Select Page
Read Introduction to Philemon


“But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.”


But without your consent I wanted to do nothing,

Paul had no thought of keeping the renegade slave Onesimus without Philemon’s consent. Paul did not presume on the fact that he led Philemon to Christ. 

that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary

Paul did not want to provide extrinsic motivation to Philemon to release Onesimus. He wanted Philemon to decide his own will.  This is the only use of the Greek word for “voluntary” in the New Testament. The idea is a willingness to do something without being forced or pressured to do it but to do it of one’s own free will


Compulsion is not good leadership, but consideration for others is good leadership. 


Good leadership appeals to volition rather than imposing commands on others against their will.  We do not want others to do what we want simply because we said so.  We want them to do what they do because they want to do it. 

1 Co 9:17, “For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.”

1 Pe 5:2, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly…”

Pontifical leadership is not effective leadership.  Issuing decrees, encyclicals, and fiats suppress the volition of our followers.  Coercion always boomerangs back to the leader.  Nagging and pressuring people to serve the Lord will not produce people who genuinely serve the Lord and desire to do it of their own free will. 

2 Co 9:7, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”