Summary: An introduction to Paul's epistle to Philemon.
Reconciliation Through Forgiveness
Many years ago in Scotland, there was a man of God named John Knox. Knox carried a tremendous burden for his land. He had a certain hideout... it was his refuge from Queen Mary. There on the wooden floor of that refuge that he would pray on behalf of his people. One night his wife pleaded with him to get some sleep, he answered, “How can I sleep when my land is not saved?” It is said that Knox would pray all night in agony saying, “Lord, give me Scotland or I die!” Thorough Knox, God shook Scotland; God gave him Scotland.
Praise God for people with a burden. Praise God for people who care about others. I am thankful that throughout my life there have been people who went to God on my behalf. There were people who cared about my spiritual condition Not only did they care, they ministered to me. And they went before the Master to plead with Him on my behalf. They acted as an intercessor of sorts. An "Intercessor" is a person who intervenes on behalf of another.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate intercessor - 1 John 2:1 ¶My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Today, before the throne is our Savior, He died for our offenses, He rose for our justification and now He is making intercession on our behalf. Jesus suffered for us... "the just for the unjust"
1 Peter 3:18 ¶For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
The reason for His suffering and sacrifice was so that He could "bring us to God" . As our Intercessor, Jesus intervened for us. This word "Intervene" is defined this way - to come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events. We were dead in our trespasses and sins and destined for Hell. Because of our transgressions we would have faced the righteous wrath of God. But then Jesus came and "altered that course of events"
Wrath and condemnation was our destiny. There was nothing we could do to change that fact. But then God provided mercy in the form of His sinless Son!
: Aren't you glad that when you were guilty...MERCY WALKED IN! Gordon Mote sings a song that describes this so well
"I stood in the court room... the judge turned my way"
"It looks like you're guilty... now what do you say"
"I spoke up your honor... have no defense"
"But that's when... mercy walked in"
"Mercy walked in... and pleaded my case"
"Called to the stand... God's saving grace"
"The blood was presented... that covered my sin"
"Forgiven... when mercy walked in"
Praise God for the intercessory work of The Lord Jesus Christ! This epistle that we have read this evening paints a great picture of intervening on someone else's behalf. Paul, stood as an advocate on behalf of Onesimus and pleaded for mercy on his behalf.
Introduction to the Epistle: This Epistle is addressed to a man named Philemon. It is clear that Paul the Apostle wrote this letter. He refers to himself on 3 occasions:
- v1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,
- v9 Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
- v19 I Paul have written it with mine own hand...
This letter was very personal in nature. In the verses that we have just referenced it is clear that Paul was in prison at the time of it's writing. There are 4 Prison Epistles ... Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. It is commonly believed that this letter and the letter to the Colossians were written around the same time. The letter was most likely penned somewhere around 60-63 A.D.
There are several saints of God mentioned in this Epistle. Timothy, Epaphras, Marcus, Demas & Lucas are all briefly mentioned. But the 3 main characters of this letter are: Paul, Philemon and Onesimus. There in Colossae was this man Philemon. It is apparent that Philemon was a wealthy man and it is believed that his house was large enough to house the church at Colosse. He had a slave named Onesimus. Onesimus had wronged Philemon in some way. It is commonly accepted that he robbed him. Notice what Paul says in v18 If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;