Study Guide – Philemon 1:8-16

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Paul starts off with a pretty strong appeal. Who is Paul appealing for and why?

Why do you think Paul wants this to be Onesimus’ own decision and not something done because Paul is twisting his arm?

Paul wants Onesimus to do this out of love and not out of obligation…and yet Paul is certainly doing some arm twisting in this letter! Paul is making a big appeal here. Something like… “I am old…you wouldn’t want to spite an old man would you? Onesimus is like a son to me…surely you would take back someone I consider a son. I have the right to order you but I wouldn’t do that! No…instead do it because you are supposed to love others.” Paul is really putting the pressure on Philemon to do the right thing.

Your Bible probably has a footnote by Onesimus’ name…What does it say his name means in Greek? Notice the play on words Paul uses with that in verse 11.

What arm twisting does Paul do in verses 12-16?

In verse 16 Paul brings it all into perspective. While Onesimus is a slave the reality is something much bigger and more important than that…What does Paul mention about Onesimus in verse 16 that will basically force Philemon to do the right thing?

The take home point in these verses for us is about reconciliation toward those who have done us wrong. Are there people in your life whom you have never forgiven or “taken back”? If so, why? How do Paul’s words in this letter remind you just how important it is to not hold things against people?

How can we, like Paul, still see people who have messed up as “dear to us” again?

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