Philemon is a small book of the Bible, yet large in its meaning and truth. Tucked away in the New Testament between Titus and Hebrews, Philemon is a letter written by the apostle Paul to the church leader, Philemon.
As with all of Paul’s letters, he begins with a greeting, identifying himself as the author, along with Timothy. He then identifies to whom the letter is written (vs. 2).
Paul then continues this letter by expressing love and faith in Philemon. He was a leader in the church and actively shared with faith with others. It was this faith that Paul was hoping to draw from as his letter continued.
Philemon had a slave named Onesimus who had stolen from him and fled. In the ancient world, a slave who committed a crime against his owner was due severe punishment should he return. After Onesimus had fled, he ended up meeting Paul and learned about Christ through him. Paul refers to himself as Onesimus’ father because Paul directly shared Christ with him (vs. 10). In this letter, Paul is informing Philemon of the change in his slave’s heart. Onesimus is a new person, saved by the blood of Christ and transformed through His grace.
Onesimus’ name means, useful. In verse 11, Paul plays on words by saying that while Onesimus was once useless, he is now useful.
It was through the work of Christ in His heart that Onesimus finally came to live out the meaning of his name.
Isn’t this true for all of us who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb? We are all Onesimi; all run aways from God. Prodigal children, having stolen from our Father, He waits eagerly for our return. Instead of severe punishment for running away, He greets us with grace. Because of Jesus’ death for us, we too have changed from useless to useful.
This little letter is the gospel in action. Hopefully these first eleven verses have given you a taste to learn more. Read the entire book and see if you can spot the story of redemption through out. Meditate on what it means for Christ to have changed you from useless to useful.
In this four week mini Bible Study you will examine your faith and what it means to have faith in God. When we believe in God we then learn to walk in faith and trust God. But first we must believe, and it’s up to us, we can either choose to believe in Him or not. But faith will mean nothing until we believe with all our heart that God is who He says He is.
5 STAR AMAZON REVIEW: “I really enjoyed this mini study. I like when things make you think and journal and you can focus on one aspect at a time. It was a great study.”