Paul, who has a heart for equality, writes a letter to Philemon in hopes of altering the servant/master relationship. Onesimus, Philemon’s slave, fled to Rome where he encountered Paul and converted to Christianity. Paul says in the letter that possibly the Lord brought Onesimus to Rome so that he could receive Christ and return to his master, still as a servant but one that is free in Christ and equal to his master as brothers in Christ – “For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him 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.”
Paul says he would repay anything the servant might owe and ends the letter with the assurance that Philemon would be obedient and receive Onesimus as his fellow brother in Christ.
While still imprisoned in Rome, Paul writes a letter to the Philippians. He comforts the Philippians by telling them “that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Paul is aware that the Lord wastes nothing. God even uses Paul’s imprisonment to further His name.
Paul is not afraid of chains or death because he knows that it would be better for him to die since he would be in heaven with Jesus Christ, without any pain or suffering. But Paul says, “Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith.” Paul understands his purpose. He knows that the Lord has kept him alive to share Christ with others, and he joyfully fulfills that purpose regardless of his circumstances.
Paul’s life is an example to the Philippians, and he instructs them to walk in the same manner – “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”
Paul encourages the Philippians to be humble like Jesus was humble while He was on earth – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Therefore, let’s live boldly for Jesus in light of that day, when every knee will bow to Him! Keep reading.
(Philemon 1:1-25, Philippians 1:1-2:11)