This study comes from a book in the Bible that you may not have spent much time in. No, not the Song of Solomon. Have you read the...Introduction:
This study comes from a book in the Bible that you may not have spent much time in. No, not the Song of Solomon. Have you read the book of Philemon lately? Have you ever read the book of Philemon? If so, do you know what it is about? And did you get anything out of it? I must say that for a long time, I wasn't greatly enriched by this little letter. In fact, to be a little more honest, I once said to my dad that there is nothing in the book of Philemon! Nothing! I had never heard a sermon from the book of Philemon, nor had I ever heard any preacher say ‘now please turn with me in your Bibles to the book of… Philemon.’ Not once. I read it a few times but always seemed to struggle with what I could take out of it for my life.
And then I read the life story of H.A Ironside. What an amazing man he was… but that’s another topic! At one stage in the book, two questions were posed to him which caught my attention – He was asked ‘On what passages of scripture have you preached most?’ and ‘What is your best loved sermon.’ His reply to the first question was Exodus 12, Psalm 32, Romans 1:16-20 and (now I thought I must be going slightly mad...) Philemon! In reply to the second question he said that it was very hard to say, but probably his favorite sermon was ‘Charge that to my account’ from, of course, the book of Philemon! I was beginning to feel rather small at this point for the book of Philemon, which I had nearly written off, seemed to be the favorite of this great bible teacher and leader!
What had I missed? Apparently quite a lot as we shall soon see! But to begin with, let me just say that the message of Philemon ‘clicked’ for me when I saw the title of Ironsides sermon – ‘Charge that to my account.’ But more on that later! Let's start with the text and read the whole letter seeing it is but one chapter.
Phm 1:1-25 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, (2) and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: (3) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (4) I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, (5) because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; (6) and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake. (7) For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother. (8) Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, (9) yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you--since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus-- (10) I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, (11) who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. (12) I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, (13) whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; (14) but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. (15) For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, (16) no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. (17) If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. (18) But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; (19) I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well). (20) Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. (21) Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say. (22) At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you. (23) Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, (24) as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. (25) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
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