Close

Lessons from Philemon

04.03.22 Wayne Staker

  1. Why the Resurrection Matters
    04.17.22 21m 28s
  2. Palm Sunday
    04.10.22 33m 34s
  3. Lessons from Philemon
    04.03.22 35m 07s
  4. Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness
    01.09.22 39m 59s
  5. My Pursuit: 2022 and Beyond
    01.02.22 46m 57s
  6. Thou shalt not steal
    10.03.21 38m 39s
  7. The Resurrection Matters
    04.04.21 26m 09s
  8. The Mission of the Church
    03.07.21 61m 59s
  9. The Way of Wisdom
    01.10.21 38m 36s
  10. The Child Jesus
    01.03.21 25m 52s
  11. What is Truth?
    09.06.20 25m 57s
  12. Thou Shalt Not Murder
    08.02.20 33m 31s
  13. Hope in Repentance
    03.08.20 39m 20s
  14. Greater Works of the Father
    01.19.20 24m 48s
  15. The Blessed
    10.27.19 26m 49s
  16. Core Values of Alpine Bible
    09.15.19 40m 26s
  17. Foundations of Alpine Bible
    09.08.19 37m 27s
  18. But God …
    07.28.19 33m 06s
  19. The Four Marks of Christians Who Make an Impact
    06.02.19 37m 23s
  20. Born Again
    03.03.19 32m 13s
  21. The Sanctity of Life
    01.13.19 43m 38s
  22. Hall of Faithfulness
    01.06.19 30m 09s
  23. What About the Word of God?
    10.21.18 33m 49s
  24. What the Lord Requires …
    05.20.18 41m 21s
  25. Being Diligent
    05.13.18 40m 43s
  26. The Root of Happiness
    05.06.18 46m 05s
  27. Anxiety
    04.29.18 42m 54s
  28. Mission Sunday
    04.08.18 46m 27s
  29. The Glory of God in the Face of Christ
    03.04.18 45m 35s
  30. Unity and Hope
    01.28.18 46m 21s
  31. The Struggle is Real
    12.17.17 51m 10s
  32. Contentment
    08.06.17 44m 27s
  33. Value
    03.26.17 30m 37s
  34. Brave: People of Character in a World of Chaos
    03.12.17 43m 00s
  35. the Body of Christ
    01.08.17 32m 16s
  36. The Message That Will Change Your Life
    01.01.17 34m 18s
  37. Obadiah
    10.30.16 37m 24s
  38. 3 John
    10.16.16 48m 54s
  39. Haggai
    10.09.16 28m 19s
  40. 2 John
    10.02.16 39m 36s
  41. Philemon
    09.25.16 39m 04s
  42. The DNA of ABC
    08.28.16 51m 47s
  43. Baptism Sunday 2016
    08.21.16 34m 26s
  44. Addressing Fear and Anxiety
    08.14.16 35m 48s
  45. A Recipe for Victory
    06.19.16 37m 07s
  46. I Am With You Always
    06.12.16 39m 33s
  47. Mentoring the Heart
    05.22.16 40m 36s
  48. One Mind
    02.28.16 31m 00s
  49. Christmas Refuge
    12.20.15 44m 03s
  50. Your Christmas Gift
    12.13.15 38m 43s
  51. Bethlehem
    12.06.15 32m 23s
  52. Persecuted Church
    10.25.15 39m 57s
  53. The Most Counter Cultural Command
    09.06.15 38m 31s
  54. State of the Church
    08.30.15 43m 28s
  55. The Fear of the Lord
    08.23.15 37m 40s
  56. Baptism Sunday
    08.16.15 27m 41s
  57. Let Us Go To Him
    06.08.14 47m 49s
  58. The DNA of Alpine Bible
    06.01.14 46m 15s
  59. Preparing for Easter
    04.13.14 40m 26s
  60. A Heart God Desires
    12.01.13 34m 37s
  61. Evil, Suffering and God
    11.24.13 42m 23s
  62. Win the Worship War
    08.11.13 34m 13s
  63. Live For Christ and Living Like Christ
    08.04.13 36m 26s
  64. How do we keep from losing heart?
    07.28.13 41m 41s
  65. Bible Stories: Jonah and the Whale
    07.21.13 41m 06s
  66. Forgiveness
    11.25.12 46m 47s
  67. The Persecuted Church
    11.11.12 43m 30s
  68. Driven
    04.29.12 35m 58s
  69. New Year’s Resolutions
    01.03.12 33m 30s
  70. Baptism
    08.14.11 22m 30s
  71. The Passover
    04.24.11 38m 02s
  72. Go and Learn What This Means…
    12.05.10 33m 07s
  73. How Good is Good Enough?
    08.15.10 43m 57s

