Philemon

Study of God’s Word (walk through the Bible) – Philemon

In the letter to Philemon, Paul and Timothy write a brief letter to this Christian brother who lived in Colosse.  It is also addressed to Apphia who was probably the wife of Philemon, and Archippus who was probably his son.  This is different than most of the letters Paul wrote, but makes sense given the topic of the letter which was an appeal to Philemon regarding a runaway slave who has met Jesus and found refuge with Paul.  In the custom of that day, Philemon’s wife Apphia would have been in charge of supervision of the slaves of the household, so the content would concern her as well.

Philemon was a church leader at Colosse as the church must have met in his home.  Paul addressed that group as well through the letter when he writes “and the church in your house”.  Paul begins with a prayer for Philemon and his family.  “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ”.  Paul continually demonstrates the importance and power of prayer.

Paul prayed for Philemon, desiring that the sharing of his faith would become effective as Philemon understood the work God did in him.  God does the work in us and then through us for His Kingdom.  This is the foundation for all effective evangelism: the impact of a life touched and changed by God. God had done every good thing in the life of Philemon. Now, it was a matter of it being acknowledged by both Philemon and those he shared his faith with. When these good things are understood, others come to Jesus.  That is exactly what God wants to see happen in every Christ Follower.  We allow God to work in us and change us, and then allow Him to work through us to impact others.  It is what sharing our faith is all about.  Not what we are or do, but who God is in us and through us.

Paul then intercedes for Onesimus, a slave from Philemon’s house.  He had escaped from his master Philemon and fled to Rome where he met with Paul.  Now after Onesimus has been with Paul and served him well, Paul is sending him back to his master pleading for consideration of who Onesimus had become – a Christ Follower under Paul’s influence.  Paul offers “If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account”.  Paul not only intercedes through a request, but is willing to settle the account if there is anything owed.  That’s the power of true intercession.  That’s a picture of true love.

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