Heavenly Father, we acknowledged that You are Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Rohi, Jehovah Jireh, and Jehovah Nissi. We confessed our sins before You and pray for forgiveness. We pray for You Word to minster to us and enlighten us, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Philemon: 23-25, Final greetings
VV 23-25, 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers. 25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Paul had a personal touch. He acknowledged all his co-workers by name. He sent greetings to Philemon from Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, his co-workers in the gospel. Epaphras was also a prisoner with him in the Roman prison.
He pronounced the grace of Christ to Philemon.
According to Christian traditions, Onesimus was freed from slavery and went on to become a bishop of Ephesus. He was arrested, tortured, and beaten to death by the Romans for preaching the gospel. Onesimus was a real person, transformed, and freed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He suffered tremendous persecutions and eventually martyred for his faith in Christ. The epistle of Philemon is a good illustration of Romans 8:28 at work in the life of Onesimus. He was a slave. He committed a capital offence by running away from his master. Though God’s providence, he ran to Rome and met the great apostle Paul. Paul saved his soul, gave him a new life, new faith, new hope, and new beginning. Reconciled to his old master Philemon and freed from slavery, he served his new master Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”.
The epistle of Philemon taught us that all things worked together for good to Christians. No matter what circumstances we may be facing today it will eventually worked for good in our favour. We may not see it immediately but we will see it in the future. This is a promise that we can claim when we go through difficult times especially now when situations are so unprecedented.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the epistle of Philemon. Thank You for the promise of Romans 8:28. Thank You for for the forgiveness of sins, salvation by grace, justification by faith in Christ, sanctification, and the gift of eternal life. We pray for those who have run away from You to return back to You and be useful to You in the kingdom again, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Heavenly Father, we acknowledged that Your are El Ellyon, El Olam, El Roi, ams El Sheddai. We confessed that we are sinners. We pray for the forgiveness of sins, in Jesus name, Amen.
Philemon: 17-22, charge everything into my account
VV 17-19, 17 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay, not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides.
Paul told Philemon to charge to his account all the criminal offences that Onesimus committed by running away from him unlawfully. Paul highlighted that he wrote this epistle himself. Paul reminded Philemon that he owed him his life because he saved his soul through evangelism. Paul took full responsibility for Onesimus’ debt to Philemon to procure his forgiveness and freedom from Philemon.
VV 20-22, 20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. 21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.
Paul drew spiritual strength by being joyful in the Lord. Paul appealed to Philemon to refresh his heart by forgiving and free Onesimus. Paul was confident that Philemon would agree to forgive and free Onesimus. He requested Philemon to prepare a guest room for him so that he could visit him upon release from the prison. Paul requested Philemon to pray for his release from prison.
We are all sinners before a Holy God. We owed a debt of sin to God that we could never repay. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty of sin on our behalf to procure our freedom from sin. Jesus appealed to His Father to charge our debt of sin to His account. 2000 years ago, He paid our sin debt by dying on the cross to pay our penalty of sin for us.
Romans 6: 23, “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord’’.
2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”.
The epistle of Philemon is a story of forgiveness. According to Catholic tradition, Onesimus was freed from slavery, and became a bishop of Ephesus. Just as Philemon forgave Onesimus, Christ also forgave us. Even though we ran away from Christ, He restored us to fellowship when we came back to him in repentance. Our master, Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love, mercy, grace, loving kindness, and faithfulness to us. Thank You for justification, sanctification, salvation, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Heavenly Father, we commit this time to You and pray for You to speak to each one of us according to our unique circumstances. We pray for opened ears, opened eyes, hungry hearts, and obedient spirits, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Philemon: 8-16, Paul appealed for Onesimus
VV 8-10, 8 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you, being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ, 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains,
Paul considered himself an elderly prisoner of Jesus Christ. Although Paul had the apostolic authority to command Philemon to free Onesimus, yet for love’s sake he preferred to appeal to Philemon instead. Paul considered Onesimus as his spiritual son in the faith. Paul met Onesimus in the Roman prison, evangelized, converted, discipled, mentored, and adopted him as his spiritual godson in the faith.
VV 11-13, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. 12 I am sending him back. You, therefore, receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel.
Onesimus is a Greek name that means useful. Here is a wordplay. Greek for unprofitable is “achreston” which means useless. Greek for profitable is “euchreston” which means useful. Onesimus was once useless to Philemon but now he was useful to him. He was transformed, regenerated, born-again, undergone spiritual transformation, or spiritual heart transplant if you like. Paul was sending Onesimus back to his master Philemon. He appealed to Philemon to extend his right hand of fellowship to Onesimus just as he would to Paul.
VV 14-16, 14 But without your consent, I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary. 15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him 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.
Although Paul wanted to retain Onesimus as his helper in Rome, he would not do this without Philemon’s consent. Paul appealed to Philemon to receive Onesimus back into his household not as a slave but as a brother in Christ. Paul appealed to Philemon to free Onesimus from slavery. In those days, the punishment for a runaway slave when caught was the death penalty. Paul took a risk when he sent Onesimus back to Philemon. If Philemon did not agree to Paul’s appeal, he could have sentenced Onesimus to death.
Onesimus ran away from his master and Paul had to send him back. Perhaps we may be running away from our master Jesus Christ by not walking with Him. We need to come back to Christ in obedience, in surrender, in faith and be useful to Him again. We can claim the promise of 1 John 1:9, “if you confess your sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness”.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the promise of 1 John 1:9. We acknowledged that You are Almighty God and we are sinners saved by Your grace. Please enable us to return to You and be useful to You in the kingdom, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Heavenly Father, we pray for wisdom, knowledge, mercy, and grace. We pray for attentiveness and mindfulness. We pray for divine insight to understand scripture. We pray for obedience and faithfulness, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Philemon: 4-7, Prayer for Philemon
V 4, I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers,
Paul prayed consistently, fervently, and persistently to God for Philemon mentioning him by name. Paul was a prayer warrior. He wrestled with the Lord in prayer every day. He remembered all his friends by name and interceded for them according to their needs. Even though Philemon was so far away, he still took the time to pray for him.
VV 5-6, 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
Paul was very encouraged to hear of Philemon’s love for the Lord and the saints, his faithful and effective evangelistic ministry in Collosae. Greek for saint is “hagios”, which means holy, sanctified, or separated for God. As Christians, we are saints, because we are holy, sanctified, and separated to serve God. We are a holy people and a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9.
1 Peter 2:9, “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”.
V 7, For we have great joy and consolation in your love because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
Paul rejoiced when he remembered Philemon. He was refreshed when he remembered the times that he spent with Philemon in Ephesus. Greek for refreshed is “anapsucho”, which means relief. Even though Paul was under house arrest, he found joy, encouragement, comfort, and relief by Philemon’s love and faithfulness.
Paul was a great prayer warrior. Even though in chains, he spent times interceding for everyone. We are to emulate Paul to be a prayer warrior. We are to pray for all our immediate family members, relatives, friends, colleagues, church members, acquaintances, etc. mentioning them by name and interceding for them at a personal level.
Heavenly Father, thank You for speaking to us. We pray for the transformation of hearts and the renewal of minds. We give You permission to do spiritual heart transplants in us. We pray for renewed perspectives and a balanced worldview, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Heavenly Father, we come before You on bended knees. We pray for wisdom and understand to unlock the truth of Your eternal Word. We pray that You will speak to us through the inerrant, infallible, and inspired Words of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Philemon: 1-3, opening salutation and greeting
VV 1-3, 1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, 2 to the beloved Apphia, 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.
Paul, the author of Philemon, considered himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ, not Rome, not Caesar, and not Nero. Paul included and acknowledged Timothy, his spiritual god-son in his opening salutation and greeting. Paul was a prisoner of Jesus Christ because he was imprisoned according to God’s will and sanctioned by Jesus Christ his Lord and Master. Paul sent greetings to Philemon, his beloved friend, a co-worker in the gospel, and founder of the Colossians house church. Scholars believed that Apphia was Philemon’s wife and Archippus was Philemon’s son and pastor of the Colossians house church. Greek for grace is “charis”, which means getting what we do not deserve to get. Hebrews for peace is “shalom”, which means welfare and tranquility. Paul pronounced grace and peace from God, the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace always precedes peace. When we are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we have peace with God, peace from God, and peace of God. The source of grace and peace is God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
1 Corinthians 4:17, “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’’.
Romans 5:1-2, “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”
Philippians 4:6-7, 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.
When we are justified by grace through faith in Christ, we are reconciled to God. We are no longer in enmity with God and God’s wrath is removed. We can come before God the Father in His throne room of God in heaven with boldness and confidence. We experience peace within us that transcends all understanding, we have access to God and the promise of the glorious heaven in the future.
Heavenly Father, thank You for justification, sanctification, salvation, eternal life, the promise of heaven, and resurrection in Your second coming. Thank You for giving us the peace that transcends all understandings, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Heavenly Father, we acknowledged that You are the only true God, the Trinitarian God of the Holy Bible, the God of creation, redemption, reconciliation, and salvation. We thank You for all that You have done for us in our lives, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Philemon is one of the four prison epistles written during his first imprisonment in Rome between AD 60-62. The other three are Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Paul was under house arrest in Rome while awaiting trial under Caesar Nero. Although he was allowed to live by himself in a house, he was chained to a Roman Pretorian guard 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who rotated through shift duties. Epaphras visited Paul and brought him a financial love gift from the Colossian church. Paul sent the epistle of Colossians and Philemon back to the house church in Colossae through Epaphras.
Colossae was an ancient Roman province along the Lycus River valley in Asia Minor, now in western Turkey. In its heyday, Colossae was famous for the manufacturing of a dark red wool cloth called colossinum.
Purpose and historical setting:
Thie epistle of Philemon was Paul’s letter to Philemon, a wealthy leader of the Colossian house church. Paul shared the gospel with Philemon when he was in Ephesus, converted, discipled, and mentored him in the faith. Philemon returned to Colossae and planted the Colossian house church. Onesimus was one of Philemon’s slaves who ran away from his master and secretly found his way to Rome. Through providence at work, Onesimus met the apostle Paul in Rome who shared the gospel with him, converted, discipled, and mentored him in the faith. When Paul realized that Philemon was a runaway slave of Philemon, he sent Onesimus back to Philemon with a personal letter. Paul entrusted Tychicus to accompany Onesimus to his master Philemon with this personal epistle called Philemon, Colossians 4:7-9.
Acts 28:16, “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”.
Colossians 4:7-9, “Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here’’.
Onesimus was a runaway slave. Onesimus had committed a very serious offense. In first-century Israel, the consequence of a slave running away from a master was capital punishment. Onesimus confessed his situation to Paul who sent him back to his master. Before we came to know Christ, we too had run away from our Lord and Master but when we confessed our sins, believed, and returned to Christ, He forgave us and gave us eternal life.
Heavenly Father, thank You for this small book of Philemon. We pray that You will speak to us through the pages of Your inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word, in Jesus’ name, Amen.