Greetings from the Ukraine! In Philemon 1:6, Paul and Timothy ask Philemon to be "active in sharing his faith." That's the scripture that we use to teach others about our mission in the world. Yet, in the Russian translations (especially the Modern Translation) we have a different connotation of the scripture. There it talks about the fact that "sharing your faith actively" (it nearly says "with other Christians") is designed to benefit you spiritually. Thus, "sharing your faith" here means openness with disciples and deep spiritual relationships with them. What do you know about what Paul and Timothy really meant by this verse? -- Vasyl

You are quite right. Apart from the NIV, virtually no translation takes verse 6 as a passage on evangelism. It does not fit the passage, the context, or the Greek. There are plenty of verses on evangelism in the New Testament, and I am sure you know a load of them! But we should avoid making passages say what they do not say.

Many Bible readers limit themselves by reading only one translation. The word translated "sharing" or fellowship is the Greek koinonia, a term usually associated with life in the church family. My Russian Bible reads obsheniye (did I get that right?), which is the literal translation of koinonia, while the Ukrainian slisnist (did I butcher it?) presumably means exactly the same. In the specific passage, Paul is encouraging Philemon to deepen his fellowship--as he has done in the past--and to transform the fellowship of the local church by granting the slave Onesimus his freedom.

Finally, let's consider how some of the other English versions translated Philemon 6. NAS: and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake.
RSV: and I pray that the sharing of your faith may promote the knowledge of all the good that is ours in Christ.
NJB: I pray that your fellowship in faith may come to expression in full knowledge of all the good we can do for Christ.

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