Mighty Men Of God [9]: Philemon Compassionate Companion


Read: Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, Phil 1:1

Examine: For more than two years during his third missionary journey, Paul ministered in Asia Minor among the people of Ephesus. This was a successful period for the apostle to the Gentiles, who saw many converts among both residents of Ephesus and visitors to the city. One of the visitors converted under Paul’s teaching was a man named Philemon, from the nearby city of Colossae (Philemon 1:19).

Philemon was a first-century Christian who also hosted a church in his home, most likely in Colossae. His name means “affectionate” in Greek, and, from all we know about Philemon, he lived up to his name. The only mention of Philemon in the Bible is in the book by that name. The book of Philemon is a personal letter from the apostle Paul to his friend Philemon whom he calls a “dear friend and fellow worker” (Philemon 1:1).

In the book of Philemon, Paul appeals to his friend on behalf of a runaway slave named Onesimus. Onesimus had somehow connected with Paul, who was imprisoned in Rome. Onesimus became a believer, but, because he was the property of Philemon, Paul sent him back to his owner with a letter.

Paul gently reminds Philemon that Onesimus is now a brother in Christ and that truth should now define the relationship. It is probable that Philemon freed his returned slave, as he heeded Paul’s instruction that, under the covenant of grace, both master and slave have equal standing in the body of Christ.

Application: Through Paul’s heartfelt appeal and surely Philemon’s accepted Onesimus, that’s why we have this book in the Bible, there would have been pressure from society to get Onesimus punished, but still love of Christ changed everything, we learn the following about Philemon:
• he hosted a church in his home, along with “Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier” (Philemon 1:2). These were probably Philemon’s wife and son.

  • he regularly prayed for Paul and his ministry.
  • he loved the church and its people.
  • he would most likely do more than Paul asked in receiving Onesimus back with grace.
    • he had a guest room in his home where Paul was welcome to stay.

Decision: Oh Lord, help me to be like Philemon who had a strong relationship with  Paul with clearly warm and respectful. Paul is comfortable enough with the friendship to gently remind his friend that Philemon owed Paul his “very self” for introducing him to Jesus (Philemon 1:19). Paul was confident that his words would be heeded and exceeded by Philemon because he had a strong connection with this man (Philemon 1:21).

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