In my reading 10 chapters a day in the Bible I ran across Philemon. I wonder why it was included? It seems intensely personal with many of the same sentiments of other letters in the NT. Am I missing something original about it? Thank you
I can see a couple possible reasons for its inclusion. First, unlike some other Pauline epistles, its authorship has rarely been questioned, and authenticity carries a lot of weight. Second, while other letters speak of equality in Christ, they do so far more theoretically. In Philemon, we have a real-life case of a slave (the lowest class in Roman society) who ran away (and possibly stole) from his master, then subsequently came to have faith in Christ and felt convicted for having wronged a fellow Christian. According to Roman law, Philemon was at full liberty to punish Onesimus as he saw fit, even to the point of execution. Paul, however, encourages Philemon to put what he has taught into practice and forgive Onesimus, treating him as a brother rather than living according to worldly standards. The fact that the letter was preserved suggests that Paul’s attempts were successful; thus, the letter displays a real example of Christians living according to the standards Christ taught.
This is so helpful and with it in mind, I will return to it and re-read it. Nicely explained thank you
To the already great answer here is a link to an essay on NT Wright’s use of Philemon as an introduction to his book Paul and the Faithfulness of God. Would be very interested in your thoughts and whether or not you agree with his conclusion. Was this radical or just application?
@plantaseed Last week’s sermon from a Church I used to attend and enjoy listening to (Pastor is great) was on Philemon and entitled “When Relationships Need Repairing”. He suggests it is possible Onesimus became the bishop of Ephesus and may have encouraged the inclusion of the letter in Scripture because of its Gospel message of reconciliation. Check out message below
What a stunning reply Micah!
I’ve done a fairly detailed study of Philemon as part of a bible study and the richness of the text is absolutely immense. Your summary is sowell written and consice, if you would allow me I’m going to include that in future teachings.
@Choep82 Of course, and thank you.