Nov 4 — Philemon

Philemon — The Case of Onesimus

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One Reply to “Nov 4 — Philemon”

  1. Philemon is one of my favorite books in the Bible…no, not because it’s short!! Here, Paul is appealing to the master of a slave that’s committed a crime, but since become a Christian. Onesimus, Philemon’s slave, apparently recognized his new-found faith required obedience. Therefore, he had to return to his master and accept the consequences, whatever they may be. This is the worthy response.

    Paul knows this is a dreadful undertaking and passionately wants to change the certain outcome, the sentence of death, by appealing to Philemon, a relatively new Christian himself! To begin with, Paul acknowledges Philemon’s sincere commitment to promoting Christ by holding church meetings in his home (Philemon v2) and asserts, “your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people” (v7). Given this introduction, Paul refers to Onesimus as “my son” in verse 10, and makes his appeal. Paul then adds “I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me” (v13). What?!? Philemon must certainly be a true convert to have receive such a statement. Should the master accept his criminal slave might be worthy to take his place beside Paul? This can only be possible by the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Is there some precedent for a master forgiving a runaway slave? Much less being considered equal, “both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord” (v16). I think not–quite the contrary. This is an amazing story of great grace, one we should not miss just because it is brief.

    Just to be sure Philemon is listening, Paul adds “one thing more: prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restore to you in answer to your prayers” (v22). In other words, Philemon, be wise in considering Paul’s request…he’s coming to town.

    Lord help me to be one who understands what it means to forgive completely. Help me to appreciate that you have actually forgive me for my sins and that you stand there with arms open wide to all who would simply turn and repent.

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