10:24 AM

A Review of the Book of Philemon

Paul writes this letter to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, but as I read this story I can't help but be drawn to the man who has been set free through the acknowledgment, confession and repentence of his sin which in turn brings forth restoration unto his earthly as well as his heavenly master.

Onesimus in the flesh was a slave, a man in chains.. in bondage, but not just in the flesh.. in his spirit as well. I don’t know what kind of a master Philemon was but I can only imagine by Paul’s words of him that he was kind, good and fair. It was Onesimus who was stated as being useless to his masters household. (Philemon 1:11) 

Was he an outdoor slave tending the flock or working in the fields in the heat of the day, did he have to share duties with another slave that he might of been jealous of or felt inadequate too, or was he young with his head in the clouds, not paying attention to his chores nor having respect for the authority over him? Whatever the case Onesimus was an unprofitable slave who fled from his master’s house.

This is where the story begins to get my attention..
It’s not exactly known why, but Onesimus, a run away slave is in prison with Paul. (Paul say's he has begotten Onesimus in his bonds) Onesimus fled from his master’s home, probably empty handed, maybe with no food or drink to quench his hunger and thirst, so as to provide for himself he may have been caught stealing. Remember, he was useless, so looking for the easy way by stealing could have seemed like the only way for him at the time. So here he is, imprisoned. In chains. In bondage again.

[I can only imagine the scene... Tormented and in anguish as he sat there on the prison floor knowing this time there was no escape, no fleeing into the night quietly while no one was aware. No, this time he was locked up behind closed doors. Expecting to hear moaning’s and complaints from the other prisoners, Onesimus hears something else, praises to the God of Israel who has kept His promise by sending His only begotten Son. Jesus the Redeemer and propitiator of their sin, the one who heals the broken hearted and sets captives free. "Jesus, praise Jesus, glory Halleluia to the King of Kings"!
Freedom from bondage? What’s this he was hearing? Desirous to hear more I can vividly see Onesimus creeping closer to get a look at the prisoners who sang exaltations of peace and praise to God, maybe to hear the good news that was being proclaimed within the prison walls.
And there was Paul, a man very aged but yet still full of light and a countenance radiantly gleaming. How can this be, what is this joy he can I have it too?]

What a beautiful thought, Paul offering a fatherly embrace to this young man who has been tormented in his soul looking for freedom. How glorious it must have been to Onesimus as Paul shared his own testimony of freedom through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son the Savior. Savior of his soul.

Onesimus must have felt shame and embarrassment for his actions of being a selfish, good for nothing slave, fleeing his master and getting caught for a crime he committed. He must have shared everything hoping to receive absolution from Paul, only to be led to Jesus who not only forgives BUT PAY"S THE DEBT IN FULL. The words of unconditional love, forgiveness and freedom must have been the most beautiful words to Onesimus. Free at last!

This story of Onesimus doesn’t end here, it’s also a story of restoration. Paul takes this man, disciples him, and calls him 'his own son that he has begotten in chains'. (Philemon 1:10) We see the love between the two, but for me it is the changed life of Onesimus that proves the love of Christ in him, a slave who becomes free in spirit only to become a slave in the flesh to Paul, taking care of and ministering to Paul’s needs in his old age. Yes, Paul saw a man transformed by the renewing of his mind, a renewal that only the Spirit of the living God could give.

Can you imagine Philemon’s surprise to receive a letter from Paul about his runaway slave?
Paul declaring, "Onesimus has changed"! He was now useful to him in his chains and would be profitable again to Philemon too. Paul adjured Philemon to take Onesimus back, not that Pual was making a command, but as a fellow brother in Christ, a brother who loved this young man and who became his begotten son and fellow servant to the purposes of Christ. And Onesimus, a young man whom Paul would miss tremendously, but out of honoring Philemon and wanting Philemon also to experience the joy of a restored life, was sending Onesimus back and paying any debt to Philemon that Onesimus might have incurred to him.

This is a beautiful story of repentance, yielding and restoration unto the true Master through the working of the Holy Spirit. It is a story of a man who not just confesses Jesus for the sake of freedom, but denies himself, takes up the cross and follows Jesus' example through the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. This is about a man who gives his life to those in authority over him that he may serve them, glean from them, be restored to them and become one with them in the brotherhood of Christ Jesus.

I hope you prayerfully study and enjoy this book!
You will find the story of Philemon within the pages of the New Testament before the book of Hebrews. It is only one page long but has a lifetime of exploration and application!

The Lord bless you tremendously as you seek His face and allow Him to transform you by the renewing of your mind in Christ Jesus.

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