This post is Day 9 in a series of studies about “Philemon”. I strongly suggest you begin with the introduction to this study, please click here to read it.

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Philemon – Day 9

Philemon 8-9

Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love.

The Thought

This short letter gives us a brief look into the changes which are still ongoing in Paul.

Having given Philemon several compliments and encouragements, it now sounds as though Paul is pulling rank over this pastor, saying that he could order him what to do! We get a glimpse of the old Paul, wanting things his way, the hard master renowned for persecuting those who didn’t think like he did. The one known for his aggression and religiosity, certainly not for his love!

The new Paul is encouraging the same changes in Philemon, hoping and praying that this slave-owner will learn the lesson, react in love, and take Onesimus back into his employ.

Wherever we are on the road as believers, there are always new things to learn, or old things to learn once more! The challenges of life too often make us react as the world reacts, and it’s only after prayer and serious thought that we realise we shouldn’t have said what we said, or done what we did.


Imagine today the meeting between Philemon and Onesimus. (It was the runaway slave that delivered the letter to his old employer!) Philemon would remember his anger at the slave’s disappearance, and Onesimus must have been trembling and praying as he approached Philemon. Under the law of that time his old boss could condemn him to death.

One of the messages of the short letter to Philemon is “love made evident through forgiveness”. Ask yourself today if you are as forgiving as Paul was hoping Philemon would be. Is there anyone you think you have forgiven, but still would prefer not to see again. Being face to face with a previous offence can be a challenge.

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