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The Blue Letter Bible

Chuck Smith :: Study Guide for Philemon

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v.1 Paul calls himself "a prisoner of Jesus Christ," not a prisoner of Rome or of the emperor. The man who's a prisoner of Christ is free in every other way.

v.2 Apphia was probably Philemon's wife, and Archippus was probably his son. Philemon had a church that met in his home in Colosse. Apparently he was a wealthy man, because he had slaves. There were 60 million slaves in the world in those days. It seems inconsistent that a Christian man would own slaves.

v.5 Our love isn't a true love until it's directed toward all the saints.

v.7 Feelings in "the bowels" refer to deep, gut-level feelings.

v.8-9 "Convenient" means "right, fitting." Paul now considered himself aged. As a spiritual father to Philemon and an elder in the church, Paul could have ordered Philemon in this matter, but because of love he chose to make a request.

v.11 The name Onesimus means "profitable." Paul was word-playing with the name.

v.12 Paul asks that Philemon receive Onesimus kindly. The usual penalty for an escaped slave was death or branding with a hot iron to mark him as a fugitive.

v.13-14 Paul wanted very much to keep Onesimus with him in Rome, because the young man had been very helpful and had ministered to his needs.

v.15 Paul says that perhaps God's purpose was served in the running away of Onesimus, because while a runaway he met Paul and was converted.

v.17 Paul asks that Philemon receive Onesimus as he would receive Paul himself. This is real intercession. Jesus intercedes with God for us and asks God to attribute the righteousness of Christ to us.

v.18-19 Jesus asks God to put all our sins and transgressions on His account.

Paul reminded Philemon that his life was saved when Paul led him to Christ, so Philemon owed him a favor.

v.20-21 Paul was sure that Philemon would comply with his earnest request.

v.23 Epaphras was also from Colosse, so perhaps he recognized Onesimus as Philemon's runaway slave.

Used With Permission

© The Word For Today. We thank Chuck Smith, The Word For Today and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for their permission to utilize this work.

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