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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, June 26, 2020

Colossians 4:7-9/Philemon 10-25 (L 28)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                         Published: June 26, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
*********************************************************************************************** 
Welcome back to HBS everyone.  Grace and Peace to y’all.

I pray y’all are well and growing in knowledge of God and knowledge of His will.  Wisdom” is the use of knowledge to reach the desired goal, so having knowledge and using knowledge are two different things.  It’s possible to know many things and yet be unwise.  Take earthly wisdom for example it appeals to the emotions and the five senses.  In contrast, the wisdom that is from God reflects Him, so, according to our apostle Paul the goal of wisdom is to lead people to Christ Jesus:


Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.  Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:5-6).

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;” (Colossians 1:9-10).

Verse 1:10 expresses the reason why Paul prayed the Colossians are to obtain knowledge of God’s will.  It is so that they may “walk” (live) worthy so as to please God.  Verses1:10b thru 1:12 precisely define what a “worthy walk” looks like.  The Believer is: 1) “fruitful in every good work;” 2) “increasing in the knowledge of God;” 3) “strengthened with all might;” and 4) “giving thanks unto the Father.”

Last week we briefly set aside our study of Colossians 4 for a verse-by-verse study of Paul’s letter to a Colossian saint named Philemon based on its applicability to Colossians 4:8-9:
“…(Tychius) Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; With Onesimus (O-neh--sih-muhs), a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.  They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.”

Philemon was a man of wealth and he owned slaves.  One of these slaves was Onesimus.  For some unknown reason he ran away from his master.  He added insult to injury by stealing something from him before he left.  Thus, this letter concerns three people:  Philemon, Onesimus, and Paul, and their interactions with one another.  But it is also addressed to the members of the house church in Colosse (v.2).  You see, in Paul’s day Believers often depended on wealthy members to provide a place for them to meet.  Last week I offered Priscilla and Aquilla as one example of this truth (see Romans 16:5; and 1 Corinthians 16:19).  The business-woman “Lydia” in Acts 16 is another.  After “the Lord opened her heart” to receive Paul’s gospel, she hosted the first house church on Greek soil.

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Please open your Bible at Philemon 10-13.

In these verses Paul put Philemon's spiritual maturity to the test.  Would he allow the natural influences of the “old man,” to rule his heart and mind or would his “love” prove strong enough to overcome the earthly desire to punish Onesimus for his wrongdoing.  The phrase “What would Jesus Do” comes to mind here because having “the mind of Christ” is directly related to one’s spiritual maturity.

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies (and there is), Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let
nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:1-5).

Let’s start with Philemon 10-11:

beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten (led to Christ) in my bonds (as a prisoner of Christ): which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:

In verse 10 we learn Onesimus is not the man he used to be.  When he met Paul he was a rebellious sinner; a slave on the run and a thief.  But now he’s so much more than that.  You see, God’s grace changes hearts and minds (lives).  It’s not out of the ordinary for the new Believer to examine their past life and experience regret and/or shame.  I imagine the same was true for Onesimus.  He might have told Paul about his sinful past which no doubt included the “wrongs” he committed against Philemon.  I base this on my knowledge of verses 11 and 18.    

Paul makes a compelling argument to Philemon in verse 10 in saying, “beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten (led to Christ) in my bonds:  The Law commanded, “This do and thou shalt live” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33); but God’s grace “beseeches,” that is, it requests and that’s the attitude Paul expresses here in saying, “I implore you to forgive “my son” Onesimus for the wrong he has done, “Even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). 

Verse 11.  

What’s in a Name?

which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:

In Paul’s day names had a great significance attached to them.  Onesimus’ name meant “profitable or helpful.”  But he was anything but helpful.  He was a rebellious sinner who had hardened his heart against God, betrayed his master’s trust, and he’s now a thief having fled with something that belonged to Philemon.  Paul used a bit of word-play in saying, (Onesimus was) unprofitable” (unhelpful) to you in the past, but in the future he will prove to be profitable (helpful) or live up to his name.”  The implication is as Onesimus had proved “profitable” to Paul and to the ministry, upon his return he would prove himself to be “helpful” to Philemon. 

Verse 12.

“…whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:”

Onesimus had endeared himself to Paul to such an extent that his departure would cause him emotional discomfort.  But Paul isn’t sending him back to Philemon alone and empty handed.  He sent along with him Tychicus and this letter which was meant “to smooth the way,” so to speak, for his return. 

