Observe here, 1. A pathetic repetition of our apostle's former petition, with the force and strength of a fresh and additional argument. Thus, "O my brother, that which revives me in a prison, and refreshes my bowels, now I am in bonds, that assuredly thou oughtest to do; but thy remitting and receiving Onesimus will thus refresh me, therefore do it."
Learn thence, That whatsoever Christians know will rejoice the hearts and revive the spirits, of one another, ought in mutual condescension and kindness to be performed each towards other upon their mutual requests. How unnatural it is for one member to vex and grieve another! as unbecoming is it in the body spiritual as it is in the body natural. Brother let me have joy in the Lord, refresh my bowels in the Lord.
Observe, 2. Our apostle's holy confidence in Philemon's obedience and compliance; Having confidence in thy obedience, I know thou wilt do more than I say. See here what credit and honour conscience and obedience puts upon a man: Philemon's good conscience occasioned St. Paul's confidence: it is a special honour when the general course of a man's life is so steady, so uniform, and even, that either our ministers or pious friends dare to be confident in us, vouch for us, and engage for our obedience and compliance with whatever becomes us.
Observe, 3. St. Paul having finished his request for Onesimus, speaks one word for himself, namely, that a lodging might be prepared for him; hoping, it seems, for a deliverance out of prison by the help of the church's prayers. Prepare me a lodging. Religion is no enemy to hospitality; nay, it requires it, and encourages it, Rom_12:13Heb_13:2. It is a duty imcumbant upon all, but especially ministers: but an unkind world takes care that some have scarce bread sufficient for their families, much less have an ability for hospitality, or indeed for those necessary acts of charity which are required by God and expected by man, to render their labours amongst their people both acceptable and successful. The ministers of God, when they ask bread of some, they give them a stone, and when they demand their dues of others, they sting like a scorpion; but, blessed be God, it is not thus universally.
Note, lastly, what it was St. Paul grounded his expectation of deliverance upon, namely, the help and benefit of the church's prayers: I trust through your prayers I shall be given unto you.
Learn that our deliverance from trouble is to be expected and sought by the means of the prayers of such as fear God; yet mark, Though prayer obtains much, yet it merits nothing at God's hand. I trust through your prayers I shall be given, that is, freely given unto you; though we obtain blessings by prayer, yet not for the merit of our prayers. If mercy were due to us, thankfulness were not due to God.