Summary: Historical Background of the book. Interpretation of the book. Application of the book. email for PowerPoint slides -

New Testament Postcards Philemon

Reading: Philemon


• Back in 1820 the average person in England wrote only three letters a year.

• And with good reason.

• Letters in those days were mailed without a cover and could be read by anyone.

• But William Mulready had an idea to ensure privacy—the envelope.

• It was an idea he stole from the French;

• On a visit to France Mulready noticed that important messages;

• Were completely enclosed in a little paper case...

• Making them impervious to the peering eyes of the curious.

• On his return to England he introduced this new way of sending mail,

• It was an instant success, and the rest as they say is history!

One form of mail that anybody can still read:

• Is the postcard.

• Philemon is really a New testament postcard:

• I call it that because,

• It is a one chapter book of the Bible & shortest of all Paul’s writings.

The letter of Philemon:

• Is the only private letter that the apostle Paul wrote,

• That is included in the New Testament.

• This alone gives to it special significance,

• Marks it out as different, unique.

• It is 25 verses long, you can read it in 4 minutes.

• You can read quicker than some folks can find it!

Philemon is a much-ignored book in the New Testament:

• Probably because as you read it you notice:

• That there is no imposing thought, there is no great heresy that needs correcting.

• That there is not even any great doctrines mentioned.

• There implied but never mentioned.

• Now you would not expect Paul to do that.

• So this alone makes this letter unique and special.

To appreciate the book of Philemon a knowledge of the setting is important:

(1). The Background of Philemon.

• Turn please to Acts chapter 28 verse 16:

• "When WE got to Rome" (pause there for a minute).

• That verse first of all informs us that Paul was not alone,

• Note the second word "We".

• So obviously it means Paul and the one who wrote the book:

• Who we know from Acts chapter 1 verse 1 is Dr Luke,

"When WE got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself,

with a soldier to guard him".

(1). Historical Background:

• Paul has taken 3 great missionary journeys,

• He travelled all over his continent,

• To the lands we call today Turkey and Greece,

• And regions of Europe.

But now (Acts chapter 28 verse 16) Paul is in Rome, this was his dream, his ambition:

• To get to Rome,

• The capitol of the world and maybe to talk with the Roman Empower Nero.

His dream has turned into a bit of a nightmare:

• Soon after arriving in Rome he is arrested,

• He loses his freedom,

• And he is placed under house arrest.

• Verse 16: "With a soldier to guard him".

Go down the chapter to Verse 30-31:

"For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house

and welcomed all who came to see him".

boldly, and without hindrance he preached the Kingdom of God

and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ".

Even though he was confined to a house with a constant guard at his side:

• Paul preached and he always had a congregation,

• Even if it was just the guards who kept watch over him,

• Verse 30 informs us : "Paul welcomed all who came to see him".

• Paul preached and taught:

• And folks were saved.

• And in the homes of those Roman citizens were slaves.

• At that time an estimated sixty million slaves,

• Inhabited the Roman Empire.

Now a slave was regarded simply:

• As a living tool,

• A two legged beast,

• Considered to have no soul,

• Considered to have no significant importance,

• He or she was a tool owned by the master:

• To be used and even abused, at his masters caprice / desire.

Quote: one historian writes it like this:

• "A slave was not even a person, he was a living tool,

• his master had absolute power over his slaves,

• he could box their ears or condemn them to hard labour,

• making them for instance work in chains upon his land,

• he may punish them at will, with the blows of the rod,

• or the lash of the not".

By the first centaury, under Roman law:

• Slaves had been given some rights & protection,

• But that would be more akin to our present laws,

• Protecting animals rather than human rights.

Don’t forget Paul was also a Hebrew:

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