Philemon 1:8-19 Restoration and Forgiveness

Philemon 8-19 “Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 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 — 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him — who is my very heart — back to you. 13 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. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good— 16 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. 17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”                                       
Filemone 8-19 Perciò, pur avendo molta libertà in Cristo di comandarti quello che conviene fare, 9 preferisco fare appello al tuo amore, semplicemente come Paolo, vecchio e ora anche prigioniero di Cristo Gesù; 10 ti prego per mio figlio che ho generato mentre ero in catene, per Onesimo, 11 un tempo inutile a te, ma che ora è utile a te e a me. 12 Te lo rimando, lui, che amo come il mio cuore. 13 Avrei voluto tenerlo con me, perché in vece tua mi servisse nelle catene che porto a motivo del vangelo; 14 ma non ho voluto fare nulla senza il tuo consenso, perché la tua buona azione non fosse forzata, ma volontaria.15 Forse proprio per questo egli è stato lontano da te per un po’ di tempo, perché tu lo riavessi per sempre; 16 non più come schiavo, ma molto più che schiavo, come un fratello caro specialmente a me, ma ora molto più a te, sia sul piano umano sia nel Signore!17 Se dunque tu mi consideri in comunione con te, accoglilo come me stesso. 18 Se ti ha fatto qualche torto o ti deve qualcosa, addebitalo a me. 19 Io, Paolo, lo scrivo di mia propria mano: pagherò io; per non dirti che tu mi sei debitore perfino di te stesso.”
            Philemon was a well-to-do Christian and the church at Colosse met in his home. Onesimus was a slave in the care of Philemon but he stole some possessions and ran away ending up in Rome where he met Paul. Through the ministry of Paul, he had come to know Jesus Christ as his Savior. In Paul’s discipling of this man, he urged him to return to Philemon. 
            Paul’s sends an appeal to Philemon saying that Onesimus is no longer a slave but a brother in the faith. Whatever Onesimus was, he is now a new man. It would take faith for Onesimus to return, risking a potentially harsh punishment, but he follows Paul’s counsel. It would take forgiveness on the part of Philemon to receive him back and view him as a brother in Christ             
           In this narrative, we find a wonderful expression of how the love of God works in the lives of both of these men. Onesimus, who had the lowest social status without any rights in the Roman Empire, was now elevated to the same spiritual level as Paul and Philemon. Those who are in Christ are free from the man-made labels that can separate us. Galatians 3:28-29 reminds us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  
Pray with me: Lord, there is so much that I can learn from this powerful message of restoration, forgiveness and acceptance As I face situations in my life, whether I am one or the other party in this account, help me to follow the counsel given by Paul in the Scriptures.

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