Summary: A plea for forgiveness as found in the great book of Philemon
A young man – who will remain nameless
Grew up in a household where he was well taken care of.
All of his needs were met
The primary source of his support was not a father, mother
It was his master – our young man was a slave – and born into slavery
Slavery was very different in our story
Living conditions were about the same as a son
Food and clothing were provided
Earned close to the same amount of money
They had legal rights (slaves accused of crimes to be tried like free men)
Could be doctors, musicians, teachers, artists…
Our young man had 5 years left (the average was 7-20) of service to his master
Cleaning the room – nock over a box of jewels
Debating in his mind over the precious stones
The next day, the master’s wife finds out and the search was on
Panicking for fear of being caught – he flees – therefore complicating his problem
Now, not only was a thief, he was also a fugitive (a runaway slave)
He makes a hasty decision to head to the biggest city in the area
Our young man hides during the day and travels at night
Dodging the ever vigilant slave catchers
These people do cruel things to runaways
Upon arrival in the city he encounters an evangelist who shares with him the Gospel
The young man is curious to the message as the weight of his sin so heavily hung upon him
The young man and evangelist talk
But the young man is careful to hide his true identity from the evangelist
“There is someone I would like you to meet” says the evangelist
He is lead to a location (as he approaches a sinking feeling fills the bottom of his stomach
He is coming up on a prison.
‘I have been caught’ he thinks.
‘They have found me out’.
Yet – something makes him continue on
The Evangelist leads the young man to a prison cell.
As the doors open, expecting to find it empty and himself as the future resident.
He sees a man in the later years of his life.
“Grace to you and peace from God the Father of My Lord Jesus Christ”
The young man immediately realizes that he is safe as the 2 men talk through the night
By morning, the young man had given his life to Jesus Christ
The young man returns daily to visit the prisoner and to be discipled by him
The prisoner writes a lot
A lot of letters to different people and different churches.
But he is never too busy for our young man
The young man is dear to the prisoner and he asks him to do various errand for him
The young man is glad to do so
Then one day, the young man decides to let the cat out of the bag.
He tells him of his former life…
You must return and be reconciled to your master
“DO you know what he could do?”
He could have me killed
I do know the cost of being obedient to the will of God
Who is your master?
Who is your Master now?
You will return tonight, a friend and this letter will accompany you.
Philemon’s theme is “A plea for forgiveness”
Does Christian brotherly love really work even in situations of extraordinary tension and difficulty?
Will it work, for example, between a prominent slave owner and one of his runaway slaves?
Paul has no doubt
He writes a “postcard” to Philemon
His beloved brother and fellow worker
On behalf of Onesimus
A deserter, a thief, and formerly worthless slave
But now Philemon’s brother in Christ
This is a private, personal letter to a friend
But it is also for this friend’s family and church
READ PHILEMON 8-11
Paul wrote this letter from Rome in about A.D. 60 when he was under house arrest
Onesimus was a domestic slave who belonged to Philemon
A wealthy landowner in Colosse
And also a member of the Colossian church
This church was meeting in Philemon’s home
Onesimus had run away from Philemon
And had made his way to Rome where he met Paul
Paul convinced Onesimus that running from his problems wouldn’t solve them
And he persuaded him to return to his master
Paul wrote this letter to Philemon to ask him to be reconciled to his runaway slave
Ultimately this letter is about forgiveness
And can be broken down into 4 parts
The Character of One Who Forgives
The Actions of One Who Forgives
The Motives of One Who Forgives
I. The Greeting (1-3)
It is interesting that Paul introduced himself as “a prisoner of Jesus Christ”
He was imprisoned for the sake of and by the sovereign will of Christ