Lessons from Philemon

04.03.22 Wayne Staker Standalone Series

Well, it’s good to see everybody this morning. If you would turn in your Bibles to Philemon. Philemon’s a small, one-chapter book toward the end of the New Testament. If you get to all of the t-books, all of the t-books are together in the New Testament. First, Second Thessalonians, First and Second Timothy and Titus. All the tea books are together and Philemon’s right after Titus. If you get all the way to Hebrews, you went too far, so come back Philemon if you got all the way to Hebrews. But we’re going to look at the book of Philemon’s this morning, and really to begin to understand Philemon, we kind of have to start with the book of Colossians, because Colossians and Philemon were really written at the same time and kind of to the same people.

As a matter of fact, Colossians, Philemon and Ephesians, and Philippians, were all written by Paul around 60, 61AD from a prison cell in Rome. So here’s Paul reaching out to all these people and caring about all these people while he sits in a prison cell. Now, the book of Colossians was written to the church in Colossae. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit. The book of Philemon was written to an individual by the name of Philemon And so we’re going to learn quite a bit about him. We learn most of what we get to understand that Philemon was an individual in Colossae, actually from the book of Colossians. So let’s look first at Colossians chapter four, verses seven through nine. I really like that pastor can read from this screen, because it’s so tiny. I can’t even see it from here. I’ve got to read it off my page. So anyway, it’s cool that he can do that.

Philemon chapter four, seven through nine, says this, “As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond servant in the Lord, will bring you information. For I have sent him to you for this very purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; and with him is Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your own. They will inform you about the whole situation here.”

So Paul’s saying, “Listen, Tychicus and Onesimus are going to bring this letter I’m just finishing up to you, Church of Colossians. They’re going to bring this letter to you.” Now it’s a interesting that he mentions Onesimus because that’s really a key player. Onesimus is in the book of Philemon. And so we’re going to learn a whole bunch more about him. And keep in mind, as we learn about Onesimus, that Paul calls him a faithful and a beloved brother, because we’re going to learn some stuff that indicates that he wasn’t always that. So, think about that for a minute.

We see from this verse in Colossians that Onesimus is linked to the church in Colossae, it’s linked to Colossae. Remember, Paul says, “He’s one of your own.” And then we’re going to see how Onesimus is also linked to Philemon in just a few minutes so that we know then, from this, that Philemon is an individual that’s in Colossae because a book of Philemon doesn’t say that. And so this links us up to understand that Philemon’s in Colossae, and not only does he live in Colossae, he has a church that meets in his home. We’ll see that in just a minute. So he’s part of the church in Colossae, a believer that’s in the city of Colossae.

It’s also kind of interesting to know, Paul writes so many letters to churches that he founded, in a sense, he started. In Ephesians, in Philippians and Thessalonian, and all of those letters are to church churches that Paul founded, that he started, but Colossians isn’t the case. As far as we know, Paul never even went to Colossae, it’s not recorded for us. And so Paul did not found this church and yet he’s writing a letter to this church and then a letter, a very intimate letter, to a member of this church. So he still knows these people. And that’s important to understand as well because Paul is going to challenge Philemon with something very personal. We see that this is such an intimate letter between Philemon and Paul, and we’ll come to understand as we get into it, that Philemon is actually saved in Paul’s ministry, under Paul’s ministry at some point, even though Paul never went to Colossae. So we’re going to come to understand that and see that and see this challenge that Paul is going to give Philemon, and it’s a difficult challenge.

