Please pardon my tardiness. My intention was to post this introduction to the study of the Book of Philemon last week. Then, I had the fortune of receiving the flu. To be clear, I did not “get” the flu. To “get” suggests that deliberate action was taken in order to obtain something. No such action was taken. Instead, I received the flu. It is unclear whom I received it from. Whomever it was, thanks, I pray that your your tax returns will be delayed and your toe nails will thicken to the point of being untrimmable. There. Did I mention the Book of Philemon is about forgiveness? Oops.
After spending two and a half days in bed impersonating a tranquilized, but shivering, 182 pound sloth, I now am getting back to semi-normal, or at least as normal as I was to begin with.
So, all of that to say, my apologies for the post being a few days behind schedule.
Even though the Book of Philemon is only one chapter with 25 verses — it’s body of water might be short in width, but it is great in depth — it contains plenty of lessons and truths that will take us the rest of the month to examine.
You won’t be surprised if we take an odd route into it, will you? So, let’s clear the path with this thought: How do we see and know Jesus through this book. Our continual goal in studying God’s Word is to get to know Jesus better, and grow in our relationship with HIm. Remember that having eternal life is knowing Jesus and God the Father.
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. – John 17:3
The word for “know” in John 17:3 means to have an intimate relationship with someone, not just an acquaintance.
Jeremiah also points out the importance of knowing God, not just knowing about Him.
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” – Jeremiah 9:23-24
In sum, we will study the book of Philemon to get to know Jesus better and become more like Him.
On to Philemon. Below is a suggested outline to aid in your reading:
- Paul’s Greeting – verses 1-3
- Forgiveness requires Christ-like character. 4-7
- Forgiveness requires Christ-like actions. 8-18
- Forgiveness requires Christ-like motives. 19-25
The outline shows us that forgiveness is a critical theme in this book. It is, and it will astound you.
Verses 15-16 are key verses in Philemon. They show God’s providence, grace, and forgiveness!
For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother-especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. – Philemon 1:15-16
As a smart reader you already see how this book shows us glimpses of Jesus, and will help us to become more like Him.
Between now and Tuesday, please read Philemon a couple of times. On Tuesday, I will post some background information that will help sort out who the main characters are (Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus) and some context that will tie the ends together. Then, we will dig in.