Philemon: Hope for Wayward Slaves (20 of 32) by Stan Coffey

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Philemon: Hope for Wayward Slaves (20 of 32)
Series: Through the Bible Survey
Stan Coffey

INTRODUCTION: This brief note was written at the same time as the epistle to the Colossians and sent to the same town by the hand of the same man. The Phrygian city of Colossae was located a few miles from Laodicea on the great trade route between Ephesus and the Euphrates. The church at Colossae was not founded by Paul nor is there any evidence that he ever preached in any of the cities in the Lycus Valley. The city was probably evangelized from Ephesus (Acts 19:10). Among its prominent church members were Epaphras, Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, and later the slave Onesiums. The letter to Philemon concerns Onesimus. Philemon was a close friend of Paul's and probably had been led to Christ by him (v. 19-20). Philemon was a slave owner and probably well-to-do and of the upper class. Apphia appears to have been his wife, and Archipus, well-spoken of by Paul, seems to have been his son. Onesimus was one of his slaves and had fled from his master, stealing money to make his getaway and sinking himself at last in the great anonymous throngs of Rome. There he came under the influence of Paul, was converted and sent back to Philemon under cover of a brief note in which Paul bared his heart and struck a blow at slavery. As a runaway slave, Onesimus could expect scourging, mutilation, and either crucifixion of the arena, under Roman law. But Paul urged Philemon to exercise grace and treat his returned slave rather as ''a brother beloved.''' Philemon contains praise, a plea, and a pledge.


A. Paul's burden - A prisoner of Jesus Christ
B. Paul's blessings - He thanks and praises God for Philemon, a man of love and faith
C. Paul's concern - He tells Philemon he is praying for him and asking God to make his witness effective


A. Slavery in the Roman Empire

1. If a slave ran away ...

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