Philemon, Who? What?

Every once and a while a guy or a team shows up at the track and people start to question, “Who is that? Wonder where they’re from? I wonder what they’ve run before?” Sometimes it is, “Oh, I’ve heard of them.” And sometimes it’s, “I’ve never heard of that guy.”

Well, today we turn to a book of the Bible that you may never have heard of before. You might say, “Is that really a book in the Bible?” Tucked away in the New Testament after the book of Titus and before Hebrews is the little one chapter book called Philemon. It contains some nuggets of truth that are rich and impactful. Let’s catch a few of them.

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

Did you know that Paul served time in jail? Not just once but on several occasions Paul was incarcerated. The word “desmios” is a bond or captive; a prisoner. Paul was not a thief, a drunkard, or anything like that. His only offence was that he preached the Word of God and God wanted him to witness to prisoners. This teaches us a couple great lessons. One is that no matter where we are, we need to be faithful and obey the LORD. Second is that we are to be a witness. God may put us in some unusual places to be a witness. Last year God had me in the hospital for nearly two weeks and that became my place of witnessing. I tried to take every opportunity to proclaim the truth of God, His glory, and His gospel. I would not have chosen that place or circumstance, but I pray something eternal came out of it.

Next, we see Timothy. Timothy is a younger man that Paul mentored and discipled. Timothy was a pastor that Paul developed and God used mightily. We see the two other New Testament books known as pastoral epistles written by Paul to Timothy. Their names are First and Second Timothy.

“Brother” – It is good to have brothers around us. We need the encouragement and we need to be challenged. If we are going to be teachable this should be a normal part of our life.

To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:

Philemon is a rich guy. He was a business owner and a believer in Jesus Christ. He was alongside Paul in someway to witness and make an impact for Christ to those around them. Look at the two words describing Philemon. One, a brother, “synergos”. Like minded and centered on Christ if we are talking about a brother in Christ. We know the world uses the term brother too but this is different. It is a closeness that is at the foot of the cross. Second is “fellow worker”, a companion in the gospel. Do you have a brother like that? One that will stand firm.

We can’t be sure but “Apphia” and “Archippus” might have been Philemon’s wife and son. They were also believers and in the work of the LORD.

We get a good picture of the church next. In this case it is a house church. We see a Biblical pattern for church to be held in a home and among a small group of believers. Think about that a moment. Think about really knowing and living together with a small group of close followers of Christ. That’s a lot different from how we often think about church. Take some time this week and think about what that would look like.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now we get one of Paul’s standard greetings. Oh, how we need peace in the world today. Catch the word “from”. We are searching for peace in the wrong places and in the wrong person, and in the wrong things. The Bible has the answers to life’s challenges and this is one clear one. If you want peace there is only one from it is going to come; God. The Father and the Son are mentioned here and in other places, such as in the book of John, the Holy Spirit is also mentioned. It gives us a clear picture of the triune God, three in One. Back to peace. Are you struggling with having peace in your life? I can tell you with confidence that peace can be yours if you will lean into and place your faith and trust in God, Fix your eyes, mind, and heart on Him.

That word “LORD” is also vital. Jesus can not just be your friend or your savior. He has to be LORD. That is Master, Yahweh, Messiah. Stop and really think of who is Jesus to you? What does “LORD” mean to you? Do you have a true Biblical understand of Jesus as LORD?

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