Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— also to Apphia our sister and Archippusour fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.Philemon 1-8
Relationships in the twenty-first century can be complicated, can’t they? The same was true in the first century and we will learn more about Christ-centered relationships in this brief letter from Paul to his friend and partner in ministry, Philemon. Later we are introduced to another friend of Paul’s – Onesimus who is in need of forgiveness and restoration.
In the passage above, Paul addresses the letter and its contents to Philemon as well as Apphia and Archipposour, and importantly, the church that meets in Philemon’s home.
Read the second paragraph above again. What picture does Paul paint of Philemon? Paul speaks to Philemon’s fulfillment of the Great Commandment by his faith in Christ and his expression of love for “all his holy people.” Philemon is an encouragement to Paul and to others.
I imagine these words would be encouraging to Philemon as well. How might we encourage someone else today?