Philemon 8-16 – Motivations for a Reconciled Relationship

As Paul works through his letter to Philemon, he wants to take this time to prepare Philemon’s heart for the request that is coming in the final section of the letter which we will address next week. In this section, Paul appeals to three areas: 1) love, 2) the change that the gospel makes, and 3) God’s sovereignty.

First, Paul appeals to him on the basis of love which is foundational to every believer. 1 John 4:8 would say that of necessity those who know God will have love as a defining characteristic of their new nature in Christ and verse 19 of this chapter would continue that our love stems from having first behind loved by God. And so, it’s on this basis first that Paul calls Philemon to respond to his upcoming request. And this is not only helpful for Philemon, by as we consider the current events of day – racial justice, Covid-19, and the upcoming election, it would be appropriate for each of us to consider even those who are our “opponents” first on the basis of love as we consider both how we act and react.

Secondly, Paul appeals to him on the basis of the change that the gospel makes in the life of every person. Paul reminds him that Onesiumus has been transformed by the gospel. He’s not the same person he was before and that as we know from Romans 6:2 that this person has died to sin and can live in it no longer. Not only is he not the same person, but your relationship has changed. The gospel not only redeems us but also as we see in Ephesians 2:14, it makes us one and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility between once formerly alienated peoples.

Finally, Paul makes his appeal to Philemon on the basis of God’s sovereignty. Paul suggests that perhaps God has been working in just such a way to maximize his glory through their reconciliation. In much the same way as in Esther 4:14, that she was put in her position for just such a time as this, so also Philemon and Onesiumus have been put in this position and given an opportunity to display God’s glory through their reconciliation.

Read Philemon 8-16 and notice how Paul appeals to Onesimus in the three ways mentioned above. In your own personal relationships where there may be conflict, which of the above might be helpful in how you seek to lead the way in being reconciled with that individual or group of people?

Whatever My God Ordains Is Right by Matt Merker

Posted on: September 25, 2020 - 1:00PM

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