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  Bro. Tom’s Weekly Bible Study
  Week #5
Posted: March 16,2008


I have looked at the theme in this great story of the salvation of a runaway slave to be, “Put That On Mine Account”.  The story has been told in the form of a letter to Philemon, the slave master, to ask him to receive Onesimus back as he would if he were Paul himself.

            In verses 20-25 the text says, “Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord. Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say. But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you. There salute thee Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristharchus, Damas, Lucas, my fellow labourers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”

            In verse 20 Paul uses the authority of a “Reminder”.  He promotes the phrase ‘In the Lord’ two times.  The reminder to Philemon was not what he thought about receiving a slave back or what Paul thought, or even fellow slave owners, but what should one do to magnify their position ‘In the Lord’.

            Paul also used the authority of ‘Refreshment’ in verses 20-21.  The word ‘joy’ in verse 20 means to bring great gratification or pleasure to another.  The word ‘refresh’ means a position of rest.  Paul is asking Philemon not to add more burdens to his already heavy heart.  He is asking Philemon to put his heart at rest in this situation.  He says I have confidence in you that you will do even more than I have asked.  The question would be what could he possibly do more than receive Onesimus.  The ultimate act of Christ likeness would be to adopt him and move him from a servant to a son.  It was certainly true of the act of redemption when Christ put my sins on His account, adopted me and moved me from a slave of sin to a Son of God.  I am now a joint heir with Christ. Oh, what refreshment this thought brings to my own soul.

            In verse 22 Paul mentions the authority of “Residence”.  Paul encourages Philemon to prepare a lodging for he hopes, that through the prayers of Philemon, to come to him shortly.  He is appealing to Philemon as a man of prayer.  How this would soften the heart for this appeal.  When one knows that he must face another it is hard to deny a request.  It is very easy to tell some one ‘No’ if you know you will never see them again.  This certainly is a detriment to us living in any kind of sin because we will have to one day see our Lord face to face and give an account of all we have done.

            In verses 23-24 we find Paul uses the authority of  ‘Responsibility’. Paul mentions Epaphras, the Pastor of the church at Colosse, who is now a ‘fellow prisoner’ with Paul.  Surely Philemon would know that Onesimus has spoken to him while in Rome.  Philemon would not want to disappoint the man of God.  Paul mentions Marcus (author of the Gospel of Mark), Atistharchus, Demas and Lucas, (author of the Luke’s Gospel) as his fellow labourers.   There is great responsibility to the cloud of witnesses that watch over decisions and their affect upon the work of God.

            Last of all Paul gives the authority of ‘Reason’ in verse 25.  Paul calls on the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to be imparted to Philemon’s spirit.  The word ‘grace’ means the power and ability to do and be all that God desires.  The title ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ is his title of authority as Prophet, Priest, and King.  Paul closes the letter with the word ‘Amen’ which means ‘let it be so’.  How I thank the Lord for putting my sin on His account and declaring me His very own child.  How do you think Philemon responded? It sure would be hard to say ‘No’ to such a letter.