Key theme: LOVE JESUS, LOVE HIS FAMILY
Paul writes to Philemon, the owner of Onesimus, a slave who left his master’s service for reasons that are never disclosed in this short letter. Having provided support to Paul in prison, Onesimus is sent back to Colossae bearing this letter and with no certainty of how he will be received by the master he left. Paul instructs Philemon that his response to Onesimus should be based on their respective standings before Christ, rather than their relationship as slave and master.
As you read…
- Slaves and free men Paul, a free man, considers himself to be a prisoner (and slave [Romans 1:1]) for Christ. Onesimus, a slave, is considered a son and brother in Christ by Paul. Philemon, a slave-owner, owes his life to Paul’s preaching of the Gospel.
How does the Gospel influence your response to those the world might consider to be in a more lowly or a more elevated position than you?
- Faith in Jesus is demonstrated by love for the saints Notice how Paul commends Philemon in his opening prayer. Notice also the number of times Paul uses words designed to foster and encourage community (brother, sister, friend, partner, son) – community that is first established through Christ.
How well do you verbally encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ?
How might you better demonstrate your “love for the saints”?