s go on over to Hebrews 10. We’ll read and comment on verses 1-10.

KJV Hebrews 10:1 ¶ For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

OK, so the author of Hebrews is claiming that there is some deficiency in the Law. This is God in the New Testament admitting that the Law that he authored in the Old Testament had some deficiencies.

And if that weren’t the case – if the Law was all that was needed – verse 2…

2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

But that’s not the case. The Law wasn’t all that was needed, because of what he says in verse 3.

3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

Why’s that? Verse 4.

4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

That’s the key. The Law is perfect. But it was never able to take away sin. It only reminded those who followed it that they were sinners.

So, God brought Jesus into the world. And when he did, Jesus embodied the spirit of the psalmist in Psalm 40.

5 ¶ Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith,

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not,
but a body hast thou prepared me:

And by the way, that’s not exactly what we saw in the Hebrew text. We saw David saying that the Lord had “dug his ears.” But now here we have Jesus saying that God had prepared a body for him.

The explanation behind that is that the Hebrew text has what we saw in Psalm 40. But now here Hebrews is quoting from the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Old Testament. And the Septuagint translated the Hebrew as saying that God had prepared a body for the psalmist.

And it’s that translation that the Holy Spirit decided to use in the book of Hebrews when he describes Jesus coming into the world to do something that the Old Testament sacrifices could never do.

In fact, he goes so far as to say that God had no pleasure in those sacrifices in verse 6.

6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

So, Jesus – seeing and understanding these things – now has a declaration to make.

7 Then said I,

Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

And that’s where the quote from Psalm 40 ends.

But now the author of Hebrews is going to explain why he mentioned Psalm 40 – in this context – regarding the Law not being sufficient to purge the conscience of sin. Verse 8.

8 Above when he said,

Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein;

which are offered by the law;

So, he inserts that mention of the fact that indeed the Law did prescribe offering these things. Verse 9.

9 Then said he,

Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.

He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

In other words, Jesus acknowledges that God’s ultimate delight is not in sacrifice – but in obedience. He – like David before him – came to do God’s will.

And – wonder of wonders – it’s God’s will that we be sanctified, according to verse 10.

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

So, we praise the Lord for what the offering of Jesus’ body did that the offering of animals could never do – purge consciences of sin and sanctify those who trust in him.

OK – that’s Hebrews 10. Jesus embodies the spirit of the psalmist in Psalm 40 of doing God’s will above offering sacrifice.  And of course, for our Lord Jesus Christ – doing God’s will meant being the sacrifice for the sins of God’s people.

So, with that understood – let’s go back to Psalm 40. And the 9th verse…