This is another of Paulís epistles. It was probably written about 64 A.D. The theme concerns one by the name of Onesimus who was a runaway slave from Philemon, a believer at Colosse, whom he also had robbed. This man became a Christian through the ministry of Paul who sent him back to his master with this letter.
The epistle is of real value in that it teaches:
1. Practical righteousness.
2. Christian brotherhood.
3. Christian courtesy.
4. The law of love.
The divisions of the letter are two in number:
1. Vs. 1-7. The character of Philemon.
2. Vs. 8-21. Solicitation for Onesimus.
THE CHARACTER OF PHILEMON.
We are reminded again in Paulís words of greeting that he was sustained in his days of imprisonment by the fact that he was not the mere victim of manís fancy, but the prisoner of Jesus Christ. To see trouble in such a light gives the peace which Ēpasseth understandingĒ.
Philemon was a man of stable character, who was evidently known for communicating his faith, v.6. The apostle was about to ask a big favor and seemed happy to know he would get a generous response.
SOLICITATION FOR ONESIMUS.
Onesimus had been brought to the Lord through Paulís ministry while in prison, v.10. He had evidently done much for the apostle in kindly acts of ministry in temporal things, v.13. Now he must go back to his master and make amends for the wrongs he had committed. Paul asked that since the young man was concerted, Philemon would receive him back as a brother beloved, v.16. This would require an exercise of divine love, but the apostle depended on Philemon to so act. Paul was willing to pay for any of the past wrongs of Onesimus, for it was probable that he owed something for that which he had taken wrongfully in the past.
What a fine illustration the incident gives to us of the grace of Jesus Christ. He not only saves us from our sins, but is willing to meet any deficit we may have as a result of our past life. We can with confidence commit our way unto Him, and He will surely bring it to pass.