1:17 – In other words, if you don’t take him back…don’t consider me a partner any more? Wow Paul…that is some strong language. It shows you just how strongly Paul feels about Philemon making the right decision on this matter.
Have you ever stood up for someone or stepped into a situation to try to make things right? What happened and what did you learn from it?
What potential barrier or roadblock does Paul attempt to alleviate in the reconciliation of Philemon and Onesimus?
It sounds like Paul converted both Philemon (1:19) and Onesimus (1:10). That gives Paul a very special relationship with both of them and makes him the perfect person to help make this situation right again. Do you think you have played a pivotal role in certain relationships in your life? How can God use you to bring a godly influence on the people and relationships around you?
If all that wasn’t enough Paul concludes with more words about what Philemon ought to do and his confidence Philemon will do the right thing. It sounds like Paul really knows Philemon. He knows him well enough to know just how far to push the envelope with him to make things right. What is interesting is usually we think of the person who messes up as the one who needs to make it right. But here Paul is stressing the one who has been wronged, Philemon, as the one who needs to take steps to make this right. This is probably because of Philemon’s superior social status to Onesimus and that it would make more sense for the superior to bear with those under them than for the slave to initiate reconciliation with his mater. However, Paul reminds them both that they are brothers in the matter…far more than master and slave.
It is important for us all to remember that while by earthly standards people in certain positions are treated in certain ways that is not true in Christ. We treat everyone the same and don’t elevate some and devalue others. All are equal valuable in Christ’s eyes and so they are to us as well.
1:22 – One last little shot by Paul…oh yeah, I intend to visit you soon too. In other words, if you don’t work this out I will know about it when I get there!
1:23 – Why does grace play a key role in all that is going on in this book? How do you need to have more grace for those around you?