Different than most books, then, Philemon is really a very personal letter be between Paul and Philemon. It’s really Paul sharing his heart with Philemon’s heart. That’s really what we’re going to read about. So let’s look first at chapter one, or the only chapter, and verses one through three. Isn’t it funny to try to figure out, “Okay, do you say verses one through three, or do you say chapter one verses one through three?” Because there’s only one chapter. So, anyway. One through three, we’ll go with that.

So Paul begins, “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy, our brother, to Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, and to Apphia, our sister, and to Archippus, our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

So as we’ve mentioned, Paul is in prison, but notice he says, he’s a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Most of would say, “Well, those Romans put me in prison.” But Paul doesn’t say he’s in prison by the Romans, he says he’s a prisoner of Jesus Christ. He’s he’s in prison of his faith and belief in Jesus Christ. He understands that. As a matter of fact, you look at another book and you read that he didn’t do anything wrong. He says, “I’m not a criminal. I didn’t do anything wrong, but I’ve been put in prison like I am a criminal.” And so he says, “He’s a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” And he says, “Timothy is also with him. Timothy, our brother, is with him.” And he says that in Colossians as well, in part of the introduction, but he addresses the letter, then, to Philemon and to Apphia, and to Archippus, and then to the church that meets in Philemon’s house.

Now, most people understand Apphia to be Philemon’s wife, that’s pretty much accepted by Bible scholars. And then some people think that Archippus is Philemon’s son. And whether he is really Philemon’s son or not, we’re not sure, but it’s likely that Archippus was a leader in the church at Colossae, though, because Paul encourages him in Colossians four, verse 17, he says, “Tell Archippus, See to the ministry which you have received in the Lord so that you may fulfill it.” So Paul in Colossians is talking to Archippus and saying, “Listen, you’ve got a specific ministry to fulfill.” And so it would indicate that Archippus is a leader in that church in Colossae in some way, maybe the church meeting in Philemon’s home.

Then the fact that Paul addresses this letter to the church that meets in Philemon’s home is really interesting because it means that the letter’s going to be read aloud in that church. And when we get into the book of Philemon and see what Paul is asking of Philemon and understanding that it’s going to be read aloud and everybody’s going to hear what Paul’s asking Philemon, you’re going to see that Philemon’s really put on a spot. “What am I to do?” And so, very critical. It adds greatly to the challenge that Paul is going to present to Philemon.

And so, letter of Philemon written to several people and to the church in his house, yet very clearly an individual letter between Paul and Philemon as we’ll see. So let’s keep going in verse four he says, “I thank my God, always… I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have towards the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints. And I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing, which is in you for the sake of Christ. For I have had great joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.”

What an incredible paragraph written about a person. That’s pretty amazing. Paul thanks God and consistently prays for Philemon because he’s heard about his love and about the faith that he has and his love toward not only the Lord, but his love toward the people there in Colossae, all the other Christians. And remember, Paul is in a prison in Rome and Philemon lives in Colossae. It’s 1300 miles between Rome and Colossae. 1300 miles, and yet Paul says, “I’ve heard about you. I’ve heard about you. I’ve heard about your love. I’ve heard about the way you’re treating and encouraging all the Christians.” How does that happen? Well, Colossians helps us understand that again.

Look at Colossians chapter one and we’ll start in verse three. And Paul says in Colossians, “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we’ve heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope reserved for you in heaven and of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, just as in all the world and also it is bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.” Now, listen to this, “just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.”

So here’s what we’ve got going on. Paul says all those good things about Philemon up in verses four through seven, of the book of Philemon. And then he talks about the whole church in Colossae, and he’s talking about the amazing things going on and what they’ve come to understand and how they’ve come to understand it. And he says, “It’s because you learned it from Epaphras.” And he says, “Epaphras is actually here informing us of your love.”

So how does Paul learn about all that stuff? Well, Epaphras is there. And we learn from that, that Epaphras is from the church in Colossae and he’s gone to Rome and he’s ministering to Paul and he’s telling Paul about all the people and the things going on in Colossae. As a matter of fact, we go on to Colossians four, verses 12 and 13, and he reiterates what’s going on, here. He says, “Epaphras, who is one of your own…” Clearly saying that Epaphras belongs to the church in Colossae. He says, “Epaphras, who is one of your own, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, sends you greetings, always striving, earnestly for you in prayer, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.”

