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Philemon

HOW TO MOTIVATE OTHERS TO WANT TO DO WHAT
GOD WANTS THEM TO DO

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF
PHILEMON

 

Principle #1 – Build a good foundation. (1-7)

Principle #2 – Free them from any pressure. (8-9)

Principle #3 – Stir up only positive emotions. (10-12)

Principle #4 – Do not presume. (13-14)

Principle #5 – Widen their perspective from their purposes and plans to God's purposes and plans. (15-16)

Principle #6 – Appeal to others as fellow Christians who share a common goal. (17)

Principle #7 – Be willing to do your share and more. (18-19)

Principle #8 – Use positive encouragement. (20)

Principle #9 – Believe the best of Christian brothers and sisters. (21)

Principle #10 – Hold others accountable. (22)

 

INTRODUCTORY INFORMATION ABOUT PHILEMON

1. The author:  We learn in verse one, that Paul is the author of this short book.
In verse 19 he says, "I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand."  In verses 1, 9, and 13 we learn that he was writing from prison.  This letter is one of four letters that Paul wrote from prison.  The other three are Colossians (See Colossians 4:10), Ephesians (See Ephesians 3:1, 4:1, 6:10), and Philippians (See Philippians 1:13-14)  From verse one we learn that Timothy was accompanying him when he wrote this letter: " Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker,"

2. The recipients:  We learn in verses one and two that the letter was written to a Philemon, Apphia (probably Philemon's wife), and Archippus (possibly Philemon's son) See Colossians 4:17  Philemon was a slave owner and Onesimus, his slave, had run away from him after stealing from him. See Philemon 18

3. The purpose and theme:  Paul wrote this letter to ask a favor of Philemon.  As a result of Paul's ministry to him in Rome, Onesimus had become a Christian.  Though, according to Roman law, running away from one's master was punishable by death, Paul asks Philemon to receive Onesimus back as a Christian brother rather than punishing him as a thief and as a runaway slave.  He makes his request without begging Philemon or pressuring him.

 

THE MESSAGE OF PHILEMON

Eric Hoffer wrote a book titled MAN THE MANIPULATOR.  Manipulation may be defined as what one does to get someone else to what he wants them to do without the other person knowledgably and voluntarily making that decision.  Hoffer describes two types of manipulators.  There are those who use their strengths to manipulate others.  They get what they want by bullying, intimidating, threatening, judging, criticizing, blaming and out-calculating others.  There are others who use their weaknesses to get what they want from others.  They compliment, cling, beg, cry, hurt, and are needy until they get what they want.  It is always a temptation for Christian leaders to lead using some form of manipulation to get others to do what they want them to do.

In this little letter to Philemon, we can learn from Paul on how to motivate others to want to do what God wants them to do, without using manipulation.  This means that Philemon, in the end, thoughtfully and voluntarily, without feeling pressure from Paul, undoubtedly chose to do what God wanted him to do.  How did Paul lead Philemon without manipulating him?  I find ten principles in Paul's letter to Philemon that will help us to lead without manipulating.

PRINCIPLE #1 – BUILD A GOOD FOUNDATION. (1-7)
"Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints."

Thought Question #1:  What can you find in these verses that indicate that Paul had a good and solid relationship with Philemon?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How can you follow in Paul's footsteps and build the same type of good and solid relationships with others?

 

 

Someone has said that people "do not care what you know until they know that you care."  If a Christian leader has not demonstrated over time his love for those he is seeking to lead, his leadership will end up being some form of manipulation.  We see in these verses, Paul's genuine love for Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus.

It is obvious that Paul and Philemon had spent some time together.  He calls him "our dear friend and fellow worker."  Then, he calls Archippus his "fellow soldier." See also Colossians 4:17  Paul may have spent time with Philemon and Archippus during his ministry in Ephesus. See Acts 18:9-10

The easiest way for a leader to get a group of people to do what he wants them to do is to seek to become a master manipulator.  I have heard that a pastor should come up with the direction that he wants the church to go and then cleverly steer the lay leadership toward those goals, doing it in such a way that they think that they are making the decisions, when it is actually he.  They become clever puppeteers who lead by crafty manipulation.  Paul was not this type of leader.  He was a "fellow worker" and a "fellow soldier."  He shared in the needs and in the struggles of those he led.

