October 29, 2017
Paul wrote a personal letter to Philemon on behalf of his runaway slave, Onesimus, who may have also stolen from his master (v.18). Under Roman law, a slave was property and could be executed for such. Yet, Paul, who wrote from a Roman prison, had led Onesimus to faith in Christ and now called him a “son.” He sent the letter to let Philemon know of this and also that he was sending Onesimus home to him. Paul pled with Philemon, who he had also led to faith (v.19), to accept Onesimus back, not as a slave, but as a “beloved brother” (v.16). This is the new way of Christ on exhibit, that master and slave would become as brothers. This is the grace of Christ that brings forgiveness and reconciliation to every relationship. Surely, Onesimus would have been fearful of returning to Philemon, but Paul knew it was the only way that he could be truly free.