And so Epaphras is there with Paul, but he’s a leader of some type in the Colossian church because they learn from him, because he’s been informing Paul and the others in Rome of all that they’ve been doing and all of their love and all their faith, and everything that they do for the believers there. He’s one of their own and he has a deep concern for them. And not only the church in Colossae, but also he says the church in Laodicea and the church in Hierapolis. All three of these cities were fairly close to each other in the same area on the map. And it would indicate that Epaphras has something to do with the group of churches. And so he’s there explaining to Paul, “This is what’s going on with the churches. This is what’s going on with some of the individuals, specifically with Philemon.” He’s helped him understand some of the things.

And then Paul prays this, and this is such a unique thing. He prays that the fellowship of Philemon’s faith would be effective. That’s an interesting thing. That means that the sharing of his faith would be powerful. That statement means that the sharing of Philemon’s faith would be powerful for the sake of Christ, he says in that verse. As Philemon continues to grow and understand everything that’s in him in Christ, then his witness, his sharing of his faith is going to be powerful. It’s going to remain powerful. It’s going to be powerful. It’s going to remain powerful. And really, it’s something that we can be praying for each other, isn’t it? We really can be praying that the sharing of our faith would be powerful for the sake of Jesus Christ, every one of us, when we get that all opportunity. And that as we grow and as we could learn, and as we understand more about what we have in Christ, all the things that we have in Christ, we’re going to begin to understand more and more of that power and understand how it applies to every situation in our life, but especially to share in our faith.

And so if I finally Paul says that he has this great joy and comfort because of Philemon’s love. And because the hearts of the Christians have been refreshed by him. What a great testimony, what a great testimony, wouldn’t it be nice? I think you and I had would praise the Lord if we knew that somehow we had loved on somebody or encouraged somebody or refreshed somebody, or they had found rest in the Lord because of something we had done, some way we had loved on them and stuff. Wouldn’t we be encouraged by that? That’s got to be encouraging to Philemon. And it’s such, such an amazing testimony, these few verses are, in the book of Philemon. But that’s not why Paul wrote. All of this stuff is good, and it’s nice to know about Philemon, and it’s nice to know how amazing he is with the church and with the people there, but that’s not why Paul wrote.

And so let’s look at the few verses starting in verse eight. He says, “Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, yet for love’s sake I’d rather appeal to you -since I am such a person as Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus- I appeal to you for my son, Onesimus, whom I fathered in my imprisonment and who previously was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.”

Paul admits, look, because of my position as an apostle, because of who I am, because of where I’m at, because of what I’ve done for the church, I could order you to do what I’m about to ask you to do. But for love’s sake, I’m not going to do it. I want to extend the same love that I’m just praising God that you have, Philemon, I want to extend that same love to you, so I’m going to make my appeal for love’s sake for Onesimus. Now, Onesimus was Philemon’s slave, and we’re not going to spend a whole bunch of time talking about slavery because that’s not the point of the letter. It suffices to say that slavery was a accepted, practiced, and often written about in the Bible. So, slavery was common at the time.

So Onesimus was Philemon’s slave, and Onesimus, as Paul is going to reveal here soon, had apparently stolen from Philemon. He stole from Philemon and he bolted for Rome. Think about that. Onesimus is going to go to the biggest city he can find close by and get lost, right? He stole from his master, and he’s going to go to Rome and try to get lost because he’s in a lot of trouble. See, under the law, Philemon had every right when he finds Onesimus, to kill him. To not murder him, but to put him to death.

And he actually could have put him to death for two things: one for stealing, and one for taking off, for running away. So Onesimus hits 1,300 miles, remember? I mean, if you could walk from Colossae to Rome and you could average 20 miles a day, which was common at the time because people walked all the time, it’ll still take you 65 days to walk from Colossae to Rome. Now, you can’t do that. You’ve got to get on a boat at some point, but if you could, that’s how long it would’ve taken Onesimus to get. And that’s how bad he wanted to get far, far away from where Philemon was.

