Thursday after the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Posted on September 15, 2022 byunder
Scripture: Philemon 1-25 (NKJV)
1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, 2 to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
8 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ—10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.
12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. 14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.
15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, 16 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.
17 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides. 20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord.
21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.
25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
That which St. Paul wrote to Philemon concerning his slave, Onesimus, testifies to the ongoing work of the Law in the Christian as a guide to God-pleasing works. As St. Paul explained, he sent Onesimus back to Philemon even though he might have demanded that Philemon free him: “But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.” The apostle proclaimed the Word so that Philemon might know that good work which is pleasing in the sight of the Lord.
Repeatedly, the apostle noted that he could command Philemon—but he quite pointedly does not use that authority. Instead, St. Paul declared, “Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.” The apostle knew Philemon’s character, as he knew the character of Onesimus— now a “beloved brother” to both Paul and Philemon. It is thus that Paul wrote, “If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me.” How could Philemon keep Onesimus enslaved while Paul told Philemon to receive him even as he would receive Paul?
Bound together in holy Baptism, our faith in the Christ has ongoing implications for our relationship with one another. The vertical relationship which the Lord has established with us necessarily places us in a horizontal connection with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Prayer: Almighty and Everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and that we may obtain that which Thou dost promise, make us to love that which Thou dost command; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.