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The Runaway (1 of 3)
Philemon is the shortest of Paul's letters, containing only 335 words in the original Greek text. It is divided into 25 verses in the English Bible. An average reader can read this letter in two minutes or less. So why is it going to take three weeks for me to preach it? That, my friends, is one of the marvels and miracles of preaching. A preacher can take more time to say less than any other creature under heaven.
The reason I want to preach this letter now is because of how it is tied in with Colossians, which we just finished. I trust you haven't forgotten. Turn with me to Colossians 4:7-18, which is the conclusion of the letter, and note the inner linking of the letters. Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians were all written by Paul from Rome at this same time. I am sure one of the reasons the Holy Spirit allowed Paul to stay in jail was so he would have time to write these letters. Looking at the evidence, we can conclude the letter was written in 61 or 62 A. D.
The main characters in the story are Philemon, who was a successful and faithful businessman in Colosse. The church there met in his home. Apphia, who most believe was the wife of Philemon, Archippus, who it is believed was their son and a fellow soldier for Christ in the city. Onesimus, who was the slave of Philemon and his household. Epaphras, who was the Pastor of the churches in Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse (Colossians 1:7; 4:12-13 ... "As you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf." ... "Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis." Evidently, he was in prison with Paul in Rome. (These three cities and churches were all within a few ...
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