"I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints."

Are these words of Paul's merely flattery for the purpose of manipulating Philemon to do what Paul wants him to do?  It would be flattery if Paul did not really believe what he says about Philemon.  But, if Paul is speaking from his heart, out of his genuine love and concern for Philemon, it is not flattery.  And, of course, that is what Paul is doing in these verses.

He always thanked God for Philemon: "I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints."  This type of attitude is so different than what can happen in the ministry.  The Christian leader can focus in on what those he is leading are not doing, rather than being grateful for what they are doing.  That can happen in the home between married couples as well.  He can have goals for his ministry and see how those under his leadership are preventing his goals from being accomplished because they are not doing enough.  Paul was not at all like this!  He rejoiced in what Philemon and the others were doing.

How do we look at those under our leadership and at those in leadership over us?  Are we resentful for what they are not doing or are we thankful for what they are doing?  He always remembered them in his prayers.  It is possible to be a leader in a church without regularly praying for those we lead, but it is not possible to be a truly Christian leader without praying regularly for those we lead.

We see from these verses that Paul had high aspirations for those he led.  He desires that they would be active in sharing their faith with others.  And he says that the sharing of their faith will help lead them to "have a full understanding of every good thing that we have in Christ."  How does sharing our faith lead to you and me gaining a greater understanding of all that God has given us in Christ?  When we are actively participating in sharing with others the spiritual side of our lives, we will grow in our understanding of our own spiritual lives.  For example, it is in the spiritual trenches that we will hear questions that challenge our faith.  A college paleontology teacher challenged me to take his course.  He apparently believed that I would end up believing in evolution and abandon my views of creation after being in one of his classes.  He definitely challenged me, but the ultimate result of being in his class was a deepened and more secure faith in God.

The Hebrew Christians that are addressed in the book of Hebrews were unable to understand with any depth the things of the spirit.  They were still babes and could only handle spiritual milk.  What was their problem?  The author of Hebrews answers this question in the following way:  "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." (Hebrews 5:11-14)  We grow in understanding spiritual truth as we put our faith into action.  Paul desired that Philemon would put his faith into action by sharing his faith with others.

Next, Paul says Philemon's love has given him "great joy and encouragement."  In III John 4, John says, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."  Both Paul and John had a selfless love and concern for those they were leading.

Can you and I say that our greatest joy comes from seeing fellow Christians loving others and walking in the truth?  This shows that we have God's type of love for them.

So, here we see the foundation that Paul had built with Philemon.  Certainly, Philemon knew that Paul really cared for him.  Philemon undoubtedly had little concern that Paul was seeking to manipulate him, or that Paul had some type of selfish motive in writing this letter.

When we have this type of love and this type of relationship with those we lead, they also will be ready to listen to us and to accept our leadership.

PRINCIPLE #2 – FREE THEM FROM ANY PRESSURE. (8-9)
"Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—"

Thought Question #1:  Why do you think that Paul chose to "appeal" to Philemon rather "order" him to receive back Onesimus? Please read through Philemon to see what Paul was seeking to have Philemon do.

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What are some situations where you could have commanded someone to do something, but chose to appeal to them? (Was there a time when you were in authority – as a parent, on the job, in the church, etc., and could have commanded someone to do something, but chose to appeal to them.)