Verses 13-14.

“…whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: but without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.”

Paul might have reasoned Onesimus’ slate had been wiped clean (he had been forgiven), which is why he said, “whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:  or “he would prove helpful to me here in Rome in ministering to me and the furtherance of the gospel.” Evidently, Paul thought Philemon would understand where he’s coming from with this, but we note he  didn’t pull the “I’m an apostle of the Lord card,” i.e., exert his apostolic authority, which he certainly could have done.  But here’s the thing, he valued Philemon’s friendship far too much to take advantage of him.  As it stands, Paul is keenly aware Onesimus is the property of his friend, thus, the decision was Philemon’s to make.    

Here we learn grace always does what is right (Colossians 3:17, 23).  It literally takes years and years to earn the respect of others, but it can be lost in a moment of time.  This is why it is so essential to maintain a consistent godly testimony, or as I like to put it, “Follow Paul who followed Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Verses 15-19.

For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?  If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.  If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.”

For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever;” (v. 15). 

Verse 15 continues Paul’s plea to Philemon to forgive Onesimus.  It also adds a possible explanation behind his departure.  Paul said, “perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever;” This statement was probably meant to soften the fact that he was a disobedient, runaway slave.  These words reflect Paul’s teaching that God has a positive purpose for everything that happens in the life of the Believer (Romans 8:28).  Paul’s saying the negative event of Onesimus departure has led to a positive event for now he is a Believer in Christ Jesus.  In essence Paul’s saying, “Onesimus may have departed from you wearing the garments of a runaway slave, but I am sending him back to you clothed in the righteousness of Christ.”  Therefore, “receive him as myself:” (v. 17b). 

Verse 16.

Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?

Here we learn Paul’s gospel transforms people’s lives .  Onesimus would return to Philemon as a trusted “servant” of the Lord.  So, it could be said Philemon now has a brother for a slave; but it’s also true “in the Lord,” he has a slave for a brother. 

Please note what’s missing here.  Paul does not reveal the sordid details of Onesimus’ sinful past.  It serves no good purpose in bringing his wrongdoing into the spotlight again and again.  The past is best forgotten; this a good life-lesson for us all to remember and practice (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). 

Verse 17.

If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.

Here Paul amplifies his request for Onesimus to be set free by appealing to his own friendship with Philemon, referring to him as “a partner.”  The word “If” introduces a conditional statement (If then you regard me…”  Paul assumed Philemon would accept this condition as true.  Pau’s request is that Philemon would receive Onesimus as though it were Paul himself.  Once again, this phrase supports the view that Paul is asking for Onesimus’ freedom, not just his forgiveness (v. 16).  Think this through.  How else could Philemon accept Onesimus as he would our apostle Paul? 

Verses 18-19.

If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;

This is a continuation of Paul’s request of Philemon to treat Onesimus as he would himself.

If he hath wronged thee - Onesimus didn’t just run away from his master he was also a thief.  From what I understand a slave running away and taking with them things that belonged to their master was not an uncommon event in Paul’s day.  In other words it wasn’t exactly front-page news.  A slave on the run would need money for obvious reasons and their masters were usually quite wealthy.  It’s possible Onesimus stole from Philemon because he “felt” he owed him.  But it’s also possible he stole because he needed to finance his escape. 

The word “If,” implies Onesimus had committed a wrong by fleeing from his master, or by failing to perform a task that had been assigned to him, or by stealing his personal property as he fled, any and all of these concerns would meet all that is said here.  But here’s the thing it’s impossible to determine from the text which of these wrongs Onesimus had committed.  We also note Paul does not say he had “wronged” him; he merely implied he might have.  Of course there are at least two sides to every story, so from Philemon’s perspective there may be no doubt at all that a wrong had been committed.  So whatever Paul’s views might have been, in layman’s terms, he was saying, “even if that is so, he would prefer that Philemon put the loss to his account.”  In addition to that, Paul would like Philemon to forgive Onesimus’ transgressions and not hold them against him.  Simply said forgiving others who have “wronged” us is a sign of spiritual maturity (Colossians 3:12-13).

or oweth thee ought” – here Paul might be implying Onesimus, whatever his former state, was capable of holding property and contracting debts.  He might have borrowed money from Philemon, he might have been a tenant of his and failed to pay him money owed, such as, rent on farmland, or perhaps he owed Philemon money for services which he had not performed, i.e., work left undone.  Whatever the case might be, the bottom line is we do not know, so, conjecture only serves as an exercise for one’s mind.  We are not told how the debt came about or what it is, so I prefer to move on.  If you’re that interested in knowing the truth, you can ask him when you meet him in glory. 

