Summary: Philemon has been called "A Postcard With A Punch" Though small in size, it is large in content. A sermon about the three main characters of the book of Philemon
Postcard With A Punch
Philemon has been called a "Postcard With A Punch".
Though it contains only 25 verses, the contents of these verses are quite powerful. There are three main characters mentioned in this letter. Tonight we will look at each one of them and their story.
a. Philemon was a rich man.
Man of considerable wealth with servants.
The church at Colosse met in his house.
He was a very benovolent person who is said to have helped many people after the earthquake of 60a.d.
b. Philemon was a righteous man.
Philemon was a convert under Paul’s ministry at Ephesus.
Later became bishop of Colosse
It is said that he died a martyr at the hands of Nero.
c. Philemon was a reputable man.
Paul held him in high esteem calling him "dearly beloved, and fellow laborer"
Commended for his faith & love for Christ, and the saints.
d. Philemon was a refreshing man.
"Philemon" means "affectionate one".
He lived up to his name and brought joy and encouragement to other believers.
a. Onesimus was a slave.
A slave of Philemon. Millions of people were slaves throughout the Roman empire.
His name means "useful." However "useful" was useless to Philemon !
Paul said he was unprofitable to Philemon in the past.
b. Onesimus was a stealer.
It is said that he stole from his master Philemon.
Paul’s letter concludes with a offer to repay any debts that he might owe.
c. Onesimus was a stray.
Having stolen from his master, he now becomes a fugitive slave.
Travels from Colosse to Rome...over 1000 miles.
Having stolen from Philemon his master, Onesimus now runs away. He tries to get as far away as possible. He goes from Colosse to Rome which is a distance of over1000 miles. Why would he try to get so far away ? He was a fugitive. If he were found as a runaway slave, he could have possibly been executed. Slaves were hated in the Roman empire. In 73 B.C. Spartus led some 70,000 slaves in a revolt which created much havoc, and brought much bloodshed to Rome. After the revolt, Roman officials would crucify 6,000 slaves side by side along a 130 mile stretch of road leading out of Rome ! There would be no more revolts !
d. Onesimus was saved.
Onesimus came into contact with the Apostle Paul probably as a fellow prisoner in Rome. Paul won him to Christ.
a. Paul was a preacher.
Whereever he was, and regardless of his audience, Paul preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.
b. Paul was a prisoner.
Paul was imprisoned in Rome for preaching the gospel. Yet look at his words ! V. 1 I am a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Even in prison he used it as a opportunity to continue to share the gospel, and write letters encouraging the churches, and believers.
Look at Paul’s attitude though in bonds. 2 Tim. 2:9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.
Phil 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
Because of Paul’s faithfulness in adverse circumstances, people still came to the Lord under his ministry. One of those was Onesimus. Onesimus the runaway slave met Paul the Preacher in a prison ! Can’t you just hear Paul witnessing to him ? Onesimus.....I want to tell you about my master .......!
c. Paul was a philanthropist.
Paul was an encourager always desiring that the churches do well. He had a loving attitude, and approach to the saints of God.
d. Paul was a peacemaker.
The intent of this letter to Philemon is to reunite Philemon, and Onesimus. Notice what Paul does:
1. He appeals to Philemon by prayer. V. 4
2. He appeals to Philemon with passion. V.9, 12
3. He appeals to Philemon with positiveness. V 11, 14, 21
4. He appeals to Philemon as a partner. V. 17
5. He appeals to Philemon with promise. V.18-19