 

 

Paul could have used his authority as an Apostle and commanded Philemon to forgive Onesimus and receive him back.  There were times when Paul did use his authority as an Apostle and did command Christians to do what God clearly wanted them to do.  He did command the Corinthian Christians not to associate with a Christian brother who was practicing blatant sexual immorality. See I Corinthians 5:1-5  When someone has demonstrated that they are not going to be receptive to a loving plea, it becomes necessary for a person who is in leadership to make commands. See Titus 1:13

But, in the case of Philemon, Paul clearly felt that a loving appeal was all that was necessary.  So, Paul first of all frees Philemon by making it clear that he is not commanding him, but making a request of him.  By making a request, Paul is removing all outward pressure, and is pleading to Philemon to choose to make his choice freely and from his heart.

Parents can command their children to do the right thing, or they can appeal to them to choose to make the right choice.  If they make a command, the child
often will ask, "Why?"  The most authoritarian response is, "Because I told you to!"  The problem that occurs when a child does what is right because he is commanded to do it, is that he or she has no part in making the choice.  What a parent should prefer is that the child chooses to make the right choice as much on their own as possible.

Here, Paul seeks to encourage Philemon to do what is right.  Then, the decision that Philemon makes will be his decision, and he is more likely to make similar decisions when Paul is no longer taking any part in the decision.

Paul refers to himself in the least intimidating way possible: "an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus."  This description of himself is much less intimidating than "Paul the Apostle."  It is obvious that Paul was making every effort not to do anything that would lead to Philemon feeling that he did not have a choice about taking Onesimus back.

We can put pressure on people without realizing that we are doing it.  We may be so zealous for God's work that in our minds it is a foregone conclusion what someone should do.  They pick up immediately that we are not really giving them a choice.  The tendency, then, is for that person to resist anything that comes across to them like we are making their decisions for them.  We need to be careful not to use such things as guilt, passive threats, anger, impatience, and even zeal to take the choice away from our fellow Christians.

PRINCIPLE #3 – STIR UP ONLY POSITIVE EMOTIONS. (10-12)
"I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you."

Thought Question #1:  What are some situations in your life where you needed to be careful not to stir up negative emotions? (Examples: where someone is very sensitive about a certain subject, where someone is very sensitive about some bad experience in his or her past, etc.)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Were you successful or unsuccessful in handling those situations?  Please explain what happened.

 

 

Paul could have said, "I know you are upset at Onesimus.  After all, he stole from you and ran away right at the time that you needed him the most."  But, once Paul stirred up those negative emotions about Onesimus, it would have been very difficult for Philemon to be receptive as Paul tried to explain to him about how Onesimus had changed.  I was a college student at San Jose State College in the late 1960s.  I can remember anti-war protesters seeking to stir up angry emotions toward those in leadership who they believed were forcing young men to become soldiers and to fight in what they described as a horrible war.  Once they had the crowd stirred up, you could not talk to the people there calmly and reasonably.  If you wanted to do that, you would need to do it before they got all emotionally charged up.  Paul avoids whatever might be emotionally upsetting to Philemon, so that he can appeal to the more rational and caring side of Philemon.

Paul is careful to present Onesimus to Philemon in an entirely different way than the way Philemon probably thought of him after he stole from him and fled away; for Onesimus is no longer the thief and the runaway slave.  The Onesimus that is returning to Philemon is not the Onesimus that left him.  He is now a fellow Christian, and he has become like a son to Paul.  He is now coming back to Philemon as one who shares Paul's "very heart."  What if you desire that a person would forgive someone that had wronged him or her?  What would be the best way to go about it?  When someone wrongs us, the human tendency is to resent them.  What typically comes next is we begin to see everything about that person in the worst light possible; we see nothing good in him or her at all.  We focus on all the reasons that they deserve our resentment.  The reconciler must be Christ's representative for the person who did the wrong.  He must do what Paul does here and present that person in the light of God's love for him or her, as Paul does here with Onesimus.

PRINCIPLE #4 – DO NOT PRESUME. (13-14)
"I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced."

Thought Question #1:  In what way did Paul not make a presumption about what Philemon would choose?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Can you think of some time when you have presumed that someone should do something and did not really give them a choice?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  With whom can you be more careful not to assume what he or she will choose to do, and free them up to make their own choices?

