Philemon 12-25

Philemon 12-25 … These are the final words of the personal letter to Philemon. Beginning with verse 12, the letter is focused on the runaway slave Onesimus, clearly acknowledging his “uselessness,” but claiming that now, he has become useful, not only to Philemon, but also to Paul, so much so that Paul really wanted to keep Onesimus with him. Paul’s appeal begins in verse 14, diplomatically indicating that Philemon might demonstrate his goodness through compassion toward Onesimus and suggesting that the providence of God may have been involved in the Onesimus’ desertion so that, when reunited, the bond of service would be useful and permanent (v.15), not as a slave but as a brother in Christ. The clincher in the appeal is verse 17 … “welcome him as you would welcome me,” which is the exact standing that Christian believers have before God who accepts us as He would Christ because Christ has taken our sinfulness and given us His righteousness.

The argument continues in verse 18, again picturing a type of Christ, saying of Onesimus’ debt, “charge that to my account” (NASB). The letter closes with a personal appeal from Paul expressing confidence that Philemon will respond with love and affirmation. This is a wonderful little letter, historically revealing the heart of the Apostle Paul. But it’s even more valuable as a pointer to the grace of God in Christ Jesus, who is our advocate, who loves us despite our sins, and draws us to Himself in love so that we might receive life through Him in a relationship that will last forever (v.15).

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