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Freedom in Fellowship

Philemon 1:1-2

Paul was in prison in Rome awaiting trial, but his heart was free. He was cared for by his young friend Timothy and allowed to write letters to the new churches.

The Grace of Forgiveness

Philemon 1:3

This is Paul's usual written greeting.  But, unlike many social pleasantries (in Britain we ask, ‘How do you do?’ but nobody expects an honest answer!) it really means something.  Paul knew that only the grace of God can bring peace.  That is the gospel message for which he was in prison, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  It was also his personal testimony for he admitted he was the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  If Jesus could save Paul, He can save anybody!  Nobody can have peace with God any other way (Romans 5:1).

Joyful Praying

Philemon 1:4-5

Christians ought to pray for each other. Paul's captivity allowed him even more time, and God used his prayers in the upbuilding of churches and people.

Spiritual Partnership

Philemon 1:6-7

Paul had not met Philemon before but knew about him from Epaphras, who planted the church in Colossae (Colossians 1:7) and was now a fellow prisoner (Philemon 1:23).  Philemon’s house then became the gathering place for the believers (Philemon 1:2).  In writing the letter to the Colossians, couriered by Tychicus and Onesimus, Philemon’s repentant runaway slave, Paul was entrusting Philemon with the spiritual responsibility of delivering God’s Word to the church.  Paul describes this as ‘partnership in the faith’.

Authority of Love

Philemon 1:8-11

Paul had God's authority to speak the truth. But he was careful in applying that authority in pastoral situations.

Loaned Not Owned

Philemon 1:12-14

Paul's love for those who helped him was big enough to let them go! So he sent Onesimus, the

Moving to Change

Philemon 1:15-16

God always has a purpose in all He does or allows: but only arrogant people assume they

Restoring the Penitent

Philemon 1:17-19

Repentance is essential for reconciliation. If there is no penitence, there can be no fellowship.

Restoration is Good for Everybody

Philemon 1:20-21

The gospel is all about restoring sinners, who repent, to fellowship with God and His people. Paul has seen the penitence of Onesimus, and observed his changed life.

Confident in the Lord's Goodness

Philemon 1:22

Although Paul was in prison because people did not like his faith in Jesus, he knew he had more work to do. What an act of faith to ask Philemon to prepare his guest room!