Faithlife Sermons

Philemon and Onesimus

Unsung Heroes   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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How do we use the opportunities we have to forgive? Do we ignore them? Hide them? Choose to forgive but nothing further? Or is there a way for use to forgive and restore?

Notes
Transcript

Catchy Introduction

Everyone Poops
Why do I read you this story?
To communicate we are all human
All humans poop—fact of life
All humans eat, sleep
We also know—all humans make mistakes
We betray, hurt (intentional/un), anger, surprise
Family, friends, people you don’t even know
We are all humans
B/c of mistakes—all humans need and give forgiveness
How do we use the opportunities we have to forgive?
We forgive to restore
Can we restore even better?
There is—unsung hero is going to show us what this looks like

Introduction

Last night of Unsung Heroes
Been introduced to people most do not recognize
Swipe Right
Food Fight
Who did we look at last week?
Moving from Prophets (600 BC) to year 60—Roman Empire
Last week I mentioned how the Bible has different genres
One genre in NT = Paul’s letters
Didn’t have texting—communicated by letters
13—wrote to different communities and people
Romans = community
Titus, Timothy = direct people
One letter towards pack of NT—Philemon
Smallest letter Paul
Paul’s smallest letter—25 verses
He wrote this letter from prison
7 letters of his he wrote from prison in Rome
Prisoner in Rome 3 years
In prison for spreading the resurrection news about Jesus
Philemon is not only Unsung Hero tonight—Onesimus
In Roman times—they would conquer a city—you had to bo
This letter was written to Philemon about Onesimus

Teaching

So what’s their story? Has anyone heard it?
Philemon was a well to do citizen who meet Paul and became a Christian
Philemon was a well to do citizen who meet Paul and became a Christian Philemon became a leader of one of Paul’s house churches The church in Colosse in western Turkey met in his homePhilemon like most Roman citizens owned slaves Not slaves like we think of—not based on raceSometimes paid—had housing—most masters were very kind to their slaves NT never represents slavary of any form as good Most had slaves—it was a way of life—may not seem right to us but to them it wasn’t wrong One day Onesimus has a conflict with Philemon—theft or cheated him—and he flees to Paul Onesimus upon meeting Paul becomes a Christian himself
Philemon lived in Colosse—organized a church in his home
Philemon like most Roman citizens owned slaves
Not slaves like we think of—not based on race
Sometimes paid—had housing
There were harsh masters
NT never states slavery is right
In that time
Most had slaves—it was a way of life—may not seem right to us but to them it wasn’t wrong
Q&R: Why didn’t Paul order Christian slave owners to free their slaves?
The ancient Roman culture was so dependent on slaves, the question becomes, how could Paul do otherwise and still keep the world’s focus on Jesus?
If Paul would have proclaimed free the slaves more than Jesus’ life—Civil War would break—message of Jesus lost in social unrest
Paul understood a persons spiritual state is most important
And when Christians do their job—unjust institutions will crumble
The same is true today—if we truly ever want to change something for the better—we have to act like Jesus publically
Back to the story:
One day Onesimus steals something from Philemon
Onesimus runs for his life—runs to Paul
Probably heard of Paul from Philemon
Onesimus becomes Christian
After Paul and Onesimus spend some time together—Onesimus must go back
Paul is determined that Onesimus must return to write his wrongs
This is why Paul is writing this letter
This is why Paul is writing this letter to Philemon
Paul asks Philemon, not to just forgive him, but to accept him as a brother—he does this by writing this letter Paul says faithfulness to Jesus means all followers are partners who share in the gift of grace of Jesus For Paul, partnership or Koinonia is not something to just think about—something you do, act on Paul asks Philemon not only forgive Onesimus but to accept him as Koinonia Philemon had every legal right to punish Onesimus—put him in pr

