Today’s passage: Philemon 8-16
- Though Paul had the prerogative to give a command, he wanted Philemon to respond in willful love. He gave Philemon freedom to do the right thing.
- Before his conversion, Onesimus was a detriment to Philemon in earthly ways. As a new brother in Christ, Onesimus was now of great value in eternal ways.
- Onesimus’ name means, “Useful.” This was evidently a common name for slaves in that day.
- The kind of slave Onesimus was is not the same as the slavery in our nation’s history.
- The servant and the master were fully brothers in Christ. Equal in the eyes of God and each other.
Questions to consider:
- How might the book of Philemon have been useful in eliminating the use of slavery as a social construct? Not just based on race, but even also in an economic or social class kind of system which would have been the kind of slave Onesimus was?
- Why did Paul allow for Philemon to welcome Onesimus back by his own choice, in love? What was Paul allowing Philemon to do which he was also asking Philemon to allow Onesimus to do?
- In what way have we been set free from our bondage to sin in Christ? In what way should we see ourselves as slaves to Him and desire to be found, “useful?” (Romans 6:15-23)