 

 

Paul did not presume that it would be okay for Onesimus, Philemon's runaway slave, to stay with Paul in Rome.  Instead, he sends Onesimus back to Philemon so that Philemon can freely choose to keep Onesimus with him or send him back to be with Paul.  He sent Onesimus back so that Philemon was truly free to make the choice himself.  Paul could have kept Onesimus with him and then asked Philemon if it was okay.  Philemon would have, then, known what Paul wanted and would have said, "Go ahead and keep him there.  It is okay with me."  But, Paul would not have really known what Philemon would have really chosen, for Paul would not have really given him a choice.  Paul sent Onesimus back and really did give Philemon a choice.

In church work, we can do the opposite of what Paul does here.  We can decide for someone the work that God wants them to do.  Then, we can go to the person and tell them what God and we have decided for them.  With this approach, we are not likely to get the type of response that Paul got with Philemon.

PRINCIPLE #5 – WIDEN THEIR PERSPECTIVE FROM THEIR PUPOSES AND PLANS TO GOD'S PURPOSES AND PLANS. (15-16)
"Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good— 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 man and as a brother in the Lord."

Thought Question:  Can you think of some bad experience where you can now see how God has used it for some good?  What happened?  How did God use it for good?

 

 

We each tend to see our individual life from a perspective that goes only a few feet from where we are at the time and only a short time in front of us.  From this narrow perspective, we miss God's much bigger perspective on our lives.  In these verses, Paul introduces Philemon to another way of looking at Onesimus' action against him.

What Onesimus did was wrong.  But, God can use even the wrong that others do to us to bring about some good.  Paul suggests that Onesimus' wrong action may have been used by God to lead Onesimus to the Lord and to ultimately return to him to Philemon as a much better servant than he was before.  He had gone from being his slave to being a brother in the Lord.

It has been said that what happened to Philemon and Onesimus is what brought an end to slavery in Europe.  Slaves at that time were looked upon as inferior people who could be treated like non-humans.  But, when a slave owner and slave became Christian brothers and sisters, the caste system that divided them began to disappear, finally bringing an end to slavery in the European part of the world.

We also need to help those we are seeking to motivate to Christian love and service to see their lives from God's perspective.  We are not here on this earth to only fulfill our own personal dreams, develop our personal properties, and ultimately to live our lives on our own hoarded wealth.  We are here on this earth to fulfill God's purposes in the lives of those who will live eternally.  We need, then, to discover where we fit into God's eternal plans and purposes for our lives.

PRINCIPLE #6 – APPEAL TO OTHERS AS FELLOW CHRISTIANS WHO SHARE A COMMON GOAL. (17)
"So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me."

Thought Question:  Who are those who share with you a common goal?  Is that common goal also God's goal?

 

 

Paul knew Philemon well.  They were "fellow workers" in God's work and "fellow soldiers" in a war against a common foe.  Paul is not seeking here to motivate Philemon to share his goal, but instead, he knew that Philemon already shared his goal.  So, when he says, "So if you consider me a partner," he shows his confidence that Philemon did consider him to be a "partner." 

One of the big problems that can occur among Christians is when individual Christians or those passing as Christians have their own individual agenda, rather than seeking together after God's goals for the church.  John talks about one such individual in III John 9-10: "Diotrephes, who loves to be first."  Happily, individuals like Diotrephes are in the minority in the church.  Most Christians, especially mature Christians, realize that we share a common goal.  We are "fellow workers" and "fellow soldiers."

Because the church is such a unique group of people, illustrations that attempt to describe the church all fall short.  But, an illustration that helps me to understand the church is the wagon train of pioneer days.  It would have been self-defeating for the members of a wagon train heading west to be continually divided over where they were going and how they were going to get there.  They probably did have these types of divisions, but it was self-defeating.  They were fellow travelers, fellow workers, and fellow soldiers.  So, we in the church pursue a common goal.  That goal is God's goal for His church.

