While imprisoned in Rome Paul wrote a letter to a believer named Philemon. Said to have been written around 60 A.D. this epistle calls on Philemon and all Christians to forgive and be courteous to one another just as we would the Lord.
“1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, 2 to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home.” (Philemon 1:1-2)
A member of the Colossian church, it is believed Philemon was the husband of Apphia and father of Archippus, a fellow disciple of Jesus Christ. Philemon was the leader of a home based church and a man blessed with wealth that would dictate he owned many slaves, one of which was named Onesimus, the object of this letter.
“3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.” (Philemon 1:3-5)
Here Paul addresses Philemon’s obvious love for the saints in Colosse, a city in the Roman province of Asia Minor, and his faith in Jesus Christ.
“6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” (Philemon 1:6-7)
The apostle then invites Philemon to continue advancing the gospel as he now reaches the subject of the letter, the slave named Onesimus, a common Greek name for slaves meaning “profitable”.
“8 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains.” (Philemon 1:8-10)
Paul methodically reveals he has no intention to force his will upon Philemon about Onesimus instead, the apostle paints a picture conducive to forgiveness as he calls on his readers to focus on the big picture which is service to the Lord.
“11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced.” (Philemon 1:11-14)
By “useless” Paul indicates the slave had become unprofitable to Philemon by deserting his master and possibly stealing from him. Then the apostle shares the good news, that Onesimus had crossed over from darkness to light and repented of his sins as he accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and savior through Paul while in Rome.
“15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.” (Philemon 1:15-16)
It is clear Onesimus had become close to Paul and was helping him in Rome. Here Paul explains Onesimus’ escape might have been part of God’s perfect plan so that the slave who served one master was now a brother who served many through faith in Jesus Christ.
“17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self.” (Philemon 1:17-19)
A message for all of us to abide by, Paul calls on Philemon to clear Onesimus’ debt, reminding him of his own debt, that which is likely to never be repaid.
“20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.” (Philemon 1:20-21)
Certain that Philemon will be receptive to his plea for forgiveness and courtesy Paul shows thankfullness to the slave master and church leader for renewal of his own faith and rewards in heaven.
“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 1:22)
Paul felt he was near the end of his sentence when prompting Philemon to prepare a room for him in Colosse.
The apostle then conveys salutations from other laborers in Christ as he concludes his letter to Philemon.
“23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” (Philemon 1:23-25)
The point of this epistle is clear, that we are to trust in the Lord in spite of circumstances and that we are to forgive those who trespass us as we have been forgiven by God.
Also we are to settle debts with fellow Christians with love and confidence as our own debt has been settled by Jesus Christ remembering the only debt that can never be repaid is the gift of life. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Paul,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre