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Philemon 1:1-25

Slaves of Christ Living Free From Sin 

and Loving God and Each Other

Writer- Paul and Timothy

Letter written to Philemon, and was to be read to the church in Philemon’s home.

Probably written about AD 62 around the same time Paul wrote Colossians and Ephesians. 

     All three letters were sent with Tychicus and Onesimus when Paul was imprisoned in Rome (Acts 27).

Theme- Power of the Gospel transforms lives. Philemon was not useful, but now he is in Christ.  He was a rich slave owner and now he is a beloved brother.

     Philemon lived in Colossae.  He lived about 100 miles from Ephesus.  He heard the Gospel and was saved.  

Onesimus, one of Philemon’s slaves, had fled to Rome to hide and try to be undetected by the high population of people.  He fled having stolen something.  By God's sovereign hand, he was found. Onesimus came into contact with Paul and was saved. Once he was saved, he helped Paul a lot while Paul was in jail.

Paul writes this letter to try to restore the relationship with the runaway and Philemon. Paul urges Philemon to take Onesimus back, not as a slave, but as a beloved brother. 

     As Christians, we should go the hard route to try to love and forgive.  We should strive to help others love and forgive even when it puts us in the cross hairs. 

We treat everyone with love, but we are called to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ with a special love and kindness.

Galatians 6:7-10 

7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

It is not known if Paul was seeking his full emancipation, but we do know from vs 16 that he was seeking a renewed relationship.  

The elements of this letter helped lay the foundation for the abolishment of slavery.

God wants His people to be free in Christ.  We are not to be bought and sold or be the property of other humans.  We are called to be slaves of Christ living free from sin and loving God and others.

Vs 1-3 Paul is held captive because of his faith and proclamation of Jesus.

What are you not willing to do for Jesus?  Will you tell others about Jesus?  Will you be persecuted or jailed for Jesus?  Will you forgive for Jesus?  Will you put down your own ambitions for Jesus?

Philemon was a brother in Christ.  He worked for Christ.  Are you willing to serve God and others and work for Christ?  What does using your gifts for God look like in your day to day?  Do you use your gifts for God and others or just for yourself?

The church is the people of Jesus.  It is not a building or a place.  It is a people.

Vs 4-7 I thank God for each of you here at OHBC.  We pray for you in deacons meetings.  I don’t just hear of your love.  I see your love for God, each other, and the people in Oak Hill. 

Did you know you are a saint?  If you know Jesus as your Lord, you are pure, forgiven, and righteous. 



praying for?  Who are you sharing to?

Vs 8-22- Sometimes we are timid in Christ.  We can be bold in truth, what is right, and in speaking what we know must be done.

It is good and right for us to appeal to our brothers and sisters in Christ sometimes.

Paul wants this relationship restored.  Paul wants peace and forgiveness.  Paul is not hiding this guy.  Paul wants what is right to be done on both ends.  This is not easy in our lives, but we as Christians must do this. 

It is neat to see the fatherly or motherly affection we have for those that are younger in the faith than us.  No matter what your family situation, God gives you a church family to lean on and live with. At first, we are Christian children.  We have Christian parents who influence us and help us grow.  It is God's plan for you to mature into a Christian brother or sister and then into a Christian parent yourself. What a privilege to watch people grow in Christ! 

USELESS!  When we are lost, we serve ourselves and satan. We might impact the world in some way, but we are not doing what we were created to do.  We are created to live for God and to impact others.  This slave was not useless because he was a slave.  He was useless because he was lost.  After Jesus, he was doing ministry, serving, and slaving for Jesus.  He was also willing to do what was right with Philemon.

Think how hard it would be to put yourself back into slavery.  But, even with an earthly boss over us, we can still trust God and be useful!  Paul was even being used as a prisoner!

This passage is not condoning slavery.  In fact, this passage tells us how to truly be set free.  Slavery did and does still exist.  It has all throughout history because man is sinful.  The focus here is not slavery.  The focus is on living for Christ.  

Paul is sending this slave back, so there will be a restored relationship and so all do what is right!

Onesimus was willing to listen to his spiritual father and be led to do what is right when it was hard.

Paul loves Onesimus.  Paul needs him in ministry.  Paul knows he must do the right thing and restore that relationship.  This takes Onesimus out of breaking the law and it takes the owner and pushes him to love Onesimus and forgive him for stealing and running. 

Paul is nicely asking Philemon to free Onesimus. 

Paul shows that it was perhaps God's plan for Onesimus, so that he could be saved; and,now they will be connected forever in heaven!  

They would not be together as master and servant, but as beloved brothers and followers of Christ.

Paul tells Philemon to receive him as a loving guest and as a loving follower of Christ.

Would you handle this like Paul did?  Would you send someone, who you needed, away so that they could do the right thing?  Would you have a hard talk with a Christian brother encouraging him to do right?

Paul even offers to pay his debt that Jesus pays ours.

Romans 6:17-18

17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

1 Corinthians 7:22 

22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ.

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