Paul let Philemon know that receiving Onesimus back as a Christian brother will further their common goal.  Philemon should welcome Onesimus back who now shares Philemon's and Paul's common goal and heart (see 12), as he would welcome Paul himself back.

PRINCIPLE #7 – BE WILLING TO DO YOUR SHARE AND MORE. (18-19)
"If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self."

Thought Question #1:  What do you think Paul meant when he said, "you owe me your very self"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How does Paul's example in these verses compare to Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:38-42 on going the extra mile?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Who do you know who did something similar for you to what Paul did for Onesimus?  What was it?

 

 

Paul is not willing to allow Philemon to pay for any expense that Onesimus cost him while Onesimus was Philemon's slave.  Paul is not specific here, though he was probably aware of some specifics.  Paul clearly wanted to cover any wrongs that Onesimus did to Philemon.

Paul is willing to cover these costs even though Philemon owed him a great debt: "you owe me your very self."  We cannot know for sure what Paul was talking about here, but we can safely narrow it down to two possibilities: (1) Paul saved his life at some time; or (2) Paul led him to Christ by sharing the gospel with him.  Paul desired to pay what Onesimus owed Philemon.  He wanted to pay for it, even though he knew that Philemon would probably say, "I owe you so much.  I cannot allow you to pay for it."  Paul did not remind Philemon how much he owed him to get out of paying for what Onesimus owed Philemon, but to ensure that he would pay it.  He did not want Philemon to use how much he owed Paul to prevent Paul from paying for Onesimus' bill to him.

Howard Hendricks, the dynamic professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, has been quoted as saying:  "If you want your disciples to bleed, you need to be willing to hemorrhage."  Paul demonstrates that principle in these verses.  He desired to carry the heavier part of the load in his relationship with others.

The application to our lives is obvious.  Are we willing to carry the heavier part of the load in our relationships with others?  Jesus obviously carried the heavier part of the load in His relationship with us when He carried our sins to the cross.  If we follow Jesus and Paul, we also will be willing to carry the heavier part of the load also.

PRINCIPLE #8 – USE POSITIVE ENCOURAGEMENT. (20)
"I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ."

Thought Question:  What, do you believe, is the positive encouragement that Paul gives in this verse, that was an encouragement for Philemon to receive Onesimus back?

 

 

Paul gives Philemon every good reason to welcome Onesimus.  If Philemon welcomes Onesimus back as a Christian brother, it will be a great gift that Philemon is giving to Paul.

We need to tell other Christians how much their service to Christ means to us.  So often, we do very much appreciate the service of others, but we assume that they know what we have not told them.  Paul is effusive throughout this short letter in telling Philemon how much he appreciates Philemon's service in the Lord. See 1,4-5   Here, Paul asks Philemon to continue to be a blessing to him by receiving Onesimus back.

PRINCIPLE #9 – BELIEVE THE BEST OF CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS. (21)
"Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask."

Thought Question:  Is what Paul says here a manipulation of Philemon?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

It is evident that because of Paul's knowledge of Philemon that he is confident that Philemon will not do what is selfish and easy.  Instead, he is confident that Philemon will selflessly receive Onesimus back; and he believes that he will do even more.  In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father (who symbolizes God the Father) receives his wayward son back in a surprising way.  He did not scold him.  He did the very opposite; he had a party for his son who once was lost but now is found. See Luke 15:11-24  Paul is confident that Philemon will receive his wayward slave back in a similar way.

We learn here that we are to believe the best of our fellow Christians.  As God the Father has loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us, so we can believe that our fellow Christians will love others with this type of love.  In I Corinthians 13:7, the love chapter, Paul says that love "always trusts, always hopes." (NIV)  In the New American Standard Version the same verse says love, "bears all things, believes all things, endures all things."  When we love others, we also believe the best of them.

PRINCIPLE #10 – HOLD OTHERS ACCOUNTABLE. (22)
"And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers."

