Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Mining the Scriptures: Philemon 12-17


The appropriate response of Philemon to Paul’s petition on behalf of the slave Onesimus would be to receive him back, and treat him as a brother in Christ. Paul encouraged him to receive him, “that is, my own heart” (12); and “as you would me” (17).

Further, Paul’s purpose was to have Philemon act out of good will rather than necessity. This is a common theme in scripture. God does not want his children to act appropriately merely out of necessity. He wants his children to do so out of a sense of right, and willingly.

Finally, Paul appealed to the possibility of divine providence in the actions of Onesimus. Paul didn’t deny that the slave was wrong in running away, but believed that God has used that as an opportunity for the man to be taught the truth: “perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever” (15).

The relationship of Onesimus to Philemon had now changed. They were brothers in Christ. Such a relationship demands fraternal devotion and a recognition of common heritage and equality (cf. Galatians 3:28).