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A Commentary on Philemon

How well do you know the greatest gift of God?

You might be surprised to hear that there is a book in the Bible called Philemon. It is a rather short one. You might have brushed right over it a time or two and not even realized it. Despite its small size, the book is quite colossal, theologically speaking. It instructs us on forgiveness and does so in a unique and practical way. And while it does this, it gently teaches on matters of equality, fellowship, edification, and more. Only 25 verses long, it packs 25 chapters worth of divine guidance for us all. In this book, we will unpack these divinities so we can think and behave more like our Lord, who is a forgiving God (Ex. 34:6-7).

Technically, this book is called a “commentary” on Philemon; however, it has been written in a way that is unlike typical commentaries, which often read like textbooks, focus on individual passages, and have a choppy flow. This book is fluid, transitioning from point to point, like topical books do; however, all of the points are posited by Scripture.

This is a commentary for those who don’t like commentaries. My hope is that you enjoy both the richness of biblical exposition and the ease of reading, all at the same time.

“For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” (Philemon 15-16)


“In this day when the book of Philemon is commonly used to promote the trickery of leveraging relationships or Paul’s coercion of Philemon, this book on Forgiveness reads like a breath of biblical fresh air from the heart of God. The author takes us through the grace and godliness of forgiveness and weaves a strong tapestry that unveils the attitude of forgiveness and the separate act of forgiveness. Truly a new commentary we need in the Church where forgiveness is doled out like common candy.”

— Dr. Mark Struck, Desiring God

“I was greatly surprised to find Jacob Abshire’s commentary on Philemon to be the best I have ever read. His ability to present the intricate details of the original language along with the accurate presentation of the message and teaching of Philemon is a one-of-a-kind gift. I would recommend Forgiveness: A Commentary on Philemon above all other commentaries on this book.”

— Bill Klein, President of The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America

“We’re confused about what forgiveness means in our culture—so much so that we rarely use the word anymore. We think saying ‘sorry’ when we’ve done something wrong (or sometimes just when we feel bad) is enough. But forgiveness is so much more—because, at its core, forgiveness is a gospel issue. Indeed, without the gospel, there is no true forgiveness. Jacob Abshire understands this and it’s what I so appreciate about his book, Forgiveness: A Commentary on Philemon. In this book, Abshire unpacks the message of Paul’s oft-neglected (and sometimes misunderstood) letter while showing readers how forgiveness brings life to the gospel-saturated, Spirit- lled heart and ows out of that same heart in response. Readers will be blessed as they carefully read and apply this important work.”

— Aaron Armstrong, author of Awaiting a Savior and Contend

“In his book Forgiveness, Jacob Abshire has produced a well-written and thought-provoking text on the oft-neglected book of Philemon. He approaches the text with great respect for its integrity as it was written while contextualizing and making it relative to life in today’s world. is book analyzes one of the major themes of the Apostolic Scriptures, that of forgiveness and the blessing that comes for both the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven. Abshire also provides a sensitive analysis of perspectives on slavery and bond servanthood as they were practiced and experienced in biblical times. I highly recommend this work for all believers, especially young people.”

— John D. Garr, Ph.D., Chancellor of Hebraic Heritage Christian College