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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Paul's letter to Philemon

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Frameworks: Philemon

 

(The objective of these ‘Frameworks' is to provide an easy-to-read layout of the text in order then to use these individual verses for verse-by-verse study or meditation. To focus each verse we have also added in italic a simple comment of what is happening)

 

v.1-3 Greetings
v.4-7 Thanksgiving and Prayer
v.8-18 Paul's Plea for Onesimus
v.19-25 Final Matters

 

v.1-3 Greetings

 

v.1,2 (Paul from prison top his old friend Philemon) Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:

v.3 (may God bless you all) Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

v.4-7 Thanksgiving and Prayer

 

v.4,5 (your reputation for faith and love releases thanks whenever he prays for them) I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus.

v.6 (he prays their understanding of the faith will be deepened) I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.

v.7 (his love has blessed so many people) Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people.

 

v.8-18 Paul's Plea for Onesimus

 

v.8-10 (Paul has a request – it could be an order but he prefers it be a request) Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, [Onesimus means ‘useful'] who became my son while I was in chains.

v.11 (it is to do with Onesimus, who he now views as his son) Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

v.12 (with a full heart he is sending hi m back to Philemon) I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you.

v.13 (he would have liked him to stay to help him while in prison) I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel.

v.14 (but he wants his old friend's approval) But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary.

v.15,16 (I know he was a runaway slave but now he has come to Christ I hope you will see him as a brother who is very dear to me) Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

v.17 (so, my partner in the gospel, I hope you can receive him back as you would receive me) So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.

v.18 (if he owes you anything, charge it to me) If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.

 

v.19-25 Final Matters

 

v.19 (perhaps we shouldn't talk of the debts owed) I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self.

v.20 (but I do want something of value from you now) I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.

v.21 (I am sure you will do this) Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.

v.22 (and get ready to receive me when I am released) And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

v.23,24 (others you also know here send their greetings) Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.

v.25 (so may God's grace be yours) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

 

 

Notes: There are various things that arise in this simple little letter:

1. The change in Onesimus and its effect on how he may be viewed

2. The debt Philemon owes Paul

3. The whole subject of slavery

 

1. Onesimus: he was originally a slave and although technically he is still ‘owned' by Philemon, Paul makes the case for him to now be considered a brother in Christ which should completely change the way Philemon views him.

2. Philemon's debt: Paul clearly thinks that Philemon ‘owes him' for having brought the gospel to him and him having had his life changed for the better.

3. Slavery: to fully understand how slavery fits our understanding, rather than make limited comments here we recommend you go to Appendix 3 all about slavery, in the section of this site entitled, “God is not Great – An Appraisal”