Introduction:This letter, written by the Apostle Paul, the prisoner of God's grace, was written for Philemon.
Chapter 1 (CSB)
Verse 1: Paul considered himself not only a prisoner of man, but a prisoner of God. Indeed, Paul's story was one of how God captivates sinners with his grace. You look at how he met Jesus in Acts chapter 9 and this is obvious. So Paul's life was one of being Christ's captive not because he was a missionary in chains, but because Christ intervened in his human existence and saved him. Christ encountered him on purpose, Paul encountered him on accident. Paul was not looking for the risen Christ when Christ found him. But when Christ did find him, Paul truly became his captive. Therefore Paul is not doing ministry alone, he is Christ's prisoner and in his kingdom. As Christ's prisoner he has a partner, Timothy. A funny thing about Christ's prisoners is that are all adopted family members. Therefore, Paul calls Timothy his brother. And not only does Paul call Timothy his brother, but Philemon's brother. The unity of Christ's prisoner family is cross cultural and diverse. Unity in diversity is reality (or it ought to be) in the church. Because of that we are also called friends as Philemon is. Philemon is not just some friend, but a dear friend to Paul and Timothy. Paul treasures the relationship he has with this person. He's also a friend of God like Abraham was because of his partnership with Paul's mission. Notice also, Paul equates Philemon with the same status he has, prisoner. He call him a coworker. Paul sees Philemon as a person with the same mission as him. The Gospel being that mission.
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