Philemon 17-22 / Redeemed and Received

Posted on February 5, 2015


This is the fifth in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Philemon. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the evening of February 1, 2015. This message shows us the importance of encouraging and receiving fellow Christians. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.

Philemon 17-22

Sermon notes:
Paul could probably ask no more than this, that Philemon receive Onesimus just as he would receive Paul.

If Paul showed up at Philemon’s home, he would be enthusiastically welcomed in.

Philemon would quickly see to his needs.

Paul wouldn’t be assigned to slave quarters, he’d be given the best room in the house.

Philemon would kill the fatted calf, and seat Paul at a place of honor at his right hand.

Paul would be given the run of the house.

Paul simply asked that Onesimus be treated the same. What more could he possibly ask?

Paul once again sets a Christ-like example.

He has lead Onesimus to repentance, and is now willing to pay any debt which Onesimus may have incurred.

Most likely, Onesimus had stolen from Philemon when he ran away. A slave would have been without wealth and in need of a way to support himself.

Philemon surely had an abundance, to which Onesimus likely helped himself.

Just as Christ has paid the debt for a repentant sinner, so was Paul offering to do.

Paul offered to place all of the debts on to his own account. An account which Paul would fully satisfy.

This is certainly an image of Christ, who knew no sin, yet became sin for us.

2 Corinthians 5:21

Isaiah 53:6

Christ took our sin, placed it on His account, and satisfied it with His own blood.

Hebrews 9:22

Matthew 26:28

In short, Paul was redeeming Onesimus in a Christ-like fashion.

By writing with his “own hand” rather than using a scribe, Paul placed himself under a legal obligation to repay the debt.

His ability to pay it back may have come from the gifts sent to him from Philippi.

Philippians 4:14-19

No doubt, this should be an incentive for us to give.

They sent gifts to Paul, most likely thinking that they were simply helping to supply his needs.

However, the gift became useful to redeem a new believer.

We never know what far reaching impact even a small gift may have.

They gave in faith, and that gift helped to promote and encourage faith.

Paul made an appeal to Philemon to accept his offer, by reminding him that he owes Paul “his own self”.

Philemon owed his soul to Paul, meaning that Paul had led Philemon to Christ.

Because Paul was Philemon’s spiritual father, he was hoping that Philemon would feel a debt of gratitude that he would repay by accepting Onesimus with a spirit of forgiveness.

Philemon owed Paul a debt that could never be adequately repaid.

This, alone, should be reason enough for Philemon to accept Paul’s offer.

If his gratitude to Paul were not enough motivation for Philemon, Paul also wants him to know that he himself would benefit from the reception and restoration of Onesimus.

It would bring joy to Paul.

Plus, Philemon had refreshed the hearts of other saints, (v.7) how could he possibly refrain from doing the same for Paul?

Having made all of these other appeals, Paul expresses confidence in Philemon’s obedience.

This obedience is not to Paul, but to Christ, and is motivated by love.

As Christians, a love of Christ should be our ultimate motivator. In fact, it should cause us to go above and beyond.

John 14:15

The things which God instructs us to do are just the beginning, not the end.

In other words, those things which He instructs us to do (tithing, forgiveness, charity, prayer, service) are just the starting point. We should always endeavor to do more.

The “more” that Paul is speaking of here, likely refers to freedom for Onesimus.

Paul was confident in the power of prayer, and planned accordingly.

Paul expected to be released from prison in the near future.

Phil. 2:23–24

after which he could be with Philemon and the other Colossians again.

Freedom was obviously very important to Paul on a personal level too.

Freedom is certainly a gift of God, and one that should be cherished and given as much as possible.

John 8:36

Likewise, we should always strive to use our freedom to honor God and bless others.

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