One wonderful little, New Testament book is a treasure trove of appeals to making right decisions! Similar to OT book of Proverbs, Philemon offers about a dozen reasons for complying with the apostle Paul’s request. How many encouragements can you find by reading Philemon?
Paul has led an escaped slave, Onesimus to Jesus. Paul now writes the new convert’s slave owner, Philemon. Paul writes to ask Philemon to receive Onesimus back in good standing. Paul appeals several ways. Philemon actually holds the future and even life of this runaway salve in his hands. Much is on the line if Oneismus returns to his master.
- Paul “makes mention of you in my prayers” (v-4). This infers Philemon’s importance to the apostle Paul.
- “I hear of your love” (v5); affirms his loving behavior and his good reputation.
- “and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective . . . ” (v6). God blesses right acts.
- “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother” (v7). Paul reminds him of his ministry of refreshing others. He has a track record.
- As Paul reminds him of his confidence as church head to order Philemon to receive him back but is rather requesting it (v8).
- Paul says he is ‘aged.” (v9)–to me, this reminds him of Paul’s years of experience and presumed wisdom in such matters.
- Paul is a “prisoner of Christ Jesus” (v9). Writing from prison, Paul can identify with the chains of this slave–Paul implies his empathy.
- the former slave will be more useful than before (v11). Onesimus different, improved! I have helped you.