What is your favorite Bible verse? Scripture? Book? Did anyone say Philemon? No? When is the last time you read Philemon? Have you ever read Philemon? Philemon is sandwiched between Titus and Hebrews, and it just contains 1 chapter with 25 versus. It’s a book in the Bible that you may or may not ever turn to unless you are reading the Bible all the way through and just happen to run across it. That’s how me and my family ran across it recently. We do nightly Bible studies, reading through the Bible book by book in order. We just finished Titus and ran across Philemon. Every night, we read a chapter then spend 30 plus minutes talking about what we just read. I must confess, after we read Philemon, there was a moment of silence, trying to understand what we just read. My 1st question for us to think about was, “What do we need to learn here?” followed by, “Why do you think Philemon is even in the Bible?” We had to think about it. Our daughter broke the ice with her own question wondering how to pronounce “Onesimus.” So we did some digging into who he is, what’s his relationship to Paul and Philemon. By the way, who is Philemon? This lead us to going to a couple of different commentaries, going back and forth from the commentaries to the Bible. Things started to make sense. We identified the people, how they were connected and what Paul was writing about. Once we were putting more and more pieces of the puzzle together, the lessons began to take shape and make sense. Actually, there are some wonderful lessons and themes that we picked up on that night, such as:
· How Christians should conduct themselves when relationships are strained
· Interceding for another
· How at this point Paul is “aged” and in prison yet still communicating and ministering to churches and individuals, sharing God’s grace through Jesus Christ
· How we should be forgiving as Christ forgives us
· The model for Christian friendship
And trust me, there is more to this wonderful book. You may have noticed I have not explained the book of Philemon nor answered my own questions. That is very much on purpose. I want YOU to read it like we did and learn from it based on what the Holy Spirit would reveal to you. Is it still relevant to us today? You betcha! I love discovering new themes and lessons in the Bible that I may not have discovered on previous read-throughs. Philemon is Phenomenal!
by Brian McMurrey