In Philem 9 the writer speaks of himself as Παῦλος πρεσβύτης (AV and RV the aged,’ RVm ‘ambassador’). In strictness the ‘ambassador’ requires πρεσβευτής, a word which does not occur in the NT. The two forms may have been confused in transcription or in common use. The translation ‘ambassador’ is more fitting because , as father of , who was old enough to hold some ‘ministry’ in the (Col 4:17), must have been the equal, or nearly the equal, of St. Paul in age; and there would be little or no ground for an appeal based on considerations of age. It is also to be noticed that the phrase ‘ambassador and … prisoner of ’ is practically repeated in Eph 6:20, ‘an ambassador in bonds.’

Taking as ‘ambassador,’ the appeal would have in it a note of authority. It is not a relevant objection to say that St. Paul is beseeching Philemon ‘for love’s sake’ (v. 9). It is the peculiarity of the ambassador that he beseeches those whom he addresses. Love and authority are commingled in his mission, as in 2 Co 5:14, 20. The likelihood of ‘ambassador’ being the right translation is strengthened by the fact that here as (2 Co 5:20, Eph 6:20) St. Paul uses a verbal and not a noun form to express his position as an ambassador. See J. B. , Com. on Col. and Philemon3, 1879, in loc.; and cf. art. Ambassador.


AV Authorized Version.

RV Revised Version.

RVm Revised Version margin.

art. article.

Reid, J. (1916-1918). Aged. In J. Hastings (Ed.), Dictionary of the Church (2 Vols.) (J. Hastings, Ed.) (1:46). : Charles Scribner’s Sons.

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