Paul helps his friend Philemon reconcile with his escaped former slave Onesimus.
Paul urges Philemon to forgive Onesimus and accept him back as an equal. Because they are both followers of Jesus, God's grace has made them partners under the new humanity that Jesus has established.
While Paul doesn't mention Jesus' death and resurrection directly in this letter, he offers to take on any punishment Onesimus deserves, a demonstration of what Jesus did on the cross. He encourages Philemon to do the same as he reconciles to Onesimus before God.
Living Out the Gospel's Message
One of Paul's shortest and the most explosive letters, the book of Philemon demonstrates the Gospel through action. It's written to Philemon whose slave Onesimus ran away and became a believer under Paul's teaching.
Slave vs. Master
Philemon is a believer in Jesus and Paul's fellow worker. His slave Onesimus ran away but became a believer who ministers to Paul in prison.
Followers of Jesus must recognize and act on the truth that his people are equal partners who share the gift of God's love and grace.
Paul asks Philemon to embrace God's new humanity, forgive his former slave Onesimus, and welcome him back as a brother, partner, and equal in Christ.
The Gospel In Action
Paul willingly takes on any consequences of Onesimus' wrongdoing so that Onesimus and Philemon can reconcile before God and to each other as equal partners.
Paul ends the book of Philemon with an affirmation that he's confident Philemon will do what he requested and more regarding accepting and forgiving Onesimus.