“Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The book of Philemon is about forgiveness and repentance. It is actually a letter from Paul to a wealthy Christian (Philemon) concerning a man Paul met in Rome. This man, Onesimus, was a runaway slave of Philemon’s. And Paul was writing to let Philemon know that Onesimus had become a Christian as well. Paul urged Philemon to forgive Onesimus, take him back and treat him like a brother. Paul offered several reasons to restore Onesimus, including repayment for whatever he had taken. Paul had Onesimus hand-deliver the letter, which was a leap of faith and a sign of repentance.
Though Paul does not condemn slavery directly, he combats it in a different way. He tells Philemon to treat Onesimus as a brother, which would exalt the slave’s status to an equal, thus ending his slavery. There are many ways to combat injustice – War, lobbying, exposing, and so on; but Jesus gave a new way, a way that works. It is by changing the heart of the offender.
As you read the passages this week, think through your own process of forgiveness and restoration.
- Introduction (1-3)
- Thankful for Philemon’s ministry (4-7)
- Intercession for Philemon’s slave, Onesimus (8-22)
- Greeting some friends (23-25)
Use the HEAR method as you spend time with today’s scripture.
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?