Philemon has always been one of my absolute favorite books, so when I saw that it was on my list for today I was really excited!
The letter is written by Paul to a man named Philemon regarding a mutual acquaintance- Onesimus. Onesimus was a slave who had run away from Philemon’s household and it’s even implied that he stole from his master. By the grace of God he met Paul and as a result became a Christian. Now, Paul has encouraged him to return to his master, and in turn encourages Philemon to accept him as a brother in Christ.
It’s a fantastic picture of God’s sovereignty at work. Because what are the odds that Onesimus runs away from his master and ends up not only accepting Christ but does so under the influence of Philemon’s friend? Only God.
One big thing I see here is that even though Onesimus has been forgiven by Christ, he still has to face the consequences of his sins. Paul says in verse 13 that he really wanted to keep Onesimus with him, that he had been doing good and profitable work- but that wasn’t right. He had to return to his master and restore that broken relationship. As believers we are constantly commanded to make things right with those we have wronged and Paul is demanding no less from Onesimus.
The other side of this is Philemon himself. Under Roman law he has every right to have Onesimus executed, and Paul pleads with him to offer forgiveness. He encourages Philemon to consider him a brother in Christ and to see how useful he has been and will continue to be to his master.
He reminds him repeatedly that as an apostle, Paul could demand obedience and is choosing instead to ask. He even offers to cover an debts the slave may owe himself!
Both sides of this are a good example of what we are to do as a member of the body of Christ:
1. When we sin against another, make it right.
2. Forgive just as Christ forgave us- unconditionally.
Tomorrow I will finally tackle Psalms! I’ve been planning and prepping all week so that I can keep the day clear to get this book completed. Hopefully it goes well!