Summary: I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:
If he hath wronged thee, or oweth [thee] ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written [it] with mine own hand, I will repay [it]: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.
This is a story which teaches us a lesson for those who have lived such a sinful life and wonder if they can ever be a child of God.
We are looking at the smallest letter ever written by the Apostle Paul - PHILEMON
· only 25 verses
· a personal letter
· written to a wealthy slave-owner named Philemon
· about a broken relationship
I. THE SETTING
· Philemon had a slave named Onesimus
· This slave stole from Philemon and ran away.
· Onesimus ran away to Rome and there he was saved and became a Christian.
· This is a message written by Paul of forgiveness.
· It is a letter for every one of us.
II. PAUL’S ROMAN BONDAGE
How did Onesimus get to hear Paul in Rome?
· Paul was imprisoned in Rome
Acts 28:16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
Acts 28:30-31 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
· Referring to his imprisonment in Rome, He told the Philippians that this situation allowed him to do more for the Gospel than ever before.
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;
· He preached to people he could not otherwise have preached to.
· He seen guards saved.
· And he seen a runaway slave named Onesimus saved.
· 60 million slaves kept Rome going at that time.
· They were sold like common animals.
· The government did not give them many rights.
· The masters could whip, beat, torture and crucify a slave according to his own wishes.
· Slaves were not even considered as men
· Even Aristotle, a Greek intellectualist, said most all men were created to be slaves.
· That was the mentality at that time.
· Onesimus not only ran away, but stole from Philemon.
· His only refuge was to lose himself in the masses of people at Rome itself.
Verse 18 says tells us he stole something.
Phle 1:18 If he hath wronged thee, or oweth [thee] ought, put that on mine account;
· Not just a runaway, but also a THIEF.
· Not only guilty for skipping out on his master, but he stole something from him.
IV. ONESIMUS IS SAVED FROM SIN
· One day under the guilt and fear of being a runaway slave and a thief, fearing to be caught and who-knows-what, he happened to hear a man shouting to a crowd gathered around a house.
· He heard Paul preaching the Gospel.
· He listened.
· Something started happening in his heart.
· He heard Pal preach his need to change his life and ask God to forgive him.
· He heard Paul tell the people to be baptized in Jesus’ name.
· And he heard Paul speak of the gift of the Holy Ghost baptism.
· And he obeyed the Gospel that day.
· He knew he had to make it right with his master now that he was a Christian.
· It is not enough to simply say you are saved.
· He had to make restitution with the people he stole from.
· Christ forgave him, but he must now seek the forgiveness of Philemon.
· He knew he had two problems.
o He owed Philemon for stealing from him.
o Would Philemon forgive him?
V. PAUL MAKES A PLEA FOR ONESIMUS
· Onesimus told Paul about the situation, since Onesimus was now an honest man and knew he had to make things rights if wanted to be saved.
· He was changed!
· The Gospel will change a thief into an honest man, if that man is serious with God.
· How else could Paul have known about the situation if Onesimus was not honest enough to seek Paul’s advice and tell him of the situation?
· So Paul writes a letter to Philemon.
· He begins by calling himself a prisoner or a slave of Jesus Christ.
o Paul is preparing Philemon for his request by saying he himself is a prisoner, as all true Christians are.
o Prisoners of Jesus Christ.