September 13, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Philemon
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Author: Paul, an Apostle
Date: Between AD 60 and 62, during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome
Context: This letter is a very personal letter, as evidenced by the beginning. Paul addresses himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ, which was true. At the time, Paul was imprisoned in Rome. While a prisoner, Paul met Onesimus, who eventually committed his life to Christ and helped Paul with his ministry during his time of imprisonment. Based on the language of Paul’s letter, Onesimus was very dear to him, like a son. It was heart wrenching to send Onesimus away, yet Paul must because Onesimus had to atone for his past sins. Onesimus was a run-away slave, an offense punishable by execution, torture, or begin sold again. Onesimus had gotten away with his crime, prior to meeting Paul, becoming saved, and confessing his sin. Paul was asking Philemon to pardon Onesimus of his crimes and accept him as a brother in Christ. How similar is this story to that of our own salvation? We are all guilty of sin, of committing crimes like Onesimus. Many have run away from the Lord so as not to face those crimes. Yet, through faith in Jesus Christ, we can return to the Lord and we will be forgiven of our sins.
World History: Philemon was a wealthy Christian living in Colosse. His slave, Onesimus had run away and later met Paul while Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Over time, Onesimus came to know and accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. In this letter, Paul encourages Philemon to accept Onesimus back and to forgive Onesimus for his past transgressions, as they are now both brothers in Christ.