HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Sorry for the late posting I have been out of town
Philemon is the shortest of Paul’s letters. It is a personal note written to a personal friend concerning a private matter. At the time this letter was written there were sixty million slaves in the Roman Empire. Slavery was an important aspect of Rome’s social and economic structure. Runaway slaves threatened to undermine this structure so runaways were considered as criminals. This letter deals with one of Philemon’s runaway slave that was now a Christian. Read this book daily this week from several translations if possible and see what we can learn.
MONDAY: Paul wrote this note to Philemon. What qualities in Philemon does Paul commend (vs. 1-7)? What does Paul say Philemon has refreshed? Who do you know that has “refreshed your heart”? How have they done that? Call them or write them a note thanking them for the encouragement they have given you.
TUESDAY: Roman slavery, though just as evil as any type of slavery, was not a permanent condition based on race. Slaves could purchase their freedom. Some wander why Paul did not use this occasion to condemn slavery. One reason was that conditions were not right for such a massive social upheaval. However, Paul did “fire the first shot” in the war for freedom by teaching Christians slaves and owners on how to relate. Read verse 16 of Philemon, Galatians 3:26-28, and Colossians 3:11. What lesson does Paul teach? Read Colossians 3:22-25 and Ephesians 6:5-9. Using the “employee/employer” relationship what does this teach you about how your attitude should be in the workplace or in any situation where you answer to or are in a position of authority?
WEDNESDAY: In Philemon 1:6, what does Paul pray for Philemon to share? How can sharing this help you to better understand, “every good thing we have in Christ Jesus”? Read Ephesians 1:1-14 can you list at least five good things we have in Christ? Pray for an unbeliever you would like to share Christ with. Look for an opportunity to do that this week.
THURSDAY: If Paul needs Onesimus, why does he send him back? What does he ask Philemon to do? On what basis does he make his appeal? Why would it be hard for Onesimus to return? Do you have someone you need to return to and “make right” a situation? Pray about it. Maybe you can find a “Paul” to help you make the right decision?
FRIDAY: One theme of this book is forgiveness. Read the following verses; Mark 11:25, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13, Romans 12:17-21. Write down three or things you learn about forgiveness. How does learning to forgive benefit you? How can holding grudges hurt you? Anyone you need to ask God to help you forgive? If you are having a hard time with forgiveness seek the advice and help of a mature Christian.
SATURDAY: Onesimus delivered this letter (Possibly along with Ephesians and Colossians) back to his home. Scripture does not record the out come of the story, but in AD 110, Ignatius of Antioch sent a letter to a church leader in Ephesus named Onesimus. Many scholars believe this was the same man. If so this book is a powerful demonstration on how Jesus can transform and use anyone, even a runaway slave. “Onesimus” means “useful”. Read verse 11 of Philemon. See the play on words Paul made. How has God made you “useful”? How can he use you to help others? Ask God to help make you more “useful” in his church. Also be a Philemon. Write a note to “refresh” someone this week.