A Brick in the Valley

ESV vs NIV in Philemon 22
August 13, 2007, 2:21 pm
Filed under: ESV

I have been disappointed with the NIV while preaching through Philemon.  An example would be the translation of χαρίζομαι / charizōmai in verse 22:

And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers (Philemon 22, NIV).”

At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you (Philemon 22, ESV).”

The NIV misses the subtlety of Paul’s argument.  This is not a miscellaneous tidbit about Paul’s hopes to visit Colossae.  Paul’s overall purpose in Philemon is to challenge Philemon to show Onesimus the same grace that has been given to him (cf. Ephesians 4:32, which also uses χαρίζομαι / charizōmai).

Previously, Paul challenged Philemon to be gracious by reminding them of what they have been given (“to say nothing of you owing me your very self”).  Now, in verse 22 he reinforces the point by alluding to the fact that even Philemon’s prayer that Paul might visit is a plea for grace. 

Paul ties a ribbon on this appeal to grace with how he ends the letter: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”


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