Paul’s Letter to Philemon

Nick commented on another blog that he thought Philemon was a throw away letter – that he did not see the point of it being in the NT.   This is a shame. 

Keeping it simple, if I were to sum up the gospel as I see it in the Letter to Philemon it would be that just as Paul was an advocate to Philemon on behalf of Onisemus to grant him freedom – so to Jesus Christ is an advocate before the Father on our behalf to grant us freedom from sin and death

Note that Paul asked that if Onisemus had done any wrong to Philemon to charge it to his account – this is the case with Christ on our behalf – our sin was charged to his account! 

Also, I think a very significant lesson we can learn from Philemon is one about characterdo you have to be told what to do or can a person know that on the basis of your character ask you a favor and know it will be done?   So I think a key issue Philemon addresses is that of character – do we have to be told what to do or can we do it willingly on the basis of our character?  Or, also, will we be willing to do even more than they ask us?

This is short but just a few thoughts on Philemon.

4 responses to “Paul’s Letter to Philemon

  1. John MacArthur did four sermons on Philemon which opened my eyes up to a lot of stuff and you brought up a couple more points. There’s a lot to be learned from it. Nice post.

  2. I agree, Philemon is very important. It also shows Paul’s subversiveness. He called on Philemon to break every social custom in place in the Roman world. It also forces us to ask the question, ‘What does it mean for Philemon to accept Onisemus as a brother in Christ and still be a slave?’ (I think I stole that part from NT Wright, whoever I did steal it from, I didn’t come up with that on my own.) 🙂

  3. Fee has said that if he could have just two letters from the NT it would be Philemon and some other one (either galatians or phillipians or something) because it shows most clearly the social effects of the Gospel.

  4. If anything, at least how I see things, Philemon is quite practical and teaches us what the gospel should look like in welcoming and forgiving others.

    It bleeds with the spirit of Christ.

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