Apr 7, 2015

In PHILEMON - He is our Friend

Philemon 1-25:
Mending Fractured Relationships

·       In Philemon, Jesus is our Friend!

Dave and Andy enjoyed a prosperous business partnership for several years. Their families became closest friends, sharing vacations made possible by their growing computer business. Then one day Andy disappeared, along with the company bank account. Dave lost his friend, his business and his home. Three years later Andy returned, having squandered the money but having found Christ. Could Dave forgive him? Could they ever be friends again?
In Paul's letter to Philemon, you'll find principles for bringing reconciliation between two Christians who know the pain of wronging another and being wronged.
·         Paul wrote (from prison...just before he was released) his letter to Philemon at the same time he wrote his apostle letter to the Colossians (64 AD). 
·         Purpose for writing:
- To ask Philemon to be merciful and gracious to Onesimus
-To promise to pay any debt that Onesimus might owe him
-To ask Philemon to be preparing a place for Paul to stay upon his imminent release from jail

·         At this time in Roman history,  slavery was common and it has been estimated that 60 million people were enslaved across the Roman world at this time.  Slavery is one of the most terrible things that one human being can do to another.    When I worked in Sudan, it was common to hear and see people who enslaved other people to do their work.  From time to time even today we hear stories about human- trafficking in other people, often for sexual purposes.
·         It appears inconsistent that Philemon a christian man would have a slave.
·         The letter was to Philemon, who lived in Colosse.  This letter was written at the same time that Paul wrote the Colossian epistle.  When he wrote the letter to Colossians,  Paul mentioned that he would be sending the letter to Tychicus and that also Onesimus would be coming with Tychicus and the Colossian letter.
·         The letter to Philemon involves this man Onesimus, for he was at one time a slave of Philemon. Evidently Onisemous had stolen some money from his master and Paul was returning him.  Onesimus  had met Paul and became a Christian.  Under Roman law, Philemon had the right to brand a returned slave and even kill him. Usually, if death didn't occur, the runaway slave would have an "F"  for fugitivo (fugitive) branded onto his forehead, marking him as a slave. 
·         Paul is interceding to Philemon for this slave.  He wanted Philemon to no longer serve him as a slave, but as a brother in Christ.  As a spiritual father to Philemon and an elder in the church, Paul could have ordered Philemon in this matter, but because of love he chose to make a request.
·         Paul applies what he wrote in Colossians:  "Here there is no Greek or Jew ....slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all"  (Col. 3:11).  Philemon and Onesimus are given the chance to participate in a revolutionary new process for reconciliation.
New International Version
1Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:
3Grace and peace to youa from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
4I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
Paul’s Plea for Onesimus
8Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,b who became my son while I was in chains. 11Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
12I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13I 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. 14But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16no 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 fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.
17So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
22And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.
23Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.
25The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

No comments:

Post a Comment