An Outline

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background     keyword    outline    the church     an analogy

1. Background.

This is a very personal epistle from Paul to Philemon with regard to a man called Onesimus. Onesimus was a runaway slave and became a helper to the apostle; however Paul insisted that he return to his rightful master, and in so doing asks Philemon to forgive and restore Onesimus. It must be remembered that in Roman law a runaway slave could only expect  scourging and execution, either by crucifixion or in the arena. This epistle is one beseeching forgiveness from a Christian master to a Christian slave. Paul sent  Onesimus back with Tychicus, whom he calls a faithful  and beloved brother;  Col.4:7

2. Keyword.

The keyword is  'receive':

Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:

Philemon 1:12 
For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever;

Philemon 1:15

 If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.

Philemon 1:17

3. Outline

Jesus our Refuge

Philemon  commended
Intercession for Onesimus

4.  The church at Colosse/Laodecia

By comparing Colossians and Philemon we have a number of people mentioned  with connections at Colosse and/or Laodecia

(i)    Epaphras, a faithful minister of the Colossians from  Colosse   Col.1:7-8;  4:12;  Phil.v23

(ii)   Philemon, Apphia ( feminine) & Archippus  ( Philemon's family?) Phil. v1-2

(iii)  Philemon had a church in his house
Phil.v 2; so did Nymphas, but this appears to have been  in Laodecia Col.4:15

5. An analogy of our redemption in Christ

This  incident serves as an illustration of our redemption in Christ. Onesimus represents the sinner and Philemon The Father. As Onesimus runs away from Philemon for wrongdoing, so the sinner runs away from God and is worthy of punishment.(b)  The runaway slave finds refuge in the apostle Paul, representing Christ, and is begotten  in the gospel v10; he   intercedes on his behalf  and repays the debt owing v18-19. The sinner returns to God and is received as Christ  Himself.