Home > Christianity, Church, Faith > An Introduction To Philemon

An Introduction To Philemon

After spending all summer in Philippians, we ended that study last week.  For the next six weeks, we take up Paul’s letter to Philemon.

Philemon was written while Paul was imprisoned in Rome.  Philemon was part of the church in Colosae.  He had come to faith in Christ under Paul’s ministry, most likely in Ephesus, and was well-known to Paul.  He owned a slave named Onesimus.  Onesimus ran away to Rome and somehow  came into contact with Paul.  He comes to know Christ through his relationship with Paul.  He becomes a valuable friend to Paul, however there was the issue of his running away from Philemon that had to be dealt with.  The letter Paul sent to Philemon is what followed.

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother.  Paul considered himself a prisoner and slave himself .  He was a prisoner of the Lord.  A bondservant.  In Paul’s view, we are all prisoners and slaves.  We are either prisoners and slaves to sin or we are prisoners and slaves to the Lord.  That is Paul’s worldview that he has following his conversion to Christ.  It’s how he sees the world.  It’s how he describes himself and forms his identity.

Writing this letter along with Paul, perhaps actually physically writing as Paul dictates, is Timothy.  Timothy is described as our brother.  It would be easy for Paul to describe Timothy as just a notch below.  After all, he led Timothy to the Lord.  He has taken Timothy under his wing and mentored him through live.  Timothy is his son in the faith, yet Paul considers him his equal, his brother.

To Philemon, our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier; and the church in your house.  Paul’s description of Philemon is interesting.  First, he called s him beloved.  Obviously, he cared deeply for this man.  He was part of the family, so to speak.

Paul also describes him as a fellow worker.  He stood beside Paul in his ministry.  He took his faith back to Colosae and was a vital part of the Church there.

Paul also addressed other in this letter.  He also wrote to Apphia, who most likely was Philemon’s wife.  Paul describes her as “our sister”, so she too knew the Lord and was part of Paul’s extended and expansive family.

Addressed next was Archippus.  Archippus is described as a “fellow soldier”.  He was probably Philemon’s son and was a worker in the church in Colosae.

Paul also addresses the church that meets in Philemon’s house.  This positions Philemon as a leader in the Colossian church.  The church would probably follow Philemon’s lead, so Paul was not just writing an individual letter, but one that would affect an entire group of people.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Familiar in Paul’s epistles are his  standard greeting of grace and peace.  True grace and peace can only come from the Lord and Paul wishes these to be vital components of those who belong to the Church’s lives.

What are out takeaways from these first verses?

  1. We are all captured.  We are either captured by sin or we are captured by the Lord.
  2. Love and affection should be descriptive of our relationships with those in the Church.
  3. Work is a part of anyone who belongs to the Church.
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