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Intro: Ill. The context of the book. This little letter is called the greatest piece of writing ever put on paper. Even unbelievers have seen the greatness of this little story. There are several ways to preach from this book. In fact, one of the greatest examples of redemption and reconciliation in the entire Bible is right here, Ill. The Story. Tonight, I want to take a little different approach to this book and instead of trying to identify with Onesimus, I want us to try and identify with Philemon. Here is a Christian man who has been greatly wronged and is called upon to put it all behind him and forgive. I believe that there are some lessons here for every believer tonight. Please give me you attention as I preach on the subject, Questions For Modern Philemon’s.


A. Ill. The Context. Apparently, Onesimus had stolen property from Philemon and had run away, costing Philemon much money. (Ill. The average price of a slave was 500 denarii)

B. Being wronged by our fellow man is an unfortunate fact of life! Luke 17:1; Matt. 18:7.

C. When we are wronged, we must know how to react. If we react as the world teaches, then we jeopardize our testimony. If we react as the Bible teaches, we glorify God and point men to a Savior who can make a difference in the lives of men. Notice the next three questions that Paul asks:


A. Ill. The Context. Receive = “To take to oneself, To take by the hand, To grant access to one’s heart.” Literally to totally forgive and be reconciled to another.

(Ill. The difficult position Philemon was forced into - If he was lenient, other slaves would do the same, is he was harsh, he would hurt his ministry.)(Ill. Paul’s solution - 1:18-19)

B. When we are wronged, do we have the capacity within us to forgive the offender? We are commanded to! (Matt. 18:20-35; Luke 17:1-5)We have a good example to follow - Ill. Jesus - Eph. 4:31-33; Col. 3:12-13.

C. When we forgive, as Jesus did, then we are walking in love toward man and God - 1 Cor. 13:4-7; Matt. 22:39. (Now is the time to bury the hatchet!)


A. Ill. Context. When Onesimus left, he was a sinner and a slave, when he came back, he was a saint and a brother to Philemon. Paul’s request was for Philemon to receive Onesimus as a brother in Christ.

B. Are we able to receive all men? Can we receive them regardless of what they have done, what color their skin is, where they come from, etc?

C. As Christians, we are to practice the same type of acceptance that Jesus practiced, regardless of what they have done to us - Eph. 1:6; Gal. 3:28! (Ill. The Prodigal Brother Luke 15:25-32!)

D. Others should not have to meet our standards to be accepted by us - James 2:1-9


A. Ill. The Context. Philemon had no problem loving the saints, v.5 The true test of His faith would come when he was required to love Onesimus with the same degree of love. Philemon had some big shoes to fill!

B. The test of our faith is our ability to love others as Jesus loves them. Unconditionally, unreservedly, wholeheartedly!

1. Applied to the saints - 1 John 2:10; 3:11; 14; 17-18; 4:7-8; 11; 20-21

2. Applied to all men - Matt. 22:39

C. When we are able to love others, in spite of what they have done to us, then, and only then are we living out the Gospel.

Conc: As you sit here tonight, are you aware of someone who as hurt you? Perhaps you have entertained thoughts of revenge. Maybe you’ve held a grudge against that person for some time. Let me tell you this, when you hold a grudge you are not hurting the person you are angry with, you are hurting yourself. You can never experience the fulness of God’s forgiveness until you practice it in your life. There is no better time to begin than right now. How did you answer these questions?

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