The letter of Paul to his friend, Philemon, is one of the shortest books in the Bible—only 25 verses long. But it contains a powerful message that remains important and relevant right down to our present time: that nothing should hinder true reconciliation and brotherhood.
The book of Philemon is one of the shortest books in the Bible—only 25 verses long.
The occasion for this letter is that Philemon had a slave named Onesimus, who had stolen from him and run away to Rome, where he encountered the Apostle Paul. Paul led Onesimus to Christ, discipling him in the faith and learning about the circumstances that had brought him to Rome. So, Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon to make things right. In the letter that accompanied his return, Paul called upon Philemon to extend to Onesimus the same forgiveness that Christ had given to him.
Then Paul went further, not only calling for reconciliation, but also a recognition of their changed relationship—that Onesimus was now a brother in Christ. His words are a reminder that forgiveness is prerequisite to reconciliation, and reconciliation is the foundation of restoration. Paul called on Philemon to see him “no longer as a slave, but more than a slave–a beloved brother” (vs. 16).
Paul called on Philemon to see him “no longer as a slave, but more than a slave–a beloved brother” (vs. 16).
The message of Philemon is desperately needed in our day of division and strife. As believers, we need to be kingdom agents of forgiveness and reconciliation in each other’s lives and in the world.
Here’s a short video that highlights five key themes in the book of Philemon. May you be blessed by it!