Summary: In Philemon 17-19, we will see how we are like Onesimus in 3 ways so that we will supremely value our salvation in Christ. We have 1.) An Undeserved Substitute (v. 17) 2.) An Unpayable Debt (v.18) 3.) An Unbelievable Payment (v.19)


(Philemon 17-19)


Many of you have asked why I left my last church. I thought I would take some time this morning to briefly explain those circumstances…

I was not getting along with our worship leader. And our issues with one another were beginning to spill over into the worship service.

One week I was teaching on commitment, and how we should dedicate to service // I Shall Not be Moved

The next Sunday I preached on giving and how we should be giving our money to the work of the Lord // Jesus Paid it All

Next Sunday, I taught on the sin of gossip and how we should watch our tongues. // I Love to Tell the Story

I got pretty upset. So, I told the congregation the next Sunday that I was considering resigning // Oh, Why not Tonight?

I decided to resign. The next week on a Sunday evening, I told the congregation that I believed Jesus had led me to this church and now Jesus was leading me somewhere else // What a Friend we Have in Jesus.

We all have been in conflict before with other believers. We get sideways…Reconciliation, Forgiveness, Fellowship, Mediation…. Those are all themes we have been exploring in our series on Philemon – “More Than a Slave”. This morning we are going to conclude our 4 part series with a look at what Jesus Christ has done in order to make those truths we have been studying a reality in our lives.

This morning, we are going to step into the shoes of Onesimus (go into background) We are going to put ourselves in his place to better understand what Christ did for us.

Martin Luther “We are all his Onesimi if we really believe it.”


The Point:

In Philemon 17-19, we will see how we are like Onesimus in 3 ways so that we will supremely value our salvation in Christ.

An Undeserved Substitute (v. 17)

An Unpayable Debt (v.18)

An Unbelievable Payment (v.19)


“If then you regard me as a partner, accept him as you would me.”

If then you regard me as a partner

Paul begins with a condition. The stipulation has to do with seeing Paul as a partner.


koinwnaVs (partner or companion)

Meant much more than a partner for the word itself is derived from the Greek word for fellowship (koinwniVa)

·“Partnership based upon their common life in Jesus Christ”

·In his heart and thought Philemon most certainly regarded Paul as a koinwnaVs (partner in the gospel ministry)

oAfter all, it was Paul who led Phil to Christ

oIt was Paul who labored in ministry on Phil’s behalf

oIt was Paul refers to Phil in v.1 as a beloved brother and fellow worker

·Paul was indeed a partner with Philemon in the fellowship of faith and the gospel ministry

Since the condition is met (the condition being Philemon indeed recognizes Paul as a partner) then here is the result of the condition:

“…accept him as you would me.”

Philemon was to accept Onesimus as if he were receiving Paul himself. Simply Paul was taking Onesimus’ place. He was a substitute.

Welcome him as you would welcome me. Forgive him as you would forgive me. Hold no obligation against him as you would hold no obligation against me. Just take him back just the way you’d take me.

Thus as Philemon was standing there looking at Onesimus, he was to see the face of the Apostle Paul. Paul was a substitute, taking Onesimus’ place.

Paul gave Onesimus his full plate in place of an empty one – Philemon was to receive Onesimus’ full plate.

And like Paul took Onesimus’ place, Jesus Christ takes our place. Paul appeals to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus. Jesus appeals to the Father on our behalf and says, “Father accept them as you would me”

At the heart of Christianity is the doctrine of Substitution:

Substitution is the true meaning of Christ’s death because he sacrificed Himself in the place of condemned sinners to satisfy God’s holy wrath and righteous judgment against sinners.

This is also described as vicarious from the Latin word meaning ‘one in place of another’. The death of Christ “is vicarious in the sense that Christ is the Substitute who bears the punishment rightly due sinners, their guilt being imputed to Him in such a way that He representatively bore their punishment.

2 Cor. 5:21 He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him

Gal. 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us…”

God’s holy wrath was poured out on Jesus (innocent, blameless, pure – ‘the spotless lamb’) in place of us (wicked, helpless, prideful, sinners) Simply put, Jesus took our place. He was our Great substitute. Why did this take place?

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Gene Beezer

commented on Oct 1, 2009

Great sermon. Good exegisis, good applications and Great illustrations!

Suresh Manoharan

commented on Nov 8, 2023

A sermon which takes a 360 degree on the Doctrine of Substitution...using one of the shortest books of The Bible. Sermon reflects a thorough preparation of the Pastor concerned and his intimate relationship with his Master...

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