The Post Card Paul Wrote To Philemon
We are instructed to be an example to everyone around us, and it is most important to make this practice a part of our lives if we want to fit into God’s eternal plan. In fact, being an example is one of the five crowns – (Rewards) given to the resurrected church:
I Peter 5:3: ….but being ensamples to the flock.
I Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
In a Christ-like way, the apostle Paul, was an example to Philemon, one of his fellow workers, Onesimus, a new convert who had been a deserter, thief, and a worthless slave, as well as to us, his readers.
The Epistle of Paul to Philemon
1 ¶ Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,
2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:
3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,
5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;
6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.
8 ¶ Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient,
9 Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:
11 Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:
12 Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:
13 Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:
14 But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.
15 For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever;
16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?
17 If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.
18 If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;
19 I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.
20 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.
21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.
22 But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.
23 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus;
24 Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.
25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
I. The Background of Philemon
A. A slave named Onesimus
1. Robbed or in some other way wronged his master Philemon.
2. He then escaped from Colosse to Rome
3. Somehow he came in contact with Paul
a. Probably he went to Paul asking for help
b. He undoubtedly heard Philemon speak of Paul
B. Paul had lead him to Christ – (verse 10)
1. Both knew Onesimus had to face Philemon.
2. That happened when Paul wrote the Book of Colossians
a. Tychicus delivered the epistle to Colosse for Paul
b. Paul sent Onesimus with Tychicus – (Colossians 4:7-9) (Philemon 12)
c. Paul knew it would be safer to send a deserter (because of slave catchers) with a friend.
d. According to Roman law, a run-away slave could be punished harshly or even face a violent death.
C. This is one of the prison Epistles Paul wrote from his first prison experience in Rome. (The others are Ephesians, Colossians, & Philippians)
1. It was written between 60 and 61 AD
2. Sent at the same time as Colossians
D. Philemon was a resident of Colosse – (Colossians 4:9, 17, 1-2)
1. He was a convert of Paul – (Verse 19)
2. His house was evidently the meeting place for their group – (Verse 2)
3. He demonstrated love to the group – (Verse 5-7)
4. His son, Archippus, was a leader – (Verse Colossians 4:17; Philemon 2)
II. Paul’s Thankful for The love shown by Philemon – (Verses 1-7)
A. Paul writes the letter as a prisoner of Jesus Christ
B. Paul addresses it personally to:
1. Philemon – A leader of the “church in thy house” in Colosse.
2. Appia – Evidently Philemon’s wife
3. Archippus – Philemon’s son
4. As well as to the congregation
C. Paul begins with a prayer of thanksgiving for Philemon’s faith and love.
III. Paul’s Intercession on behalf of Onesimus – (Verses 8-17)
A. Paul based his appeal on Philemon’s character
B. Paul does not command Philemon to pardon and accept back Onesimus
C. Paul tries to persuade his friend of his responsibility to forgive even as Christ forgave him.
D. Paul asks Philemon not to punish Onesimus
E. But to receive him
1. “Not now as a servant
2. But “As a brother beloved”
IV. Paul’s Promise to Philemon – (Verses 17-25)
A. Paul puts Onesimus’s debt on his own account
B. Paul reminds Philemon of the greater debt Philemon owes to Christ
C. Paul closes with faith, (remember he was in prison), asking them to keep a room reserved for him when he is released.
V. How Was Paul A Christ-like Example? – Christ is portrayed in a Great Analogy
A. Onesimus’s Act in the Analogy
1. Onesimus was guilty of a great offense – (Verses 11 and 18)
2. Onesimus is motivated by Paul’s love to intercede on his behalf – (Verses 10-17)
B. Paul’s Act in the Analogy
1. Paul lays aside his rights – (Verse 8)
2. Paul becomes Onesimus’s substitute by assuming his debt. – (Verses 18-19)
C. Philemon’s Act In the Analogy
1. Philemon’s gracious act restores Onesimus – (Verse 15)
2. Philemon’s act restored Onesimus to a new relationship – (Verse 16)
D. How About Us Today?
1. We are like Onesimus
2. Paul’s work on behalf of Onesimus is parallel to Christ’s work of mediation before the Father
3. We still have this postcard
Onesimus was condemned by Law, but saved by Grace – so are we.