So he heads to Rome and he hopes to get lost in Rome. But, praise the Lord, God had a different plan. Onesimus ends up connecting with Paul and he gets saved, he becomes a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul calls him his son in this paragraph. Paul calls him “his son whom he fathered in his imprisonment.” So at some point in time Onesimus and Paul linked up and Paul presented the truths about the Lord Jesus Christ to Onesimus and Onesimus got saved.

What an incredible thing. Here I’m running from my master, and he runs as far away as he can and he meets up with Paul. It’s just amazing the way God would work that out. You know what? It’s interesting the name Onesimus means “useful.” And you kind of see Paul’s little bit of play on words here. He says, “Because Paul says that Onesimus was useless to you. He wasn’t living up to his name, but now he’s useful to you and to me as a fellow believer.” So he, not living up to his name as being useful, but now he is. And Paul’s going to explain a little bit about that in the next set of verses.

So picking up in verse 12, he says, “I’ve sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart whom I wanted to keep with me. So that in your behalf, he might be at my service in my imprisonment for the gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your consent so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion, but of your own free will. For perhaps it was for this reason that he was separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”

So, Onesimus spends enough time with Paul in Rome that he becomes valuable to Paul, valuable to Paul in service, valuable to Paul there in whatever they’re doing to minister to the church and to the people that they’re able to be in contact with in Rome. And he says he actually would like him to stay there with him. I would really like him to stay here in Rome with me because he’s that valuable, but I don’t want to keep him here without your free will consent, Philemon. His place is back with you. He needs to come back with you, so he sends him back. And he says, “I send my very heart with him.” Isn’t that an amazing statement? I send my very heart with him.

Put yourself in Onesimus’ sandals, I guess, for a minute. And remember, Philemon had every right to punish him with death, every right under the law to punish him with death. So Onesimus, in a sense, could be walking back into his very death, but he does it anyway because of what? Because of what Christ has done in his life now. Jesus has changed him. He’s a different man. He’s a new man. And he says, “I’m going to face up to whatever it is. I’m going to trust the Lord and I’m going.”

So Paul says, “Maybe it’s good that this happened with Onesimus. Maybe it’s good that he was here with me for a while and separated from you because he’s going to be coming back to you and he can come back forever, and not as a slave, but as a beloved brother in the Lord. And that’s been Paul’s prayer through the whole thing is wanting him to come back as a brother in the Lord. And he’s valuable, He’s useful, not just to you, but he can become even more useful now in person and in the Lord. He not only now… I mean, he could come back and he could continue to be a slave, but he’s going to be a different kind of slave because now he has a relationship with Jesus. It’s going to make it different for Onesimus, and that’s what Paul’s trying to say.

And listen, don’t miss the dynamics that are going on here. It was important for Onesimus to return to Philemon and face whatever consequences he might run across for his actions. That was an important step, that had to take place. But it’s equally as important for Philemon to struggle with his responsibilities, with Onesimus, as a believer. Both Philemon as a believer, and now Onesimus as a believer. It was important. You’ve got to believe if all those things that Paul said, about Philemon are true, he and his wife and his family had to have prayed before for Onesimus, right? They had to have presented the gospel. They had to have talked to him about Jesus. They had to have spent time praying that he would get saved. This wasn’t just any guy, this was a guy that spent time in their house. They had to have prayed for him and cared enough about him, wanting him to get saved. That makes this dynamics, it adds to it.

And then undoubtedly Philemon had to know this: everybody in Colossae was going to watch and see how he handled Onesimus. Other masters, other slaves, other Christians, everybody in Colossae was going to want to say, “Okay, how does Philemon handle this Onesimus who stole from him and ran away and comes back? How’s he going to handle that? That’s going to say some stuff.” As a matter of fact, I think Philemon really understands the tremendous witness that forgiving Onesimus and reconciling with him as a believer now, as a brother in the Lord, is going to be just a tremendous witness to the church in Colossae. And I think Philemon understood that the opposite is true as well. It could turn into a real negative witness. I think he’s aware of all those things. I think he understands all this stuff as this is developing and Onesimus is standing in front of him, handing in this letter with Tychicus. It would be amazing.

