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Martin J. Godeberht Martin J. Godeberht is offline
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Default Day 347: Philemon - 12-04-2016, 10:15 PM

Paul and Timothy write to Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus, and everyone at church there (Philemon 1:1-4). I think Timothy helped edit this letter because it's uncharacteristically succinct. But I digress.

5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;

Paul is grateful to God every time he hears Philemon’s name, and prays others see the work of Christ in their good deeds (Philemon 1:6-7). Some people might consider this kissing Philemon’s ass in anticipation for the request coming up, but Paul doesn’t need to kiss anyone’s ass. He’s got Jesus on his side. Christians are just nice people in general, even though we don’t have to be.

10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:

Paul “birthed” a new baby Christian, Onesimus, while in prison. But as Onesimus was Philemon’s runaway slave, Paul is sending him back, one Christian to another (Philemon 1:11-15).

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?

Lots of speculation about what this means. Did Paul send Onesimus back with the idea that Philemon should free him, or is Paul speaking of a change of attitude rather than a change of social relationship so that Onesimus will resume his position as a household slave as before his conversion, albeit now saved? The bible doesn’t say and so we shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about it. We have what we need to avoid eternal damnation (2 Timothy 3:16; Titus 3:9).

In any case, Paul is sending Onesimus back as a Christian and hopes Philemon will treat him accordingly (which we know doesn’t have anything to do with freeing slaves). If Philemon incurred any expenses because of Onesimus’ running away, Paul will pay just like Christ paid his debts for sin (Philemon 1:17-20).

21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.

Paul’s pretty sure Philemon will do the right thing. With regard to freeing Onesimus, the bible doesn’t say what the right thing is. That’s not the important message here. Remember, Paul tells us Jesus is coming any day (1 Thessalonians 4:15), so what if you’re a slave for another week or not? In the long run, no one cares. So be a good Christian now.

Lastly, Paul tells Philemon everyone in prison says hi (Philemon 1:22-25).
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