Philemon: 355 Words
The shortest and most personal letter that Paul wrote in the New Testament was the book of Philemon. And when you read Philemon you are reminded that the word “epistle” is just a fancy word for letter. In this letter we see a loving mentor reaching out to his friend and coworker and it is almost awkward because of the way that Paul pours his heart out to Philemon.
The occasion for the letter is that Paul has led to Christ a runaway slave that just happens to belong to his friend Philemon. This is truly providential. I mean what are the odds of an escaped fugitive running into one of his owner’s friends 1200 miles away? As unlikely as it sounds this is the extent to which God goes to save people. Paul tells this to Philemon in verse 15, “perhaps this is why he was parted from you.”
So what can we learn from this personal correspondence?
First, we need to cultivate a testimony of love. Paul is writing from prison a world away and he continues to hear of Philemon’s love for other believers. And not only that but he characterizes Philemon by saying, “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” Could you imagine if that was said about you?
Secondly, we must realize that we have been created for more. It’s important for us to remember that Onesimus was a slave, owned by another person, but Paul chose to focus on the fact that he was a child of God. He was runaway a slave, but he is returning as a brother in Christ. This is what is most important.
Thirdly, we must look to Jesus to stay faithful. Tucked into the closing is a mention of Demas. The next time we hear about Demas, Paul says that he deserted him because he was in love with the present world. We need to be watchful, for without the grace of God we too would fall away.