Thought Question:  Do you agree with me, that Paul is here showing Philemon that he would be held accountable for his choice of whether or not to accept Philemon back?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

Paul does not stop with his encouragement to Philemon.  The Apostle gently tells Philemon that he will be visiting his friend shortly.  Here, Paul shows that he believes that he will be released from his imprisonment in Rome.  When Paul visits Philemon, he will have an opportunity to see whether or not Philemon received Onesimus back.

Even when we have good intentions, we do not always follow through and do what we fully intended to do and do what is appropriate for a Christian to do.  We need to encourage those that we love in the Lord to do their very best.  We should also appreciate those who encourage us to do our very best.

CONCLUSION (23-25)
"Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."

"Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings."  In the book of Colossians, Paul tells us more about Epaphras: "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis."  We learn in Colossians 1:7-8 that Epaphras was probably the founder of the church in Colossae.

It is hard to say, from Paul's words here, whether Epaphras was also a prisoner in Rome or if he so identified and sympathized with Paul's imprisonment that Paul called him a "fellow prisoner."  My comments on Colossians 4:10-11 will speak more thoroughly to the meaning of "fellow prisoner":  "Aristarchus was with Paul in Ephesus when the riot broke out against Paul; in fact, he was one of the two that the mob grabbed (see Acts 19:29).  He was also with Paul when he left Ephesus and went to Macedonia and Greece (see Acts 20:4); he was with Paul on the ship when Paul was being sent to be a prisoner at Rome; and, here, he is still with Paul while he is a prisoner at Rome.  He is called here, a 'fellow prisoner.'  In Hebrews 13:3, the writer of Hebrews says, 'Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners.'  We do not know if Aristarchus [or Epaphras] was in prison with Paul, but at the very least he was with Paul in heart while Paul was in prison.  Paul did not go through his struggles alone, Aristarchus and others went through all of his struggles with him.  The Christian life lived as Paul lived it is not easy.  We all need our Aristarchuses [and Epaphrases]—those who go through our struggles with us.  And we need to go through the struggles of others with them also."

"And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers."

Because the letter of Colossians was sent at the same time as the letter to Philemon, I will quote from my Digging for Gold on Colossians regarding the men that are mentioned in these verses in Philemon. 

"Mark":   "Mark went on the first missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas, but deserted them in the middle of the journey.  He asked to go on the second missionary journey, but Paul said, "No!"  But, here we see that Paul gave Mark a second chance:  ["My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)" (Colossians 4:10)]  Mark is now with Paul, and Paul instructs the Colossian Christians to "welcome him."  Later, just before Paul's death, Paul says to Timothy, "Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry."(II Timothy 4:11)  Paul gave Mark a second chance.  We also know that God gave Mark a second chance.  He used Mark to write the Gospel of Mark." 

"Aristarchus":  Refer to my comments on Colossians 4:1011 above, when I commented about "Aristarchus" being a "fellow prisoner."

 "Demas":  Here "Demas" is listed as one of Paul's "fellow workers."  Here is my quote from my Digging for Gold on Colossians 4:14b on "Demas":  "In II Timothy, at the end of Paul's life, Paul has the following to say about Demas: "Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica." (II Timothy 4:10)  So, "Demas" went from one of Paul's "fellow worker[s]" to a man that loved the world.  "Demas" is a warning to each of us.  At any time, we are in danger of getting sidetracked from God's calling on our life.  Each of us can give in to the lure of the world.  David, Solomon, and "Demas" gave into temptation and so can we.

