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The Rescue (2 of 3)
We have considered the RUNAWAY, and now the RESCUE. Let us set the stage. Paul was in prison in Rome. He was chained 24 hours a day to the soldiers of the Praetorium guard, Caesar's soldiers. Every eight hours every day of the week he was chained, linked arm to arm to a special guard. At the end of the eight-hour shift the guards changed. In time he was linked up to every guard in Caesar's household. When Paul wrote the Philippians, he closed the letter by saying (4:22), "All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household." Paul was picking those guys off one by one as they were chained to him eight hours at a time. You talk about a chain reaction, he had it. Paul had learned in whatever state he was in to be content and also to take advantage of every opportunity that was afforded him. By the beginning of the 3rd Century 25% of the Roman Empire was born again. But that is another story for another time.
Paul's friend, Philemon, who he had led to Christ himself, possibly at Ephesus, was no doubt the leading layman of the church in Colosse. The church met in his house. His slave, Onesimus, had run away, and he had no idea where he might be.
Epaphras, the pastor of these three small churches in the Lycus Valley, Colosse, Laodecia, and Hireapolis had gone to Rome to see Paul, and he got locked away in prison too. Verse 23 ... "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ, greets you." How this came about, we don't know. There was plenty of persecution against the church and against Christians.
Onesimus, the slave of Philemon, when he ran away, headed for Rome. We covered this in detail last week in the first message, "The Runaway." It is a miracle that Onesimus made that 1100 mile journey without being arrested, but by God's grace he made it. So here is this poor slave roaming around in Rome and somehow he meets Paul and wouldn't you know it, like the soldiers in the Praetorium guard, he ...
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