Philemon

Authorship

Paul (1,9,19), from Roman prison, probably AD 61-62.

Audience

Philemon, a slave owner.

Setting

Onesimus (a slave) ran away from and defrauded his master Philemon. Paul converted Onesimus, sends him back to Philemon, and yet explains how useful Onesimus has been in evangelism efforts.

Purpose

Paul promises to pay Onesimus’ debt and gently instructs Philemon to forgive this slave and see him as a brother. He makes his appeal by the gospel, not apostolic authority.

How to Read it

Picture yourself in the room with the assembled church and the appearance of Onesimus as these words are read. Onesimus is facing probable crucifixion, the church is having their concept of grace stretched to new limits, and Philemon is in the middle of it all with a weighty decision that will set the town. The fact that this letter is preserved indicates that it went over well!

Key Expert

Read 8-9a, 15-16a

Remember…

The reframing of slavery presented here will help believers reframe a variety of social norms.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s