Philemon by Vicki Gabler and Pastor Don Moore
In her Bible studies Vicki has been spending a long time studying Philemon and God has not let her move beyond this book. When she came to visit us from Florida Pastor Don asked her to teach on a Thursday Night Bible Study.
Philemon 1-3 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon was a friend of Paul. In that time rich landowners had slaves and anywhere from 1/5 to 1/3 of the total population of the Roman Empire were considered property. Paul did not consider himself a prisoner of the Romans, but rather a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
Philemon 4 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers,
Paul prayed for Philemon. We should pray and thank God for each other.
Philemon 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints,
They obeyed Jesus and showed love and faith toward God and toward each other.
Philemon 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
This is an effective sharing of faith and a good witness. Jesus put us into the Word to be a light to the world. Jesus is in us and we are His little lights.
Philemon 7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
This good word of what they are doing brought Paul and Timothy great joy and consolation, it refreshed their hearts. Their spirits bore witness one to another.
After this greeting and encouraging word, Paul speaks to Philemon regarding Onesimus. Onesimus was acting as Paul’s slave for the time being. He was bright and intelligent, but before he came to Paul he had run away from Philemon. A runaway slave was considered the lowest of the low in society, and was offered no protection in the law. He would receive severe punishment for running away. But when he ran away he met Paul and became a Christian.
The name “Onesimus” means profitable, useful.
Philemon 8-10 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ— I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains,
When Paul called Onesimus his son, he was speaking of his spiritual son.
Philemon 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.
Onesimus was profitable and helpful for Paul. He ministered to Paul and Paul liked him very much.
Philemon 12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart,
Paul is sending him back for he belonged to Philemon. Paul asked Philemon to receive him with the heart of Paul who loves him very much. Paul purposed in his own heart to intercede for Onesimus. Jesus intercedes for us. When we intercede for others we have a great prayer partner (Jesus). Paul was also exercising the ministry of reconciliation, imitating Jesus here. Jesus reconciles us to God, and we now carry the mercy of reconciliation. We are assigned as ministers of reconciliation to plead on the behalf of others.
Romans 5:10-11 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
We have received this by Jesus’ life, and rejoice in it.
Romans 5:10-11 AMP For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more [certain], now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin’s dominion) through His [resurrection] life. Not only so, but we also rejoice and exultingly glory in God [in His love and perfection] through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received and enjoy [our] reconciliation.
We are DAILY DELIVERED!
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
We are new creations. New Christians reconciled to the Lord, and we need to be reconciled Christian to Christian as well.
Philemon 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel.
Paul wanted to keep Onesimus with him to minister to Paul while he was in prison.
Philemon 14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.
But would not do it without Philemon’s consent. Paul wanted to do the right thing.
When Paul wrote to anyone He always had something good to say first. He gave honest complements, and then dealt with the difficult words of correction.
Philemon 15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever,
Maybe God arranged this according to his divine purpose.
Philemon 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
Paul wanted Philemon to receive Onesimus as a brother in Christ. Without this Onesimus could be punished, beaten, or killed. That does not mean that Philemon would be freed from slavery, but rather that he would be forgiven for his sin of running away. Philemon was a man of integrity and would show mercy, even when Onesimus did wrong.
Vicki shared a quote but I did not catch the author – mercy comes down from heaven to earth so that man may practice reconciliation.
Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
Imitate God and show mercy. Do not imitate evil, imitate God. Paul tactfully requested that Philemon make a decision based on Christ. What would Jesus do. Remember in verse 11 Paul told Philemon that they were fellow servants in Christ. Paul never requested abolition of slavery or urged slaves to rebel. He wanted Christians, slaves or free to be brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus social distinction was inclusive.
Ephesians 6:5-9 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
Colossians 3:22-25 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.
Colossians 4:1 Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.
With new life comes new behaviors, and the old behavior comes off. Mercy and forgiveness are put on. Vicki calls it CIA – Christianity InAction.
Christ Is Available to all. Christ Is All in all.
Colossians 3:9-11 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Galatians 3:28-29 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The first century Jews used to pray, “Thank God I’m not a Gentile, a slave or a woman.”
Onesimus’ life changed, and he needed to do the right thing and make restitution of the wrong that he did.
Philemon 17-18 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.
This is a picture of Jesus. If wronged, Jesus says, “Put it on my account.” We all owe a debt that we cannot pay. Jesus paid our debt, the debt that we can never repay Him for. Onesimus could not repay Philemon. Paul tells Philemon to follow him like he is following Christ.
Philemon 19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides.
Paul writing in his own hand made this promise legally binding. But Paul reminded Philemon that he lead Philemon to the Lord, and that is a major debt that Philemon should consider.
Philemon 20-21 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
If Philemon does what is right it will bring joy to Paul’s soul. Paul is saying, let’s see if I taught you right. Then he points out that he has confidence in Philemon that he will do the right thing.
Philemon 22-25 But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Lessons from Philemon to apply in our lives.
Onesimus was an unprofitable slave, but once he accepted Jesus, and became a brother in Christ, he became a profitable member of God’s family. We want to bear fruit for the Body of Christ. We were all slaves, slaves to sin. Now that we are forgiven we can be fruitful members for His Kingdom. We are no longer in the prison of the devil, but profitable and acceptable to the Lord and His Kingdom.
Tradition tells us that Onesimus became a bishop in Berea and dealt with people with tact and grace.
This book shows us how to deal with people like Jesus dealt with us. Our lives are changed when we come to Christ and that changes how we react to things. When we have a right relationship with God we seek to reconcile people to God and restore broken relationships.
PASTOR DON MOORE’S TEACHING.
Philemon 15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever,
Pastor Don said that all of us have circumstances and situations that are distasteful, depressing experiences. They seem like detours and obstacles. Where we are here has nothing to do with where we’re going. It may not be apparent where we are in the midst of thing. We may ask ourselves, “Why am I going through this? How is this a part of the process?” We may not understand the mundane ridiculous things in the moment, and not understand or appreciate what is going on in the moment. We may wish that things would change, but the hurtful things may be set there purposefully to grow us and reposition us to what God has for is. These things may be necessary to draw us back on track.
We may be fishing where we can’t catch fish. We can get out of position unless we get higher, change our attitude and see God’s perspective. We may not be seeing what we want to be, but from God’s perspective we may see where we are to be to catch fish.
If Paul’s life had not crossed Onesimus’ life, it could be a difficult situation for Onesimus. Onesimus would have been in a difficult situation because of his slavery. It was necessary for him to meet Paul and be restored to Philemon. All of this was part of God’s plan for his perfection.
God has a plan for our perfection. Where you are may be a necessary place for you to be to get you to the place where God has placed someone to help you get back on course.
Praying this blesses you.
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