Let’s pick up in verse 17. Paul really wants to help the situation out. It’s a difficult situation for Philemon. And Paul says, “I want to help you out here. I want to give you somewhat of a solution for this whole thing. In verse 17, he says this, “If you regard me as a partner, accept him as you would me.” He says, “Accept Onesimus as you would me.” We’ve talked about how close their relationship was. He says, “But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, have written this with my own hand. I will repay.”

He’s making it clear he’s standing up for Onesimus. He says, “… (not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self as well). Yes, brother, let me benefit from you and the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you since I know that you will do even more than I say.” Paul’s final appeal to Philemon is, “Accept Onesimus as you would me. If you count me as a partner, if you count me as to have a common faith and fellowship with you, accept Onesimus as you would. Receive him into your family, just like you would me. And listen, if he owes you anything,” because remember that this is an indication that he’s stolen, “if he owes you anything, I’ll pay it, charge it to me. I’ll cover it. I love him that much, that I’m going to take care of it for him. Clear his account with you, Philemon.”

And I love that we’re getting close to Easter. Easter’s such a wonderful time of year, but isn’t that exactly what Jesus did for us on the cross? He says, “Look, I love you so much. Paid the price in full. I paid the price that you should pay for your sins, forgave every one of them. By faith and belief in me, you can be reconciled to God. That’s why Paul is praying for Philemon and Onesimus, that they’d be reconciled together, that they’d forgive each other. And Philemon would forgive Onesimus and be reconciled to God. God accepts us into his family because of Jesus. That’s pretty amazing. That’s what Paul is asking Philemon to do with Onesimus.

And Paul reminds Philemon, “Not to mention, I loved you so much that I shared the truths about who Jesus Christ is to you. You believed, and now you’ve been reconciled to God and you’ve been accepted into his family. Remember? You were saved because of my ministry, is basically what he’s saying.” So we get that Paul’s desire is to see Philemon forgive Onesimus and that the relationship would be reconciled. To see Philemon receive Onesimus now as a fellow believer, just like he would receive Paul. The same way he would receive Paul. And see his value now is being useful to Philemon, to the church and to Paul, to everyone now. He has value.

Think about what’s going on, here. I love Paul’s heart because remember Paul’s in prison. Paul’s in prison in Rome. And honestly, at this time, Paul’s being treated pretty well. I mean, he’s in house in Rome, he’s been given certain privileges. He’s eventually going to be released. He’s going to be released this time and end up back in prison in Rome another time, but Paul’s still in prison. And you know the way the Romans were: at any time, Paul could face execution. And yet his concern is for Philemon and Onesimus. For Philemon to forgive Onesimus and for their relationship to be reconciled. That’s pretty amazing. When we’re going through tough stuff, how much do we think about that other person and what they have happening in their lives? It’s pretty tough to think about others when we’re going through tough stuff. And Paul’s heart and his desire was for these brothers in the Lord.

He says, “Let me benefit in the Lord from your actions, refresh my heart the same way that you refresh the heart of the believers in Colossae. Refresh my heart that same way.” And he says, “I think you will. I really do. I think you’re going to do it.” That’s why he has confidence to even write to him. And he says, “I think you’re going to do even more than I ask.” We don’t know what that is, but it doesn’t matter. Paul has that confidence in Philemon that he’s going to take care of things and he’s going to do even more than Paul asks. And let me just say, man, we could sure use more Christians who are willing to forgive and reconcile with their brothers and sisters in the Lord, couldn’t we?

Relationships are such a challenge. We could sure use more Christians who benefit from forgiving and reconciling with each other. And I guess that’s one of the prayers this morning as well, is that Paul’s appeal to Philemon and Onesimus would stir our hearts as well. Do we have someone that we need to forgive? Do we have someone that we really could be reconciled with for the glory of God? Not because of us, not because of anything that’s going on in our life, not because of any power that we can even muster up to do it, but for the glory of God.

Paul ends this letter in a kind of a unique little way, starting in verse 22. He says, “At the same time also prepare me a guest room, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.” Paul says, “I’m looking forward to being released. And one of the things I’m going to do when I am, is I’m going to come and see you. I’m going to come by you, so prepare a room.” He says, “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

The people that Paul mentions here, it’s interesting and helpful to us. We’ve already met Epaphras, and Epaphras is obviously from Colossae. But now Paul says that he’s a fellow prisoner in Christ. And so we see that he is in prison in some way with Paul. Now, whether it’s voluntary or whether something’s going on and Epaphras has been thrown in prison, we don’t know. But he says, “He’s my fellow prisoner.”

