The Book of Philemon
Autor: Dorina Madaras  |  Album: fara album  |  Tematica: Cartile Bibliei
Resursa adaugata de Dorina1980 in 22/12/2016
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WOW!! One word to describe this chapter is simply WOW!! I implore everyone, in Jesus name, to read and study this chapter of the Scripture. This small book is an exceptional  masterpiece of grace and tact and a profound demonstration of the power of Christ and of true Christ-like fellowship in action. The message in this personal letter is absolutely exceptional and extremly relevant to each and every one of us, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. It is such a privilege to share with you the Word of God! Praise God beloved Church of Christ! Aleluia! All glory be to God!!

 At the foreman's signal, the giant ball is released, and with dynamite force and a reverberating crash, it meets the wall, snapping bricks like twigs and scattering pieces of mortar. Repeatedly, the powerful pendulum works, and soon the barrier has been reduced to rubble. Then it is carted away so that construction can begin.     

 Life has many walls and fences that divide, separate, and compartmentalize. Not made of wood or stone, they are personal obstructions, blocking people from each other and from God. But Jesus Christ came as the great wall remover, tearing down the sin partition that separates us from God and blasting the barriers that keep us from serving each other. His death and resurrection opens the way to eternal life to bring all who believe in Him, into the family of God (Ephesians 2:14-18).

  Roman, Greek, and Jewish cultures were littered with barriers, as society assigned people to classes and expected them to stay in their place: men and women, slave and free, rich and poor, Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and barbarians, pious and pagan. But with the message of Christ, the walls came down, and Apostle Paul could declare: "There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:11). ALELUIA! All glory be to God!

  This life-changing truth forms the backdrop for the personal letter to Philemon. One of three personal letters in the Bible, the letter to Philemon is Apostle Paul's personal plea for a slave. 

Onesimus "belonged" to Philemon, a member of the Colossian church and Apostle Paul's friend. But Onesimus, the slave, had stolen from his master and had run away. He had run to Rome, where he had met Apostle Paul, and there he had responded to the Word of God and had come to faith in Christ (1:10). Apostle Paul convinced Onesimus that running from his problems wouldn't solve them, and he persuaded Onesimus to return to his master. So Apostle Paul wrote to Philemon and reintroduced the repented Onesimus to him, explaining that he was sending him back, not just as a slave but as a brother in Christ (1:11-12, 16). Because Apostle Paul was an elder and an apostle, he could have used his authority with Philemon, commanding him to deal kindly with his runaway slave, but Apostle Paul based his request not on his own authority but on Philemon's godly commitment. Apostle Paul wanted Philemon's voluntary heartfelt, not grudging, obedience. Tactfully he asked Philemon to accept and forgive his brother (1:10, 14-15, 20).  The barriers of the past and the new ones erected by Onesimus's desertion and theft should divide them no longer for they are one in Christ (1:16-17). Apostle  Paul demonstrated genuine love for Onesimus by personally guaranteeing payment for any stolen goods or wrongs for which Onesimus was responsible (1:18). Philemon owed himself to Apostle Paul, meaning that Apostle Paul had led Philemon to Christ. Because Apostle Paul was Philemon's spiritual father, he was hoping that Philemon would feel a debt of gratitude that he would repay by accepting Onesimus with a spirit of forgiveness (1:19). Apostle Paul was released from prison soon after writing this letter (1:21).

  ➡The BLUEPRINT of this letter is:   

1.) Apostle Paul's appreciation of Philemon  (1:1–7)  

2.) Apostle Paul's appeal for Onesimus  (1:8–25)

Apostle Paul pleads on behalf of Onesimus, a runaway slave. Apostle Paul's intercession for him illustrates what Christ has done for us. As Apostle Paul interceded for a slave, so Christ intercedes for us, slaves to sin. As Onesimus was reconciled to Philemon, so we are reconciled to God through Christ. As Apostle Paul offered to pay the debts of a slave, so Christ paid our debt of sin. Like Onesimus, we must change our ways and return to God our Master and serve Him! Amin! 

➡ The THEMES in this letter are:

1.) FORGIVENESS

》EXPLANATION: Philemon was Apostle Paul's friend and the legal owner of the slave Onesimus. A master had the legal right to kill a runaway slave, so Onesimus feared for his life. Apostle Paul asked Philemon not to punish Onesimus but to forgive the runaway slave, who had repented and restore him as a new Christian, brother in Christ.

》IMPORTANCE: Christian relationships must be full of forgiveness and acceptance. As Christians, we should forgive as we have been forgiven (Matthew 6:12; Ephesians 4:31-32). 

True forgiveness means that we treat the one we've forgiven as we would want to be treated. Can we forgive those who have wronged us? Is there someone we say we have forgiven but who still needs our kindness?

2.) BARRIERS

》EXPLANATION: Slavery was widespread in the Roman Empire. In these early days, Christians did not have the political power to change the slavery system, so it was a barrier between people. Apostle Paul didn't condemn or condone slavery, but he worked to transform relationships. 

