Tag: dear brother
Scripture reading for October 13th: Philemon
Paul’s short letter to his dear friend, Philemon, who lived in Colosse stands as an example of how the early church fathers dealt with the sensitive issue of slavery under a government where it was legal and with church members who actually owned slaves. Philemon owned Onesimus, a slave who had run away and providentially found Paul in Rome in jail. The letter reflects Paul’s heart for his friend, Philemon, and for Onesimus, his new ‘son’ through receiving Christ as Lord.
“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow solder and to the church that meets in your home: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (vs. 1-2) Paul was in jail, but considered himself a ‘prisoner of Jesus Christ.” He wrote with affection and blessing to Philemon and the church family in Colosse. He had no condemnation or words of judgment, but thanksgiving and commendation for the love and work of Philemon and his church family.
“Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. . . . I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. . . .Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good–no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. . . .So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.” (Philemon 8-9,10-11,15-17) Paul wanted Philemon to joyfully and willingly receive Onesimus back as a brother in the Lord. He might still do the work of a slave, but he was free in Christ! May this example stir our hearts with Christ’s love!
Scripture reading for December 11th: Philemon
Forgiving offenses is not an easy task for anyone, especially for those who are in authority. Pride runs deep and the power to get even or make the offender pay brings great temptation, even for Christians. Our short letter today is all about God’s grace and our need to apply it to those who don’t deserve it!
Onesimus was a slave belonging to Philemon. This slave had run away and gone to Rome. There in Rome, he encountered the apostle Paul, who preached the gospel to him, and he was gloriously saved. He served Paul and grew in the faith. But Paul knew that real faith in Christ leads to a godly life and to restitution for wrongs done. As a wise pastor, Paul instructed Onesimus to return to Philemon and to appeal for mercy and forgiveness. Paul wrote this short letter to Philemon appealing to him as a Christian brother for mercy for Onesimus.
“Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul–an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus–I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.” (Philemon 8-11) It is always love and mercy that leads to true repentance. Paul could use his authority, but then Philemon would just do it out of obligation and not from a heart of love. Paul appealed for his “son”, now a believer in Christ. This slave who is now a “son of God” had been adopted into God’s family as was Philemon. That put their relationship on a different level because both had received grace from Christ.
The beauty of this short story, is that it is the story of our lives as well. We were slaves of sin and because of God’s mercy we have been forgiven much. If we have been forgiven much, we must forgive others their sins. We also need to make restitution where we can with those we have wronged in a spirit of meekness, appealing to the love of Christ! We go from slaves of sin to dear brothers and sisters of Christ and of other believers!