"Luke":  Here is my quote on "Luke" from my Digging for Gold from Colossians 4:14a:  "Our dear friend Luke, the doctor,"  Luke was with Paul on his second missionary journey.  He stayed at Philippi.  He started up again with Paul when he passed through Philippi on the third journey.  We can tell when Luke was with Paul only by when Luke says "we" and "us" in the book of Acts.  When he says "we" and "us," he was with Paul and when he says "them" or does not say "we" or "us," he was not with Paul.  See Acts 16:11-13, 16, 17:1,20:5-6  Luke was the only one that was with Paul at his last imprisonment.   His last imprisonment is not recorded in the book of Acts.  When Paul wrote Colossians he was in the imprisonment described in the last chapters of Acts.  His last imprisonment is only talked about in the book of II Timothy.  See II Timothy 4:11  Luke was a doctor and possibly was with Paul because of a disease Paul had.  He was the first missionary doctor.  He gave up a rich profession to serve God and Paul.  He is like so many today who have given up riches to serve Jesus Christ.  Paul had this type of Christian friend."

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."  These words are one of the most important messages that we need to communicate to each other.  Our relationship with God is based on His grace, rather than on a works-performance relationship.  Paul's relationship with Philemon was also a grace-based relationship rather a works-performance relationship.  In his very last words to Philemon, Paul communicates that Philemon's relationship with God and his relationship with Paul were not based on how well Philemon would perform, but on the grace of God.

Thought Question:  Do you believe that Paul's letter is free from any manipulation?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

How was Paul able to write such a tactful letter to Philemon?  Was Paul very clever and he, therefore, was able to design a tactful letter?  Here is my own conclusion for you to consider.  I believe that Paul's selflessness and love for Philemon was such that he was able to very easily and naturally write a sensitive and tactful letter.  I believe that this letter was not the work of a clever tactician, but the product of a loving and wise servant of God.  And he, of course, was led by the Holy Spirit to write with love, sensitivity, and wisdom.  May we seek to understand God's love and grace and minister to others with the type of love, sensitivity, and wisdom that Paul demonstrated in his letter to Philemon.

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. ®   NIV ®   Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.  All Rights reserved.

Other Digging For Gold Studies

The Battle For The Sunshine Psalms Vol I
The Battle For The Sunshine Psalms Vol II
How To Live A Full Life In An Empty World Ecclesiastes 1-6
How To Live A Full Life In An Empty World Ecclesiastes 6-12
God Is Ruler Of The Times Of The Gentiles Daniel 1-6
God Is Ruler Of The Times Of The Gentiles Daniel 7-12
When God Seems Far Away Habakkuk
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 1-7
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 8-14
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 15-22
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 23-28
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 1-6
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 7-12
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 13-18
The Word Became Flesh! John 1-6
The Word Became Flesh! John 7-12
The Word Became Flesh! John 13-17
The Word Became Flesh! John 18-21
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 1-4
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 5-8
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 9-11
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 12-16
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 1-6
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 7-11
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 12-16
Paul's Life And Ministry: Triumph Through Weakness II Corinthians 1-7
Paul's Life And Ministry: Triumph Through Weakness II Corinthians 8-13
Rediscovering The Joy Of The Gospel Galatians
Seeing The Church From God's Perspective - Seeing The Riches Of God's Grace! Ephesians 1-3
Seeing The Church From God's Perspective - Seeing The Riches Of God's Grace! Ephesians 4-6
How To Be A Joyful And United Church Philippians
Pursuing Our Fulness In Christ Colossians
A Message To New Christians I Thessalonians
A Second Message To New Christians - A Wider Focus On The Christian Life II Thessalonians
God's Plan For Order In The Church I Timothy
How To Finish Strong In The Lord II Timothy
Doing What Is Good Titus
How To Motivate Others To Do What God Wants Them To Do Philemon
We Should Always Move Forward In Our Faith Hebrews 1-9
We Should Always Move Forward In Our Faith Hebrews 10-13
From Double-Minded To Single-Minded Christianity James
How To Live In Tough Times With An Eternal Perspective I Peter
How To Have Wholesome Christian Thinking II Peter
The Glorious Circle That Is Eternal Life I John
How Our Joy Can Be Complete &
Two Good Examples And One Bad Example
II & III John
What To Do When The Church Gets Off-Track: Contending For The Faith! Jude
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 1-5
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 6-11
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 12-16
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 17-22