Summary: Philemon was led to Christ by Paul, probably at Ephesus. If Philemon forgave Onesimus what would the other slaves think? If he punished him what would other people think about his testimony as a Christian? Let's notice how Paul gently led Philemon down th
Purpose: To see a real life picture of forgiveness.
Aim: I want the listener to repent of any un-forgiveness and humbly extend forgiveness.
INTRODUCTION: Philemon was led to Christ by Paul, probably at Ephesus. He must have been wealthy because his home was big enough for the church to meet in and he owned slaves. Onesimus was a slave of his who robbed him and then ran away to Rome (to get lost in the crowds?). Somehow he met Paul (or sought him out) and was won to Christ.
Now what should he do? Should he stay and help Paul? Should he return and risk the death sentence? If Philemon forgave Onesimus what would the other slaves think? If he punished him what would other people think about his testimony as a Christian?
Let's notice how Paul gently led Philemon down the path of forgiveness.
Vs.1-7 I. Philemon's Qualities
Vs.1-3 A. His calling in Christ "beloved...worker...grace...peace"
In verse 1 Paul reminds his friend that he himself is a prisoner, a worse situation than being a slave, and yet he shows more concern for the slave than himself. Then Paul reminds Philemon of their friendship and the team work they did together.
Then in verse 2 Paul is pointing out other believers that Philemon was accountable to. Apphia was his wife.
Vs.3 Grace: live realizing everything good comes from God "grace to you" This would be a Greek greeting.
Peace: live realizing everything is controlled by God "peace from God"This would be the traditional Hebrew greeting.
Vs.4-5, 7 B. His love for the Lord and His followers "love...faith...refreshed"
When you have to address a problem, start with a compliment if you can.
1 John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another.... (NAU)
Matthew 24:44, 46 44 "For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. 46 "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. (NAU)
Vs.6 C. His need for more growth "faith may become effective"
I.e. that it would have an effect! What effect? FELLOWSHIP Literally means "Sharing or generosity." Then Paul explains what we should share: OF YOUR FAITH.
Ephesians 6:19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, (NAU)
2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; (NAU)
We should pray for our fellow believers with motives that are pure and selfless. 1 Timothy 2:8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. (NAU)
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 11 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (NAU)
Jesus told us that doing right is not enough: "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
Paul points out that the effectiveness of Philemon's work for Christ is directly related to his awareness of what Christ has done for him: "the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake" i.e. give God the credit for everything good He does in you!
In other words, Paul is exhorting Philemon to learn more about the grace of God. James reminds us "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow " (James 1:17).
The best gift we have is the Gospel. "keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life" (Jude 21).
If you depend on your Master (and not your Master Card) for your needs and for the joy of your salvation then you will have something good to share with those who don't know Christ. As David prayed: "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation... " (Psalm 51:12).
Vs.8-16 II. Reasons Philemon should forgive
There were about 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire. Runaway slaves were a common problem, but Paul's goal wasn't just to return a slave to his master. He wanted Philemon to forgive and fully accept this man back into his life.