Tag Archives: Onesimus

Found Forever

Philemon is a short letter but it is surely a gem. In Philemon 1:15, Paul writes that Onesimus was lost for only a little while so that Philemon could have him back forever. The forever that is mentioned is not talking about the return of Onesimus to the position of servant to Philemon, for him to serve forever. The forever mentioned is eternity. Onesimus was lost as a runaway for a little while, so that he could return to Philemon with eternal life. He left a slave to Philemon; he would return a slave to Christ.

In the past few months there have been a lot of deaths among family and friends. Whenever someone is called home to the Lord, we grieve in our own ways as we have lost someone we love. We consider how we won’t be able to do something with someone who is now in heaven. We may recognize that one day we will see them again, but it is the today and tomorrow that we see and our loved one isn’t there. Those who have passed away may be lost for a little while, but we will have them back forever if they have put their faith in Christ Jesus.

Today, remember that it is through faith alone in Jesus Christ that we are saved. Remember, that the only way to the Father is through the Son. Remember, that there are people in your life right now that have not heard the Good News. They could be forever lost. Be intentional. Take the time to share the Gospel and to live it out. Pray that those who come along your path will be found forever.

“It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever.” – Philemon 1:15 [NLT]

 

Willing Consent

Notice that when Paul writes Philemon, he says he didn’t want to do anything without having Philemon’s consent. He wanted Philemon to help because it was something he was willing to do, not something that he was forced into doing. The Bible speaks about this desire and purposeful decision we make to do something, and it comes from the heart. We know that when we are giving, we are to not give reluctantly or because we are forced, but to give what is on our heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). If we are doing anything for God because we are forced to do it, or because we feel we should do it, but it is not in our heart to do it, that’s not being real with God. It’s also not what Jesus had in mind when He spoke of discipleship.

Paul wanted Philemon to make his own choice in the matter. If Philemon just did what Paul said because Paul told him to do it, it does not give the opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation. It also does not open the doors for what God had for all parties involved. It was important for this reconciliation to take place. It was important for there to be this opportunity to forgive and move forward. It was a great moment for growth if he was willing to respond.

Today, consider what you are doing because you truly want to do it, and what you are doing because you feel you are supposed to do it or your family/friend/parent/boss is making you do it. If it is not something on your heart, if it is not something you give your willing consent, it is just going through the motions. It’s not being transparent or truthful. If you are not willing, talk to God about it. Ask Him why not. At the end of the day, you have the opportunity to give consent for God to move mightily in your life, just as you also have the opportunity to keep yourself self-centered. It’s always either Thy will be done or my will be done. You decide.

“But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced.” – Philemon 1:14 [NLT]

Be Useful

Something that I have been thinking about a lot is usefulness. There are moments when we have items in our home that are not useful to us. Sometimes we have apps on our devices that are not useful. Maybe at a time they seemed useful, but things have changed. But usefulness isn’t only something we consider as objects or possessions. People can be useful or not useful too.

Paul was writing to Philemon about the runaway servant Onesimus. He tells Philemon about this change that has occurred. Yes, Onesimus was deserving of punishment, which could have meant a death sentence. It was within the legal limits. But Paul mentions this great conversion of Onesimus. Not only did he give his life to Jesus, but in doing so, he became useful. In saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done,” he became useful. God had big plans for Onesimus!

If someone would consider your usefulness, what would they say? Would they describe you as very useful? Do you think you are very useful? Or is something getting in the way? That something could even be you! Truth be told, you have a great purpose. God has known this since the very beginning. It is a purpose that I pray you embrace and pour yourself into as an offering. Aim today to come to terms with this usefulness, and if the Spirit convicts you, follow His leading. It is a very dangerous prayer to say, “Use me.” Yet is a prayer than can help position you for what God has already prepared. Be useful. Plant for a good harvest.

“Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us.” – Philemon 1:11 [NLT]

Philemon Study: True Forgiveness

[Philemon]

  • Paul wrote letter to Philemon while he was in jail.
  • Philemon’s house may be where the Colossian church met (v. 2).
  • Philemon had a slave Onesimus (v. 16).
  • Onesimus means “useful” or “beneficial.”
  • Onesimus was useless to Philemon – slave who stole money and ran away.
  • Paul converted Onesimus.
  • Onesimus is now useful to Philemon and Paul. (v. 11).
  • Though Onesimus was helping Paul while he was imprisoned, Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon with this letter to appeal for forgiveness for Onesimus. Roman law required this to happen.
  • Philemon owes Paul his life – his very soul— salvation in Christ (v. 19)
  • Paul asks Philemon to charge all that is owed by Onesimus to his (Paul’s) account (v. 18). He offered to pay for Onesimus’ sins against Philemon.

Friendship – Forgiveness – Reconciliation

Ephesians 4:32 – Forgive as you have been forgiven

Forgiveness comes through Jesus. Through Christ alone we have forgiveness and reconciliation to God. Reconciliation means “coexist in harmony” or “restore friendly relations.” We only have the ability to forgive others because of the Holy Spirit.

Forgiveness has a cost. Paul offered to pay the cost. Onesimus could have been punished – even with death. Our cost for forgiveness was paid by Jesus Christ.

Forgiveness is always necessary. Paul asks Philemon to do the right thing. He could have punished Onesimus or he could forgive him and receive him as a partner. The word used means “fellowship.”

Forgiveness from God lasts forever. When we are transformed, becoming a “new creature” in Christ, the Spirit changes us from the inside out – just like Onesimus. This is forgiveness and transformation that lasts forever. The board is wiped clean.

Bible Study Questions:

1) Paul mentions in verse 14 that he preferred to do nothing without consent in order that Philemon’s (fih-LEE-muhn) goodness be of his “own accord.” What does this mean?

2) Paul wrote in verse 21 that he was confident of Philemon’s obedience. How could he be so confident that Philemon would forgive and do even more than asked?

3) Forgiveness, Paul notes, will take Onesimus (o-NEH-sih-muhs) from position of bondservant to beloved brother. Was he asking for Philemon to free his slave Onesimus or does this beloved brother mean something else?

4) Read Colossians 4:7-9. Onesimus was sent along with Tychicus (TIH-kih-kuhs).

How was he described?

Why do you think Paul had Onesimus go along with Tychicus to deliver the Letter to the Colossians as well as the      Letter to Philemon?

 

This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Colossians. The 12 weeks include:

Gospel Truth
Will of God
Lord of All
Ministry to Maturity
Foolish Philosophies
Men of Rules
Realities of Heaven
Taking Responsibility
Godly Living
Worship Work
Good Words
True Forgiveness