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
Philemon's Love and Faith
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 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.
The Plea for Onesimus
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
12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my
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, as a beloved brother,
especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the
Philemon's Obedience Encouraged
17 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me.
18 But if he has wronged you or owes you anything, put that on my
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.
The Law of Connection: Paul Connects, Then Asks for Help
In the very personal letter of Philemon, Paul asks his friend to do
something very difficult; graciously receive back a runaway slave. Before
he confronts Philemon, Paul connects by walking through the following stages
of conflict management:
Problem Solving: Healthy Confrontation and Resolution
The best way to solve many problems is to confront them. Sometimes those
problems are people. Paul took great pains to confront Philemon about Onesimus.
Consider these steps for confronting someone:
The compliment stage (4-7) Paul affirmed Philemon and reminded him of his
love. Good leaders begin confrontation with affirmation. They focus on
The compromise stage (8-13) Before his appeal, Paul concedes the present
status of the slave, Onesimus. Good leaders own some responsibility for
the conflict and recognize their differences.
The choice stage (14) Paul sought the consent of Philemon to send back
Onesimus. He laid out the challenge to receive him. In this stage, leaders
clearly articulate the decision in front of both parties.
The challenge stage (15-20) Paul challenged Philemon to do what was right.
He committed to steps he'd take to make things right, but issued a challenge
to Philemon to respond and take the high road.
The confidence stage (21-22) Paul expressed confidence in Philemon that
he would, indeed, do what was right in the sight of God. Paul believed
the best about his friend and communicated his love for him.
[Mary Carter Agreement]
[Bias vs. Wright]
Pray through your own anger. Don't let emotion lead you. Wait until you
can be objective.
Initiate the contact. Don't wait for the other person. God calls us to
make things right.
Begin with affirmation. Encourage first, then receive permission to talk
Admit you have a problem. Don't say it's the other person's problem; admit
you are struggling.
Bring up the issue and explain you don't understand what's happened. Aim
Let the person respond. After you lay out the issue, let the individual
speak from his or her angle.
Narrow the focus. Identify and prioritize the issues. Go after one change
at a time.
Establish forgiveness and repentance, if needed. Don't stop until change
Compromise on opinions, not on principles. Be
flexible with everything except the truth.
Pray and affirm your love as you close. Never let the person doubt God's
love or yours.
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