put that on mine account” – once again, Onesimus’s misbehavior is not mentioned.  People assume Paul’s referring to his thievery, but I prefer not to read between the lines, i.e., assume that’s what he meant.  Whatever the loss might be Paul clearly said, credit (impute) it “to mine account.”  The term impute means “to credit or ascribe (something) to a person or a cause.  In scripture, the righteousness of Christ Jesus is credited (imputed) to the saved individual’s account:  But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (Romans 4:22, 5:17, 19, Galatians 3:6).  To be clear, Paul just said he would pick up “the tab” for Philemon’s wrongdoing. 

Verse 19a.

I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it:

“I Paul have written it with mine own hand” – from this verse we learn Paul wrote this entire epistle with his own hand which made this communication very personal.   Normally Paul dictated his thoughts to a scribe, such as, Tertius (Tur-shi-us) in his letter to church at Rome (Romans 16:22; see also 1 Corinthians 16:21).  Paul’s imprisonment might have led him to pen this letter in his own hand simply because there was no one else.  That’s my opinion, so don’t count it as factual. 

I will repay it” – that is, I will be security for it.  It could be said this letter and pledge of the apostle Paul to Philemon stands as his “promissory note” (a signed document containing a written promise to pay a stated sum to a specified person or the bearer at a specified date or on demand).  Therefore this letter could serve as a legal document, evidence in a civil suit, in which Philemon could lawfully sue Paul or his estate for damages.  This couldn’t be done legally without Paul’s permission and he has clearly given it. 
Verse 19b.

albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.”

Here Paul implies Philemon’s conversion could be traced to Paul’s labor in the ministry:

 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?  and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  But they have not all obeyed the gospel.  For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:13-17). 
 
Paul’s saying Philemon is indebted to him, therefore the kindness asked of him now pales in comparison with Paul’s labor of love.    

Verse 20.

Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.”

 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: -  in other words, “show me this favor in receiving my brother beloved, as I request, and refresh my heart. The phrase, “in the Lord” appears to mean, if this request is met favorably, Philemon would recognize the hand of the Lord in it, and should therefore receive it as though the Lord Himself asked this favor of him. 

refresh my bowels in the Lord.” – when most people read a phrase such as this it throws them off-kilter.  But there’s no reason for that.  If I can find the definitions for biblical terms such as this, so can you.  When Paul writes about “my bowels,” he’s not referring to his GI tract.  It’s a term that refers to “the seat of affection;” most commonly, the human heart.  The reasoning behind this is any deeply felt emotion impacts this vital organ.  Who among us has not experienced a broken heart, for example?  This is the idea Paul means to convey to Philemon.  Paul previously referred to Onesimus as “my son,” and a “brother beloved;” both of these statements come from Paul’s heart.  So it’s not a stretch to say he has a tender affection for Onesimus, and the thought of any harm coming to him by way of Philemon caused him great concern.

The term “refresh” is a military term meaning, “to give rest to, to give repose” before engaging in the next battle.  It also means “free from sorrow or care.” This is how Paul used it here.  He’s saying, “Should you receive Onesimus back as a “brother beloved,” my great concern would becomejoy” (v. 7). 

Verse 21.

Having (what) confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more that I say.”

Said differently, Paul was certain Philemon would go that extra mile or he would “do more” than Paul asked of him.  Paul expressed “confidence” in the fact that Philemon would obediently take this letter to heart and receive Onesimus not as a disobedient slave but as his fellow brother in the Lord. 

Verse 22.

But without (whatever you decide) prepare me also a lodging; for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.”

But without” – whichever way you choose to go, “prepare me also a lodging (in your home).  In Paul’s day there were no Holiday Inn Express hotels; he relied on the hospitality of others (Romans 12:13; Ephesians 6:7; Colossians 3:23-24).   

for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you” -  Paul’s believed God would respond to the prayers of the Colossian saints favorably and they would help him gain his freedom.  We know Paul was released from his first imprisonment in Rome and supposedly made a missionary trip to Spain.  But there’s no record of this undertaking in the N.T.  There’s also no record of Paul ever visiting Colosse.  However, the prospect of Paul visiting Philemon’s home surely motivated him to put his house in order and respond to Paul’s requests in this letter graciously.  Paul included many prayers for the saints in his writings.  Only a few times do we find him asking the saints to pray for him.  But in those prayers we come to realize he stands as the Believers’ example of a consistent prayer life.  We also come to know the heart of the man (Romans 15:30-33; 2 Corinthians 1:10-11; Ephesians 6:19-20; Philippians 1:19-20; Colossians 4:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2; Philemon 22.)

