Philemon 1:4-7 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. 6I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. 7Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
Once more, in this our last devotional from Paul’s prayers, he gives thanks. In this case it is to God for an individual, Philemon. The ‘because’ for this thanksgiving is his faith in the Lord Jesus and his love for all the saints. Do you know anyone you can give thanks for that way?
Then Paul prays, that this same brother ‘may be active in sharing’ his faith. The NIV translation (above) might lead you to think this is a prayer for him to be active in evangelism, and indirectly it probably is. But the actual word for sharing is ‘koinonia,’ the word we usually translate ‘fellowship.’ Look at the way a few different versions translate the verse:
New American Standard: and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.
Holman Christian Study Bible: I pray that your participation in the faith may become effective through knowing every good thing that is in us for ?the glory of? Christ.
English Standard Version: and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.
Seems to be a tough one even for the translators! The ESV Study Bible says “Sharing (Gk. koin?nia) as used here would seem to carry a wide range of meaning, including the ideas of generosity, partnership, and fellowship that result from the common faith and common life that believers have in Christ. . . Philemon’s sharing will result in his own deeper knowledge of every good thing in Christ, that is, a deeper awareness and experience of the blessings that Christ has for him.”
Notice that Paul goes on to rejoice in the love Philemon has shown as he has ‘refreshed the hearts of the saints.’ Philemon seems to be characterizes by loving kindness and generosity that cares for his brothers and sisters in Christ. Do you know anyone like that?
And oh, by the way, Jesus promises that if we have that love for one another, it will be a witness to the world (John 13:34-35).
Carry Your Love seems to capture this perfectly: ‘ready our hearts to carry your love!’