bible study devotion

Grace and Peace: devotion

Dr. Andrew C S Koh

a mocked-up image
mocked-up image


Paul wrote 4 prison epistles during his first Roman imprisonment between AD 60-62, Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon. Nero arrested Paul and put him under house arrest in Rome where he awaited trial. He lived in a house chained to a Roman Pretorian guard 24 hours a day. Epaphras visited Paul with a love gift from the Collosian church. 

Philemon was a wealthy man from Colossae whom Paul converted and mentored in Ephesus. He (Philemon) returned to Colossae and planted the Colossian house church. Onesimus was one of Philemon’s slaves who ran away and escaped to Rome. There, Onesimus met Paul who converted and mentored him. Tychicus accompanied Onesimus to Philemon with this personal letter from Paul, Colossians 4:7-9. Ancient Colossae was a Roman province along the Lycus River valley in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey.

Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him

Acts 28:16

 Philemon: 1-9.

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon, our beloved fellow worker, to the beloved Apphia, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the assembly in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers,hearing of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints, that the fellowship of your faith may become effective in the knowledge of every good thing which is in us in Christ Jesus. For we have much joy and comfort in your love because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.Therefore though I have all boldness in Christ to command you that which is appropriate, yet for love’s sake I rather beg, being such a one as Paul, the aged, but also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. 



Paul mentioned his spiritual godson, Timothy, as his co-worker, in his opening salutation. Paul considered himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ and not Nero. Paul had great insight. He new that it was Jesus Christ and not Nero who put him in prison.  Nero had no power to incarcerate and imprison Paul unless Jesus Christ sanctioned it.

Paul greeted Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus, his co-workers in the gospel. Scholars believed that Apphia was Philemon’s wife and Archippus was Philemon’s son, who was also a pastor of the Colossian house church. The Greek word for grace is “charis”, which means getting what we do not deserve to get. The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom”, which means tranquility. Paul combined the Greek greeting of grace with the Hebrew greeting of peace. Grace and peace come to us from God, the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace precedes peace. Justification and forgiveness of sin result in triple peace, peace with God, peace from God, and peace of God, Philippians 4:6-7, Romans 5:1-2. Paul was a prayer warrior. He wrestled with God in prayer every day, remembering all his friends, and co-workers, by name, and interceding for them. Paul took the time to pray specifically for Philemon.

Paul was encouraged by Philemon’s love for the Lord, love for the saints, and love for the Gospel. The Greek word for saint is “hagios”, which means holy or separated. Christians are saints because they are holy and separated to serve God. Christians are holy people and a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9.

Paul was refreshed when he remembered the time he spent with Philemon in Ephesus. The Greek word for refreshed is “anapsucho”, which means relief. Paul found joy, encouragement, comfort, and relief in Philemon’s love and faithfulness.

Paul was old by now. Although he had the apostolic authority to command Philemon to free Onesimus, he preferred to be diplomatic.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light

1 Peter 2:9

For this reason, I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church

1 Corinthians 4:17

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light

1 Peter 2:9

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus

Philippians 4:6-7

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God

Romans 5:1-2


Paul was a prayer warrior. Even though in chains, he spent time interceding for everyone. Are you a prayer warrior? Do you pray for all your family, relatives, friends, colleagues, church members, acquaintances, and co-workers, mentioning them by name and interceding for them at a personal level?

Paul rejoiced even though he was in chains. Paul thought about others even though he was incarcerated. He was Christ-centered, and others-centered but never self-centered. Are you Christ-centered, others-centered or self-centered?

Have you experienced the peace from God that transcends all understanding? Have you experienced the triple peace, peace from God, Peace with God, and the peace of God? 


Heavenly Father, help us to rejoice even when things are not going smoothly in our lives. Help us to be Christ-centered, and others-centered but never be self-centered. Help us to be prayer warriors. Help us to take the time to intercede for our family, friends, and co-workers by name, in Jesus’ name, Amen.