Philemon 23-25 / Forgiveness

Posted on February 14, 2015


This is the sixth and final 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 8, 2015. This message deals with the issue of forgiveness. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.

Philemon 23-25

Sermon notes:

These five co-workers who send greetings to Philemon are also mentioned in Col 4:10-14

Epaphras was well known to the Colossians because he had founded the church there.

Colossians 1:7

He may have been in prison with Paul for preaching the Gospel.

Paul and Mark had a relationship which had been damaged, but later repaired.

Acts 15:37-40

2 Timothy 4:11

This relationship would have been well known to the believers in Colossae

Colossians 4:10

Listing Mark’s name here would remind Philemon that Paul himself had worked through the issues of forgiveness. Also, the instructions he was passing on to his friend were ones that Paul himself had already implemented in his relationship with Mark.

Forgiveness can be a tough thing. People will wrong you, sometimes intentionally. People may steal from you, lie about you, harm or abuse you, yet the Bible still calls for forgiveness. There are risks involved with the Christian lifestyle, which may result in people taking advantage of you. When this happens, many people become bitter and swear to never have anything else to do with that person. However, bitterness leads to depression and that is not a road you want to travel.

Scripture warns us against bitterness, anger, etc.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Un-forgiveness is like a cancer, which destroys you from the inside out.

Forgiveness is a necessity, but it is also one of the toughest issues that Christians face. We live in a sinful, cursed world, with evil all around. However, because Christ has forgiven us, we are to forgive others.

You say, “you don’t know what someone has done to me.” I understand that, but I do know what they did to Christ. They crucified Him; and while they were doing it, He cried, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” There may be situations where we have no intention of forgiving, but it is commanded by Christ!

Matthew 6:14-15

This simply means that although our forgiveness and salvation was unconditionally secured at the cross, in our daily lives we still sin, and this hinders our relationship with God. We have to make sure that our relationship with others is right, before we can expect a restored relationship with God.

Matthew 5:23-24

Then, God will faithfully forgive you and restore your relationship with Him. That’s just the kind of God He is.

1 John 1:9

Paul closes with his usual “grace”. This is very fitting, as forgiveness is certainly a picture of grace.

Paul urged Philemon to be reconciled to his slave, receiving him as a brother and fellow member of God’s family. Reconciliation means reestablishing relationship, and Christ has reconciled us to God and to others.

Many barriers come between people—race, social status, sex, personality differences—but Christ can break down these barriers. Jesus Christ changed Onesimus’s relationship to Philemon from slave to brother. Christ can transform our most hopeless relationships into deep and loving friendships.

Most of all, Christ continues to forgive us, over and over, without end. We should be a reflection of Christ; therefore, we need to learn forgiveness as well.

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