In The Word
Read: Philemon 1:1-25
1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, 2 and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon’s Love and Faith
4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; 6 and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake. 7 For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.
8 Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper,9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—
Plea for Onesimus, a Free Man
10 I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, 11 who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. 12 I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. 15 For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17 If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well). 20 Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.
21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.
22 At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.
25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Walking In The Word
This letter is written to Philemon from the apostle Paul to handle a delicate situation involving a runaway servant named Onesimus. We know from this letter that Onesimus was a useless worker to Philemon. He was not a Christian and did not have the work ethics of someone working unto the Lord. Onesimus was not happy there, so he ran away and probably thought he would never have to work for Philemon again. However, Onesimus didn’t know he would be running right into a relationship that would change his life. Paul led Onesimus to the Lord. This changed Onesimus forever. He went from being useless to being useful. Paul knew for Onesimus to find his true meaning in life he needed to make things right with Philemon, now a fellow brother in the Lord. Paul would help Onesimus make things right by being a reconciler between the two men. He sent this letter to instruct and encourage Philemon to do what was right too. Paul asked Philemon to forgive and receive Onesimus back into his life as a brother in the Lord.
This letter also teaches us that sometimes people may start out in our lives as useless and maybe even a headache to us. However, if we can point them to Christ and they decide to give their lives to the Lord, they can change and become a big blessing. Be ready for someone that has not been useful to you to be brought back into your life to be led to Jesus. Remember: we have a ministry of reconciliation.