The book of Philemon may be short, but its 25 verses pack a powerful spiritual punch. Paul’s letter to his Christian brother Philemon gives us a window into Paul’s personal life and relationships, showing us how the apostle lived out his faith in real life. We see a side of Paul we sometimes miss. Paul wasn’t just the bold evangelist and fierce protector of the truth of the Gospel. This letter shows us Paul’s compassion for others and the joy he experienced in relationships.
Although the letter doesn’t give us all the particulars, we can grasp the basic situation. The slave Onesimus, after running away from his master Philemon, encountered Paul in prison and accepted Jesus through Paul’s efforts. Paul wrote to his friend and fellow believer Philemon to urge him to treat his slave in a Christlike manner. Although we cannot identify with the particular situation Paul addresses here, this brief book strongly demonstrates faith principles and personal characteristics we should emulate in our own lives today. Although not the only principles found in Philemon, the following ten characteristics will help us navigate our own complicated relationships in a way that pleases and honors God and builds up the Church.
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