Scriptures Analyzed: Philemon

A. Location:

We have the book of Acts, 12 doctrinal letters, and then Philemon. The doctrinal and the dynamic

Seed plot in Acts, teaching in epistles, practice in Philemon

Pattern, precept, principle

B. Letter

Penman – Paul

Place – Prison house in Rome at the end of Acts 28; from here he wrote four letters

People – Philemon and his family, Paul, and Onesimus

Problem and Purpose – what the epistle is all about

C. Language

The Clanging of his Chains: (vv1, 9, 10, 13, 22, 23)

The Charity of his Heart – grace and consideration mark virtually every verse

The Choice of his Words: no compulsion, demands, assertiveness

The Concern of his Heart – for the forgiving of a slave, for the fruitfulness of Philemon, for the fragile nature of relationships

D. Levels:

Literal and Historical – the basic and first way to understand anything

Social – issues such as slavery etc; used by Abolitionists and Slave Holders

Typical – Paul, Onesimus, Philemon

Also have a prodigal spouse (Gomer), Son (Luke 15) slave (Onesimus), prodigal seer (Jonah)

Soteriologic – doctrine of salvation; great book on reconciliation; frequently a book or epistle which highlights a truth – Ruth and redemption; Esther and sovereignty; Titus and change; etc.

Practical – How we deal with each others; relationships

E. Layout of the Epistle

1. Address marked by Grace (vv1-3)

Lowly View of Self

Loving View of Others

Lofty View of Divine Persons

2. Appreciation for Godliness (vv4-7)

Rejoicing he Afforded

Radiance he Displayed

Refreshment he Gave

3. Appeal of a Gentleman (vv8-17)

His Unusual Manner

The Unusual Matter

The Unusual Measure

His Unusual Mercy

4. Arrangements as Guarantor (vv18-21)

Handwritten Promise

Heart-warming Phrase

Hopeful Prospect

Heavenward Prayer

5. The Anticipation and Greetings (vv22-24)

Mark – poor start; good finish; Paul forgave him

Demas – good start, poor finish

Luke and Aristarchus – consistent men

F. Lessons

Sovereignty of God – takes inexplicable circumstances of Paul, Onesimus, Philemon, and turns them to blessing, working his purposes. Do not rush to explain another’s circumstances and trial. Satan may fuel the ship of evil; God steers it to His ends. Trials occur to the best of saints: Joseph and not Judah, Abraham and not Lot, Job and not the three friends

Sincerity of Character with another brother: Principles available to govern relationships among the people of God

Not shrewdness, manipulation, diplomacy, psychology, intimidation. Elements which made up Paul’s view of relationships include:

Respect for another – value the person and the relationship

Acceptance of another – do not try and change; our example should motivate change; our interests should foster change; but do not try and change

Honor – allowing him a free will; his autonomy. Makes me vulnerable. If you try and control someone, you will never be able to help them

Sensitivity – to his circumstances, conscience, condition

Blessing – seeking the good, the best for another, not self

Trust extended

Surrendering of Rights:

Compromise preferences and not principles

Concede your “rights” for the blessing of others – having a right to do something does not always make it the right thing to do.