Lord God Almighty, I'm Free at Last! . . .
"Stand therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)
The epistle to Philemon is an intensely personal letter from Paul to Philemon. It concerns the latter's runaway slave, Onesimus. Slavery was acceptable in the Imperial City. Over 1/3 of the slave population composed the labor force. Philemon was a wealthy man with a large house who was saved through Paul's preaching. Onesimus stole money and then ran away to Rome. God's grace led him to the Roman prison where Paul led him to Christ. Paul wrote this letter to Philemon to praise Philemon and his family, plea for Philemon to forgive Onesimus, and pledge to restore whatever the slave had stolen.
PRAISE. The writer identifies himself as "Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ" (See Philemon 1:1). This letter was written in a Roman prison along with Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. "Grace and peace" are typically "Pauline." Paul praised Philemon's love for Christ and the saints (See Philemon 1:4). The Colossian church met in Philemon's house, which one writer called "a Holiday Inn" for believers.
PLEA. Onesimus' name means profitable or useful. Paul reminded Philemon that in the past, Onesimus was useless to him. He stole money and ran away from his master, clear violations of the law. He was gloriously saved . . . and he ministered to Paul in prison. Paul praised Onesimus because he was "useful" to him in the ministry. Paul issued a plea to Philemon to accept the former slave as a brother in Christ, to grant him freedom, and to forgive his past.
PLEDGE. Paul reminded Philemon of the great debt he owed to God and also to Paul. This is one of the finest illustrations of forgiveness (and the word was never used), substitution, or imputation found in the Bible. If Onesimus owed anything, Paul told Philemon to "put it on my account and I will repay it" (See Philemon 1:7). Anticipating his freedom, Onesimus was probably singing,"Lord God Almighty, I'm free at last." Paul instructed Philemon to prepare the guest room. "I plan to come see you when I get out of this prison!" (See Philemon 1:22).
Historians claim this newly found freedom promoted Onesimus to pastor at Ephesus and then bishop of Ephesus. Bishop Onesimus was finally martyred by Emperor Trajan. This slave was free at last!
Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Education (Ret.)--Louisiana Tech University -- Ruston, Louisiana
Supply Minister for Concord/Union Baptist Association -- Ruston, Louisiana
eThoughts Team -- Extended Week-day Free Devotionals -- Vol. XIII, No. 05-40G -- Archived
Dr. Nelda Hughes Spinks, Professor Emerita -- Editor and Publisher
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Scripture is taken from THE NEW KING JAMES VERSION, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All Rights
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