Philemon: Reconciliation & Experiencing All of Christ

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Philemon is about reconciliation and relationships between Christians. Onesimus (which means “useful”) was a slave of a believer named Philemon in Colossae. Apparently Onesimus had stolen from Philemon and fled. At some time while Paul was under arrest, Onesimus met him and became a Christian. Paul apparently wrote this letter at the same time as Colossians and gave it to Onesimus to carry back to Philemon (see Col. 4:9). Paul appealed to Philemon to accept Onesimus back into his household, but as a brother in the Lord rather than a slave. In Paul’s estimation, Onesimus was far more “useful” (v. 11) now that he was a Christian. Paul even promised to pay whatever debt Onesimus might owe Philemon. (ESV Study Bible)

Key Verse: “…put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.” (V.6)
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Onesimus was a ___Slave___. His name means “useful.” (V. 11)

Paul calls himself & believers:

1. _Prisoner (of the Lord)

2. _Brother/Sister

3. _Coworker (Partner, co-laborer)

4. _Soldier (spiritual warfare)

5. _Church (called out ones, body of Christ)

6. _Child (son or daughter)

7. _Servant

To understand and experience ALL the good things we have in Christ, a believer MUST experience the above identities. It is not enough to know about them.

Illustrations:

  • Bookish knowledge of a surgeon
  • Vows in Marriage
  • Knowing people at church
  • The “knowledge-oriented discipleship” vs. the loving, relational servant discipleship

CONTINUUM OF KNOWING GOD:

The purpose of being Christian is to change into Christ’s likeness. Are you being changed?

Resistant —> Indifferent —> Curious —> Strongly Questioning —> Seeking
 —> Accepting —> Hungry to Learn —> Identity in Christ (v.16) —> Walking in the Spirit —> Missional

LAST APPLICATIONS:

(v.6) Love doesn’t demand–even things that are known to be right. Love offers and asks.

(V.15) Christians see the greater purposes of God in all of life.

(V.18-19) Christians bear each others’ costs, and forgive completely.

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