USE YOUR THINKERS!
Paul and Timothy begun their correspondence with a ministry colleague
by the name of Philemon, the church members that attended services in
his home, and two other believers by name, Apphia and Archippus.
The letter started with highlighting the admirable qualities of Philemon.
5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and
toward all saints;
6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is
in you in Christ Jesus.
Paul includes himself as a beneficiary of his generosity.
7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are
refreshed by thee, brother.
Paul encouraged Philemon to exercise these celebrated characteristics,
regardless of one's socioeconomic status and personal experience (Vs 11 & 18)
by welcome Onesimus, not for who he was to him in the flesh, but who he is
in the spirit (Vs.16), although debtors often used this establishment as
means of relief or restitution.
Onesimus, appeared to have been a sibling of Philemon (Vs.16) who
was in a servitude class unto his brother.
Perhaps Onesimus fell on hard times and exchanged his labor for aid
(Lev 25 v 39)...but this scripture speaks against enslavement).
He may have wronged his brother through thievery (Vs 18 & 19) and was
required to make restitution (Exodus 22:2-3). Whatever the circumstances was,
Onesimus was dissatisfied and it showed in his slavery by being useless
(Vs 11) and by becoming a fugitive (Vs 15).
Paul seemed to have been advocating the manumission of Onesimus...as
biblical law states one who runs away may go free (Deuteronomy 23:15-16)
He desired equality by requesting Philemon to receive Onesimus in the
same manner he would have welcomed Paul(Vs 17). It was common for some
churches to purchase the freedom of slaves, this may have been the hopes
of Paul by paying off any debts Onesimus may have owed Philemon (Vs 18 & 19).
The New Testament urges forgiveness:
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
This teaching of the Lord was applied when Paul puts Philemon in
remembrance of his own debts, that of his soul which was won over to
Christ by the efforts of Paul (Vs.19).
Mark 8:36 & 37
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul?
37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?