Application

Paul asks Philemon, not to just forgive him, but to accept him as a brother—he does this by writing this letter Paul says faithfulness to Jesus means all followers are partners who share in the gift of grace of Jesus For Paul, partnership or Koinonia is not something to just think about—something you do, act on Paul asks Philemon not only forgive Onesimus but to accept him as Koinonia Philemon had every legal right to punish Onesimus—put him in prison But Paul is not only asking that he not punish him but accept him as a brother Not that Onesimus would no longer have a job—he would still serve but a brother in faithPaul did not order Philemon to free Onesimus , “17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me.” Paul does not mention Jesus story in this letter but he doesn’t have to—he is demonstrating Jesus in his actionsStanding in between Philemon and Onesimus and asking Philemon to charge Onesimus’ wrongs onto himselfThis is what it means to follow Jesus—we are saved by Jesus—not by what we do We show Jesus to others by acting as Jesus has demonstrated for us 2 words to remember: 1. Reconciliation—God through Jesus on the cross brought us back to himself so that what we do wrong can be forgiven 2. Koinonia—b/c of reconciliation, we are equal before God sharing in the need for forgiveness—no longer on different levels but brothers and sisters (a family) Practical tip: don’t only forgive, accept them like family Jesus’ family where everyone is equal partners who share in God’s healing mercy (this is a new kind of humanity) In Christ, race, past, family history, how much money you have, it all does not matter—only new humansPaul put such high priority on Christians getting along because he knew how much we can accomplish when we work together and how little we can get done when we work against one another
Paul tells Philemon—I’m sending Onesimus back
Paul knows that Onesimus wronged Philemon
He asks Philemon—not only to forgive Onesimus but to accept him as a bro
Onesimus is human—he betrayed, wronged, surprised Philemon
Paul asks him to forgive him—love him like family
In this letter--Paul asks Philemon, not to just forgive him, but to accept him as a brother—he does this by writing this letter
Paul says faithfulness to Jesus means all followers are partners who share in the gift of grace of Jesus
, “Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever—no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.”
Paul is not only asking Philemon to forgive—accept him like family
Philemon had every legal right to throw him in jail—beat him up
Paul asks the same question we did at beginning
Asked at beginning:
How do we use the opportunities we have to forgive?
You may have ever right to be mad—not forgive
Just b/c we have the right, doesn’t make it right
We can:
1. Not forgive
2. Forgive and nothing else (certain circumstances this is fine)
3. **Forgive and restore—love in addition to forgiveness
We will both forgive and restore? To love in addition to forgiveness
This last one is the extra step to forgiveness we hardly mention
Go back to passage
In last passage—underlined brother—this word is used a lot in this letter
The New International Version. (2011). (). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Since this was originally written in…?
Greek word for brother = Koinonia (brother, family)
Koinonia—not something to think about—something you do
Philemon had every legal right to punish Onesimus—put him in prison
But Paul is not only asking that he not punish him but accept him as a brother
Paul asks Philemon not only forgive Onesimus but to accept him as family
Not that Onesimus would no longer have a job—he would still serve but a brother in faith
To forgive and accept
Paul did not order Philemon to free Onesimus
Interestingly—this is one of Paul’s only letters not to mention Jesus’ death and resurrection specifically
He doesn’t have to—he is acting as Jesus did for us
Paul does not mention Jesus story in this letter but he doesn’t have to—he is demonstrating Jesus in his actions
, “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”
17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.
The New International Version. (2011). (). Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderva

17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.

Paul is asking that if Onesimus is owed anything—charge it to Paul
This is what Jesus did for us
We owed God for the way we have betrayed and hurt him
Just as Paul stands between P—O, Jesus does for us
Now it does not matter what yo have done
B/c of forgiveness we have recieved—we are part of his family
Standing in between Philemon and Onesimus and asking Philemon to charge Onesimus’ wrongs onto himself
We show Jesus to others by acting as Jesus has demonstrated for us
2 words to remember:
Forgiving and restoring is not easy
Not easy—if we’ve been shown it—why shouldn’t we give it?
1. Reconciliation—God through Jesus on the cross brought us back to himself so that what we do wrong can be forgiven
2. Koinonia—b/c of reconciliation, we are equal before God sharing in the need for forgiveness—no longer on different levels but brothers and sisters (a family)
Practical tip: don’t only forgive, accept them like family Jesus’ family where everyone is equal partners who share in God’s healing mercy (this is a new kind of humanity)

Conclusion

In Christ, race, past, family history, how much money you have, it all does not matter—only new humans
Last question—this whole letter is about 2 people getting along—why does Paul care so much about that?
Why does this matter?
We can accomplish much more together than we can apart
This is why the devil does not want you to show forgiveness and restore relationships
He knows how much good we can be when we work together
He also knows how much harm we can do when we’re against one another
This is why I careful about how we speak, act, joke around
Each one of you has gifts that you can use to do good for God or harm
Forgiving and restoring matters—better relationships, less stress, more people on your side
Forgive and restore
So what happened when Onesimus went back? Don’t know
I hope we forgave and restored
We have a chance to do the same
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