THE EPISTLE TO PHILEMON Chapter One by Mark Copeland

                        THE EPISTLE TO PHILEMON

                               Chapter One

1) To be impressed with the loving hospitality which characterized the
   Christians in the early church

2) To learn lessons in the use of tact in dealing with others


In this very short and personal epistle, Paul addresses it to Philemon,
Apphia, Archippus and to the church in their house.  But it soon becomes
evident that its contents are directed toward Philemon, a beloved friend
and fellow laborer with Paul (1-3).

After his salutation, Paul expresses his thanks for the noble qualities
which have characterized Philemon in the past, especially his love for
the saints.  It is because of Philemon's past performance that Paul is
confident his plea will be carried out faithfully (4-7).

Paul's plea concerns Onesimus, a slave who had run away from Philemon.
Somehow he had run into Paul at Rome and was now a new convert to Jesus
Christ.  As a brother in Christ, Onesimus had made himself very useful
to Paul in Rome.  But because he still legally belongs to Philemon, Paul
is sending him back with a plea that Onesimus be forgiven and received
as a brother in the Lord.  Paul also offers to pay any restitution which
may be owed Philemon by Onesimus (8-21).

The epistle ends with a request for lodging in the near future, and with
sundry greetings from individuals who were with Paul in Rome (22-25).



   A. FROM... (1a)
      1. Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus
      2. Timothy, a brother

   B. TO... (1b-2)
      1. Philemon, a beloved friend and fellow laborer
      2. Apphia
      3. Archippus, a fellow soldier
      4. The church in their house

      1. Grace and peace
      2. From God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ


      1. Expressed in frequent prayers to God
      2. For Philemon's love and faith toward Jesus and all the saints

   B. PAUL'S PRAYER (6-7)
      1. That the sharing of Philemon's faith might be effective
      2. Through the acknowledgment of every good thing in Philemon
      3. For example, the joy and comfort experienced by Paul from
         Philemon's love, as Paul hears of how he refreshed the hearts
         of the saints


      1. Paul had the authority to command what is fitting
      2. He chose instead to make an appeal based upon...
         a. Love itself
         b. Paul's "age"
         c. His imprisonment

   B. PAUL'S PLEA (10-20)
      1. Concerns Onesimus (10-11)
         a. Who was converted by Paul while in chains, and is now like
            a son to him
         b. Who though once was unprofitable to Philemon, is now
            profitable to both him and Paul
      2. Paul is now sending Onesimus back to Philemon (12-14)
         a. Though he is very dear to Paul
         b. Though Paul wished to keep him and have him work in
            Philemon's behalf in the gospel
         c. But Paul did not want to do anything without Philemon's
            whole-hearted consent
      3. Paul's desire is that Philemon receive Onesimus as a brother
         in Christ (15-17)
         a. Perhaps his running away was for this purpose, that he might
            become a beloved brother in the Lord
         b. So if Philemon considered himself a partner of Paul, Paul
            asks that he receive Onesimus as he would Paul himself
      4. Paul offers to repay Philemon (18-19)
         a. For any wrong that Onesimus might have done
         b. Of course, Philemon already owed Paul his own life
      5. By receiving Onesimus in this way, Philemon could give Paul
         joy and a refreshed heart in the Lord (20)

      1. In Philemon's obedience
      2. That Philemon will do even more than what Paul is asking for


      1. That Paul might be able to stay with Philemon
      2. For Paul is confident that through the prayers of Philemon he
         will soon be able to come to him

      1. Epaphras, a fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus
      2. Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, fellow laborers with Paul



1) Why does Paul refer to himself as a prisoner of Christ Jesus? (1)
   - He was "in chains" (also under house arrest, awaiting trial)
   - But note also that he says "of Christ", for it was while engaged in
     HIS service and thus for HIS sake he was imprisoned

2) Why the mention of Timothy? (1)
   - He was with Paul at Rome
   - Also, it is possible that he was acquainted with Philemon

3) What does Philemon's name mean?  Did he live up to it?
   - His name means "one that is affectionate"
   - Yes! cf. verse 5 and 7

4) Who, possibly, are Apphia and Archippus? (2)
   - Apphia may have been the wife of Philemon
   - Archippus may have been their son, also the minister for the 
     church in Colosse (cf. Col 4:17)

5) Is this letter primarily to Philemon, or to all?
   - To Philemon (note the use of the singular in verses 4-21)
   - Though by mentioning the others, perhaps Paul was soliciting their
     help to encourage Philemon

6) What is a good example of this family's devotion to Christ and of
   their hospitality to the saints? (2)
   - It appears that they let the church meet in their home

7) Define the terms "grace" and "peace" (3)
   - Grace: favor that is unmerited
   - Peace: harmony (e.g., with God, self, and others), the result of
            God's grace

8) How could Paul have heard about Philemon? (4,5)
   - From Epaphras, who was a member of the church at Epaphras (Col 4:12,
   - From Onesimus himself

9) What good things had Paul heard concerning Philemon? (5)
   - His love and faith toward Christ and the saints