Then I’m going to skip Mark for a minute. Then he mentions Aristarchus. Aristarchus is from Thessalonica, and Aristarchus went on one of the journeys with Paul to Jerusalem. So he’s been a believer for quite a while and a faithful companion of Paul. And he mentions Demas. He calls Demas one of his fellow workers. Here, back in Philippians, he calls Demas a fellow worker as well, understanding this was written at about the same time. He calls him a fellow worker, but unfortunately, by the time he writes the book of Second Timothy, he says about Demas that, “He’s deserted me because he loved the world more.” And probably only six or seven years from the time he’s writing this book of Philemon and the time he wrote the book of Philippians, until he writes Second Timothy, now Demas has deserted him. That’s kind of a sad thing.

He talks about Luke, the beloved physician, Colossians calls him. And obviously, the writer of the gospel of Luke and the writer of Acts. But he talks about Mark, and the unique thing about Mark is Paul’s not just saying “I’m praying for and I desire that you would forgive Onesimus, Philemon, and reconcile to him.” He throws in an example of it right here, a perfect example in Mark. Do you remember, Mark, in Acts, Paul and Barnabas were set apart for the work of the Lord and they were getting ready to go on that first missionary journey. And they took John-Mark along with them. That’s the person we’re talking about here, Mark. And somewhere along the way in the journey, Mark heads back to Jerusalem. Something goes on and there’s a bunch of speculation as to why. Whatever it was, Mark heads back to Jerusalem.

Eventually Paul and Barnabas get ready to go on another missionary journey, and Barnabas wants to take Mark again, and Paul says, “No way, Mark deserted us. He’s not useful to us because he deserted us.” And Barnabas is getting a little bit of contention over that. Barnabas and John-Mark head off this way, Paul and Silas head off this way. They continue to serve the Lord. They continue to bring people to the Lord and tell people about Jesus. But listen, ultimately we get to this place where Paul calls Mark a fellow worker. And then, when we get to Second Timothy again, you know what he calls Mark? He says, “Bring mark with you because he’s useful to me.” What a beautiful picture right there in Mark of this forgiveness and reconciliation that we’re talking about.

Paul could have gone on about that and he didn’t, with Philemon right here, but Paul has such a strong desire to see Philemon forgive Onesimus and the two of them to be reconciled as brothers in the Lord. And to enjoy the same kind of relationship that Paul and Philemon enjoy together. That’s really what he wants. He said, “I want you guys to have that.”

And I guess that’s really my challenge to us this morning as well. If you’ve got somebody you need to forgive, forgive them. I know it’s hard. I know probably one of the hardest things we do as believers is forgive. But if you know someone, you know if you have to forgive someone. Forgive them. Be reconciled to each other as fellow believers in the Lord. That’s what’s going to honor our God. You can do it right now if you need to. That’s the good a thing about this. You can do it right after service. You can do it anytime, but let forgiveness and reconciliation be the mark of our lives as believers and as our church. Because when we do, I think we’ll be amazed to see what God’s going to do with humble hearts that are surrendered to Him and desire relationships that honor Him. A forgiven relationship and a reconciled relationship honors our Lord in a great way.

I mean, isn’t that really what Easter’s all about? Ain’t that what we look forward to with Easter? Jesus is alive. What an incredible thing to realize. What a fun thing to be able to tell people. There’s no other religion that can say, “The one we follow is alive.” Just Christianity. Jesus is alive, and if you place your faith and belief in Him, He’s alive in you right now. And He gives you the power to forgive and the power to reconcile if you need to. And listen, he says this. He says, “Love the way I’ve loved you. Forgive the way I’ve forgiven you. And in every place that you have the power, wherever you have the ability, live at peace with those around you.” Those are the things Jesus says because He gives us the power to do it. I think we’ll be amazed at what we’ll see, the difference we’ll see not only in our lives, but in the lives of others within the church body as we forgive and reconcile.