Verses 23-25.

There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen.”

There salute thee Epaphras my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus” or in “the cause of Christ” - verse 23 begins the conclusion of Philemon, running through verse 25.  Here Paul includes a greeting from Epaphras, described as Paul’s “fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus.”  This tells us, like Paul, he was jailed for “walking worthy.”  Paul also mentioned him twice in Colossians.  In verse 1:7 Paul described him as a faithful missionary who brought the gospel to Philemon and others that now make up the house church in Colosse.  He also brought news of this church to Paul in Rome.   Colossians 4:12 suggests not only was he a citizen of Colosse, in fact, he was a member of that house church or as Paul put it, he’s one of you:  Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12).   

Verse 24.

Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, and Lucas my fellowlabourers” – Marcus is none other than John Mark, the author of the gospel Mark, a Jewish Christian, but he was not an apostle of the Lord.  He’s Barnabas’ nephew (Colossians 4:10).  The Jewish Believers met in John Mark’s mother’s home in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12).  He later joined Paul and Barnabas on the apostle’s first missionary journey (Acts 13:5), but he deserted them in Pamphylia  before the work was done (Acts 15:38).  Sometime later after Paul and Barnabas retuned from their first missionary journey, Paul expressed the desire to return to the churches they had planted in the cities they had previously visited to see how they were doing (Acts 15:36).  Barnabas agreed, apparently upon the provision they take John Mark with them.  Paul refused to have him on the trip, however, citing his previous desertion.  Paul thought it best not to have a quitter with them; they needed someone more dependable.  Paul and Barnabas had a “sharp disagreement” about John Mark (Acts 15:39) and wound up separating from each other and going on separate journeys.  Barnabas took John Mark with him to Cyprus, and Paul took Silas with him through Syria and Cilicia to encourage the Believers in the churches in those areas (Acts 15:36–41).

Mark is also mentioned in Colossians 4:11 and is also seen with Peter (1 Peter 5:13) and again in 2 Timothy 4:11 as Paul’s helper for they had reconciled their differences.

Aristarchus had traveled with Paul in the past (Acts 19-29, 20:4) and was mentioned as a fellow prisoner with Paul in Rome (Colossians 4:10).     

Demas was also mentioned alongside Luke in Colossians 4:14.  Unfortunately, according to 2 Timothy 4:10, Demas abandoned Paul. 

Luke is the author of Acts and the gospel of Luke but he too was not an apostle.  He became a follower of Jesus after His death.  He worked as a missionary with Paul, and was with him in Rome during his imprisonment.  It is significant that both Mark and Luke were together during this time.  Both of their gospels were likely written close to this time, as they were both in Rome. 

Verse 25.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen.”

This closing phrase was also used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:14, Philippians 4:23, and 2 Timothy 4:22.  This expression reveals Paul held these folks in high regard.  But this is the only personal letter by Paul in the N.T. where this same phrase is used, which indicates a fondness for his friend Philemon. 

The final phrase “be with your spirit” refers to Philemon’s spirit, not the Holy Spirit; note the small “s” in spirit, and again speaks of Paul’s love for his brother in the Lord.

To me this riveting story ended like an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  It leaves you hanging because no clear ending is shown.  The Bible does not tell us what happened when Onesimus showed up on Philemon’s doorstep, however, we trust that “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

(To be continued)

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Friday, June 19, 2020

Colossians 4:7-9 and Philemon 1-9 (L 27)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                         Published: June 19, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
***********************************************************************************************
Welcome back to HBS.

Last week we looked at the Believer’s relationship to the lost (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).  It is with this truth in mind Paul closed his prayer saying, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without (Christ, i.e., the lost), redeeming the time” (4:5a).

Because Paul had to address this spiritual concern indicates the Colossians were not sharing God’s truths with the unsaved and untaught.  It also implies these saints ought to get busy doing that very thing.  Paul had a similar message for the saints in Ephesus: “See then that ye walk circumspectly (intelligently), not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).

