Imprisoned By The Call And Will Of God
Although he was imprisoned several times in several cities, Paul was, above all else, "the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles." In Ephesians 4:1, he called himself, "the prisoner of the Lord." He told Timothy, "Be not ...ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner." Paul was literally incarcerated by the will of God. He felt no liberty to do anything but the will of God. If you ever see yourself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ, you will stop desiring anything but His will.
Philemon 1:1 - "Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ"
Making Mention Of Thee Always In My Prayers
In almost every epistle (letter) from Paul, he assured his readers that he was regularly praying for them. To the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, and individually to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Paul gave verbal assurances that he prayed for them regularly, daily, always. The record shows that Paul must have been a man of persistent prayer. That was a LOT of people to pray for daily.
Philemon 1:3-4 - "Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers."
I Pray That Your Christian Testimony Will Be Powerful
What did Paul pray for Philemon and his brethren? For grace and peace, and "that the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." In other words, he prayed that their testimonies to others about what Jesus Christ was doing in their lives would be powerful. May you likewise find that your Christian testimony has a powerful effect on everyone you speak to.
Philemon 1:6 - "That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus."
Loving Entreaties From An Elder Better Than Boldness
The letter to Philemon dealt with a quite personal matter. Paul had converted a runaway slave named Onesimus to Christianity, and had encouraged him to return to his master, Philemon, who had also converted to Christianity. He hoped to reconnect the two, not as master and slave this time, but as brother to brother. Paul carefully weighed his words to Philemon.
Philemon 1:8-9 - "Though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee... Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ."
Onesimus - Servant Who Became Brother In The LORD
Paul wrote to Philemon concerning Onesimus, his servant in Colosse. Onesimus had run away to Rome, and was converted by the gospel of Christ. He was a help to Paul in the ministry, but Paul felt obliged to return Onesimus to Philemon, begging him to receive him not as a servant, but as a brother in Christ.
Philemon 1:10,15-16 - "I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: ...perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved."
Through Your Prayers I Shall Be Given To You
Paul set about to reconcile Philemon with his run-away slave, Onesimus. Onesimus was converted by Paul, apparently in Rome, and had become a trusted friend and brother in the ministry. Philemon was an old friend of Paul. Paul urged Philemon "that thou shouldest receive him for ever; not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved." He also prayed that God would reunite them all soon.
Philemon 1:20,22 - "Brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: ...prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you."
Epaphras - Fellow Laborer, Fellow Prisoner
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul acknowledged the ministry of Epaphras, calling him his "fellowlabourer." In the letter to Philemon, Paul saluted Epaphras as "my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus." Paul considered himself a prisoner of Christ. It is unimaginable how the ministry or the Church could thrive or survive without men of God who labor together with hearts that are literally imprisoned by the divine call and duty. We should thank God for every one who labors as a love-slave of Jesus Christ. The world would be intolerable without them.
Philemon 1:24 - "Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers."
The Grace Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Be With Your Spirit
One commonly-given definition of grace is "the unmerited favor of God." Generally, when people speak of "favor" with God, we envision what effect His favor will have. Will the unmerited favor of God result in worldly prosperity? Will His grace provide me a new home, a new car, or financial gain? Will His favor assure me good health, or favor with men? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. But the grace of God, the unmerited favor of God is chiefly granted to save my eternal spirit.
Philemon 1:25 - "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."
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