》IMPORTANCE: We must ask ourselves: What barriers stand in our home, neighborhood, and church? What separates us from fellow believers? Race? Status? Sex? Wealth? Education? Personality?  Many barriers come between people, but Jesus Christ can break down these barriers. In Christ we are ONE family! No walls of racial, economic, personal or political differences can separate us. The Gospel begins to change social structures by changing the people within those structures.  As with Philemon, God calls us to love one another, by seeking unity, forgiveness,  breaking down those walls and be accepting of other faithful believers,  embracing our brothers and sisters in Christ! We must let Christ work through us to remove those barriers between us Christian brothers and sisters.

3.)RECONCILIATION

》EXPLANATION: Apostle Paul urged Philemon to be reconciled to his slave, putting the past behind and starting over, a fresh relationship, receiving him as a brother and fellow member of God's family. 

》IMPORTANCE: Reconciliation means re-establishing relationship. Jesus Christ has reconciled us to God and to others. Jesus Christ changed Onesimus's relationship to Philemon from slave to brother. Christ can transform our most hopeless relationships into deep and loving friendships.

4.) RESPECT

》EXPLANATION: Apostle Paul was a friend of both Philemon and Onesimus. He had the authority as an apostle to tell Philemon what to do. Yet Apostle Paul chose to appeal to his friend in godly love rather than to order him what to do. Through his humble approach, Apostle Paul showed his respect to Philemon. 

》IMPORTANCE: Tactful persuasion accomplishes a great deal more than commands when dealing with people. Let's remember to exhibit courtesy and respect in our spiritual relationships. Instead of overusing power or position, we should use Apostle Paul's approach to rebuild a trusting, spiritual relationship - "humbleness, loving, joyful, seeking peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

5.) LOVE

》EXPLANATION: Apostle  Paul genuinely loved Onesimus by referring to him as 'son'. Apostle Paul showed his love by mediating for him and personally guaranteeing payment for any stolen goods or wrongs for which Onesimus might be responsible. Apostle Paul's investment in the life of this new believer certainly encouraged and strengthened Onesimus's faith.

》IMPORTANCE: "Above all things, we must love each other, for love covers a multitudes of sins" (1 Peter 4:8)  Are there young believers who need us to demonstrate such love and self-sacrifice toward them? At every opportunity, we should lovingly and joyously invest in the lives of others, helping them with Bible study, prayer, encouragement, support, and friendship. Beloved Church of Christ, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7). Amin!

6.) EQUALITY

》EXPLANATION: What a difference Onesimus's status as a Christian made in his relationship to Philemon. He was no longer merely a slave, but he was also a brother in Christ. That meant that both Onesimus and Philemon were members of God's family—equals in Christ. 

Philemon was Apostle Paul's partner in grace. Apostle Paul and Philemon shared the same experience in Jesus Christ of being saved; in that sense, they were equals. 

》IMPORTANCE: A Christian's status as a member of God's family transcends all other distinctions among believers. Do we look down on any fellow Christians? We must  remember, they are our equals before Christ (Galatians 3:28). How we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ's family reflects our true Christian commitment.   

Too often our relationships in the church don't possess true partnership but reflect merely tolerance of one another. Do we have room in our heart to welcome other believers warmly? We must treat them as partners in God's grace and love, not just fellow workers. Let our common interests in Christ and out common feeling of gratitude for Christ's love knit us together with others, Church of Christ! 

7.) REBUILD TRUST

》EXPLANATION: Apostle Paul provides a good example of how to deal with conflict between Christians. When reconciling a separation or mediating a dispute, trust must be rebuilt between the conflicting parties. Notice the steps that Apostle Paul used to help rebuild the trust: 

(1) He identified with those involved, calling Philemon "brother" and Onesimus "my son."

(2) He requested, not ordered, Philemon to do the right thing. 

(3) He sought Philemon's voluntary consent, not his submission to rules or authority. 

(4) He appealed to godly love, not to power or authority. 

(5) He agreed to absorb the loss and pay any cost for restoration. 

》IMPORTANCE: Instead of overusing power or position, we must use Apostle Paul's attitude and approach  to rebuild a trusting, godly relationship - "humbleness, loving, joyful, seeking peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

8.) ATTITUDE

》EXPLANATION: This Christian brother Philemon knew how to be refreshing. He was able to revive and restore his brothers and sisters in the faith. His love and generosity had replenished and stimulated them. Philemon also encouraged Apostle Paul by his love and loyalty.

》IMPORTANCE: Are we a refreshing influence on others, or does our attitude and temperament add to the burden they carry? Instead of draining others' energy and motivation with complaints and problems, we must replenish their spirits by encouragement, love, and a helpful attitude.

9.) WILL OF GOD

》EXPLANATION: Apostle Paul explains to Philemon that he believes there is a specific reason why Onesimus departed for a while, perhaps for this purpose of receiving him forever in flesh and in the Lord. Otherwise, if Onesimus would have not runaway, Philemon may have always treated him like a slave. 

》IMPORTANCE: Things always happen for a reason, it is called the will of God. We may not always understand, but we must trust the Lord that whatever it may be, it serves for this purpose, His divine plan! 

Grace, mercy, and peace be with us from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.God bless us all! I love you, in Jesus name! Amen!! God bless you!

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