10) What are some examples of Philemon's love for the saints?
   - Letting the church meet in his home (1)
   - Refreshing the hearts of the saints (7)
   - Preparing guest rooms (22)

11) What does Paul pray for in behalf of Philemon? (6)
   - That the sharing of his faith may become effective

12) How is this prayer related to the plea which follows in verses 8-21?
   - Carrying out Paul's plea concerning Onesimus would be one way of
     assuring that Philemon's faith in its sharing would be effective

13) What had given Paul great joy and comfort in his imprisonment? (7)
   - Philemon's love and the way the saints have been refreshed by him

14) How does Paul re-emphasize his close feelings for Philemon? (7)
   - By calling him "brother"

15) What does the word "therefore" indicate? (8)
   - That Paul's plea for Onesimus is predicated upon Philemon's past
     behavior mentioned in verses 4-7

16) What could Paul have done in this matter? (8)
   - Simply commanded Philemon to do what is proper

17) What does Paul do instead? (9)
   - He "appeals" to Philemon

18) Why does Paul call himself "the aged"? (9)
   - Perhaps to appeal to Philemon's sympathy
   - Paul is probably about sixty years old at this time, but in light
     of bodily injuries incurred throughout his ministry (cf. 2Co 11:
     23-29), he was likely older than his years would normally indicate

19) Why does he again refer to himself as a prisoner? (9)
   - Perhaps to tactfully remind Philemon that since Paul had suffered
     so much in service to Christ, certainly Philemon could honor his

20) In the original language, where does the name "Onesimus" appear in
    the sentence? (10)
   - At the end: "I appeal to you for my son, whom I have begotten
     while in my chains, ONESIMUS."

21) What significance might there be in placing Onesimus' name at the
    end of the sentence?
   - Possibly that Paul is tactfully preparing Philemon to honor Paul's
     request by saying what he does before mentioning a name that is
     likely to bring bad memories to Philemon

22) What does Paul call Onesimus?  What does it mean? (10)
   - "My son"
   - Like Timothy, this convert of Paul had become like a son to him

23) What does the name "Onesimus" mean?
   - "Profitable", or "useful"

24) How had becoming a Christian changed Onesimus? (11)
   - Prior to his conversion, he was "unprofitable" (as a runaway slave)
   - Now, he was "profitable" to both Paul and Philemon
   - Thus he was now living up to his name!

25) What does Paul want Philemon to do in regard to Onesimus? (12)
   - Receive him

26) How does Paul express further what Onesimus has meant to him? (12)
   - He refers to Onesimus as "my own heart"

27) What had Paul wished to do with Onesimus? (13)
   - To keep him, and let him serve Paul in the gospel

28) Why had Paul refrained from doing what he wished? (14)
   - He did not want to do anything without Philemon's whole-hearted

29) What did Paul see as the "possible" reason for this turn of events?
   - The providence of God
   - Note that Paul says "perhaps"; Paul recognized that we cannot
     always be certain as to why things happen the way they do (just as
     Mordecai said in Esther 4:14), and whether it is always the Lord's

30) How did Paul want Philemon to receive Onesimus? (16)
   - No longer as a slave, but as a beloved brother

31) Upon what basis does Paul ask Philemon to receive Onesimus as he
    would Paul himself? (17)
   - If he considered Paul as a partner

32) What is Paul willing to do in behalf of Onesimus? (18-19)
   - Pay back anything Onesimus might owe Philemon

33) What indicates that Paul may have personally converted Philemon to 
    the gospel? (19)
   - Paul's statement, "you owe me even your own self"

34) How will Philemon's forgiveness of Onesimus affect Paul? (20)
   - Despite being in chains, Paul will have joy and be refreshed in 
     his heart

35) Was Paul in doubt about Philemon's response to his request? (21)
   - No, he had confidence that Philemon would do even more that what
     Paul asked

36) How could Philemon do more than what Paul had asked of him?
   - He could free Onesimus
   - He could give him spare time to evangelize
   - He could treat other slaves with similar compassion

37) How might Paul's request for lodging tactfully induce Philemon to
    honor his request for Onesimus? (22)
   - Philemon would know that Paul would soon be able to witness
     firsthand Philemon's response to the plea for Onesimus

38) Where else do we read of these men who accompany Paul in sending
    greetings to Philemon? (23,24)
   - All of them are mentioned in Col 4:10-14
   - Epaphras (Col 1:7; 4:12,13)
   - Mark (Ac 12:12,25; 13:5,13; 15:36-40; 2Ti 4:11; 1Pe 5:13)
   - Aristarchus (Ac 19:29; 20:4; 27:2)
   - Demas (2Ti 4:10)
   - Luke (The "we" sections of Acts, 2Ti 4:11)

39) What is Paul's concluding prayer for Philemon? (25)
   - "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."

40) List the main point of this epistle
   - Saluation (1-3)
   - Thanksgiving & Prayer (4-7)
   - The Plea For Onesimus (8-21)
   - Concluding Remarks (22-25)

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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