###When - 60 - 61 AD
###Where - In Rome
1. Paul clearly writes as a prisoner in Philemon (1,9,10,23)3
2. Paul's imprisonment seems to be from the same location as that in Colossians:
a. Names: When one compares the names in Philemon 1,10,22-24 with those in Colossians 4:7-17 it becomes evident that they were written from the same location: 1) Epaphras 2) Mark 3) Aristarchus 4) Archippus 5) Demas 6) Luke 7) Onesimus 8) Paul and Timothy Acts supports Luke's presence in Rome with Paul (the "we" sections; Acts 27:2ff)
Paul was under house-arrest in Rome which would have allowed him visitors such as co-workers and Onesimus
The imperial capital would have allowed the run-away slave Onesimus to seek anonymity and then asylum in Paul's presence there
Travel between Rome and the east was frequent and not too formidable a task to make the communications between the prison epistles possible
It is very probable that Aristarchus accompanied Paul to Rome (Acts 27:2; cf. Col. 4:10) and thus shared in his imprisonment
###Who is it written to - READ PHILEMON 1-3
- Philemon [Apphia, Archippus, and the church in Philemon's house] Apphia, Archippus, and the church in Philemon's house
a. Apphia the sister (who may have been Philemon's wife) [Phil. 2]
b. Archippus the fellow-soldier (who may have been the son of Philemon and Apphia) [Phil. 2]
c. The community assembled in Philemon's house (Phil. 2)18
READ PHILEMON 4-7 - these verses show that Philemon is a good christian doing that which is pleasing to God
###Why was this letter written -
A slave named Onesimus from Colossae wronged his Christian owner Philemon (and then ran off (or by running off) Onesimus then somehow came into contact with Paul in prison15 Paul took an interest in him, Onesimus was converted to Christianity, and ministered to Paul Paul returned Onesimus to his master in Colossae in accordance with Roman law and Christian fellowship with a letter requesting Philemon to receive Onesimus as a beloved brother in the Lord (10,16), perhaps with the hope that Philemon will return Onesimus to him for ministry
v8 - The apostle Paul could have commanded him to take him back, but has chosen a different appraoch because he is good.
v9 - NOW - indicates that the letter is written when he is just starting his house arrest in Rome
v10 - for my son - very personal terms showing a relationship. begotten - speaking of his baptism and conversion
Onesimus was the slave of Philemon. When we think of a slave we think of the times in our nations history when slaves were brought over from Africa NOT BY CHOICE and FORCED to labor for their owners.
What we are speaking of here is more acuretaly called a bond servant - Eph.6:5-9. An example of this would be if owed someone a debt that I could not repay, then I would work off my debt by laboring in their household.
Philemon being a christian would give His slaves the Sabbath off since that is part of the fourth commandment - Ex.20:10
v11- he is speaking church wise - remember that Onesimus was not a baptized member until he met up with Paul - certainly he was exposed to God's way of life on a daily basis, but did not act on it till Paul helped him.
v12- in effect Paul is saying to receive him whole heartedly -- with all of my heart.
v13 - He is a good kid who I wish I could keep longer, he could do a lot of good for me in God's service
v14- Paul did not want to keep him without the masters permission - the hint / hope is that Philemon will send him back volentarily to help Paul.
v15- Maybe God had a hand in his departure from you for a reason.
v16- He left as a slave (bondservant) and returns as a brother in Christ. This is a great lesson of forgiveness and grace. You have this bondservant who has run away and NOT fulfilled his commitments to Philemon. By Roman law he had the right to deal with this slave in a way of his choosing. In every way he deserves what ever is coming to him, but do you show forgivenesss, do you show unmerited favor and pardon, especially when you find out he is a brother in Christ?
TURN TO Colossians 4:7-9 Tychicus was entrusted with the letter with Onesimus as a companion; this Onesimus is the same one of Philemon. So basically Onesimus is going to show up at church in colossae one Sabbath and here I am and tychicus has a letter from the apostle Paul for you. Just imagine if you were Philemon - What would you do? Imagine you were Onesimus - how you be feeling? We have all been him before - when we sin and go before God in prayer to repent. Knowing that we deserve death, yet able to call upon the death of Jesus Christ as a sin offering, a substitute for us.
v17- Paul has very clearly laid it on thick - he kept his word of v8 and v9 that he was not going to command him to take him back. But now what choice is Philemon left with?
v18 - 19 - Paul talks of how goes around appointing and ordaining elders in his travels. Perhaps Paul has personally appointed or ordained Philemon to be a leader in this church. Paul using his own handrighting - someting perhaps Philemon has seen before in a letter that has been read to the church - gives authenticy to the letter in Philemons mind.
20 - 22 - Would Philemon have any doubt in his mind as to what Paul wants him to do. What choice is he left with? He can either accpect him back, now as a brother in Christ all paid up OR he can reject him and have word get back to Paul, who by the way has asked him to prepare a room for when he gets out. Can you imagine what a butt-chewing that would be?
v23-25 - show once again it was written in Rome ( Acts 27:2 - the word we includes Luke and it is under the heading voyage to Rome. Philemon says Paul is a prisoner - in chains for Christ.)
###What lessons can we draw from this book in closing? -
To provide a concrete opportunity/example of what it means to sacrificially love/forgive as Christ has loved/forgiven believers Luke 23:34
To provide a concrete example of substitutionary forgiveness (18) Heb.9:28
To emphasize the nature of redemption as God makes that which is "useless" to be "useful" again. Rom.8:6-9
###HOW was this accomplised? -
By asking Philemon of Colossae to not only pardon his slave Onesimus, but to give him a warm welcome as a fellow believer AS IF HE WERE WELCOMING PAUL HIMSELF!!!