Both Ephesians and Colossians were written circa 62 AD and were delivered to those churches by Paul’s “fellow servant in the LordTychicus (Tih-kih-kuhs).  In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he wrote: “Walk in wisdom…” and to the Ephesians he said: “be careful to walk circumspectly…”  Paul’s saying Believers ought to understand God’s program for the dispensation of grace, because the days are evil, and because no one but God the Father knows when the Age of Grace will end.  It could end in the next ten minutes by the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds to take away His Church whereupon the age of judgment will commence.  Thus, like sand through an hour-glass, time is running out on the this dispensation and the opportunity to “maintain good works:”

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.  These things are good and profitable unto men.  But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain” (Titus 3:8-9).

In 1 Thessalonians 5:5 Paul wrote: “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”  Sad to say, many Christians today are not walking as “children of light.”  While the lost live their lives  in spiritual darkness, the majority of Christendom walks carelessly, unintelligently, and in fear completely unaware of God’s plan and purpose for His Church today.  They show little interest in discussing spiritual concerns with “them that are without (Christ).”  In that respect, they are not “walking in wisdom,” or “circumspectly.”

Paul used the word “saints” quite often.  Just so you know it is another term for true Believers.  It refers to their present standing because of their new relationship with Christ.  It also signified their separation from the world.  Paul referred to the Colossians as faithful although the contents of the letter indicates some, if not all, were not faithful.  They were in Christ and possessed a new identity, they were children of God, they had found the true meaning for life in Christ, and they are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).  But here’s the thing, they were living in Colosse, i.e., the world.  Their position in Christ should not render them silent and they ought not regard themselves so spiritual as to be out of touch with their peers.  They were expected to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8), i.e., live out their faith.  They are to share the good news of the mystery with “every man” (4:4-5).

So then, that was the situation in Colosse back then, and nothings’ changed.  Inspiring others and warning “them that are without,” about the coming judgment, i.e., the wrath of God is the responsibility of every true Believer.  It is with these concerns in mind Paul exhorted the Colossians to share God’s truths “in wisdom,” that is, carefully and intelligently saying, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.  Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (4:6).

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Please open your Bible at Colossians 4:7-9.

All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;

It’s remarkable that no less than ten people are mentioned by name in these remaining verses which reveals something about the character of Paul, the Lord’s bond servant.  Because of his great concern for the lost he preached the mystery to small groups and large such as the people on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-31), and wherever he went he had a great deal on his mind one of which was his concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:128).  He often had one or more of his co-workers by his side, and he sent people here and there to carry his letters and to make known the mystery in other places.  And yet, despite all these things, he showed great interest and sometimes deep concern about one of more of these people, which reveals the heart of the man.  It is with these thoughts in mind I now introduce y’all to Paul’s “fellowservant in the LordTychicus (Tih-kih-kuhs).  I wouldn’t be surprised to learn you have never heard of him.  He is one of the Bible personalities that goes unnoticed even though his name appears five times in the N. T.  However his contributions to the ministry are both enduring and noteworthy.

We first meet Tychicus in Acts 20:4 during Paul’s third missionary journey.  He is mentioned as one of Paul’s companions on the way from Corinth to Jerusalem to deliver a gift to the church there (Romans 15:25–26).  We learn that Tychicus was a native of Asia, or what we would call Asia Minor today.  He is called a “dear brother” of Paul’s and a “faithful servant” of the Lord’s (Ephesians 6:21).  In Colossians 4:7, Tychicus was a “faithful minister and fellowservant” who was with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment.  Tychicus escorted the runaway slave Onesimus back to his master Philemon in Colosse.   He also delivered Paul’s epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians and he brought these assemblies news of Paul’s “state” (his present status): “Tychicus will tell you all the news about me,” “I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts” (Colossians 4:7–8).  Inspiration is also mentioned as part of his ministry in Ephesians 6:22.

Paul intended to send either Tychicus or another man to Crete in order to give Titus a chance to visit him (Titus 3:12).  Later, he was with Paul in Rome during his second Roman imprisonment, and Paul sent him on to Ephesus in order to free up Timothy for a visit (2 Timothy 4:12).  In both Crete and Ephesus, then, Tychicus was an “interim pastor” of sorts, filling in for Titus and Timothy.

To be sure we do not know all there is to know about Paul’s faithful servant Tychicus, but what we do know is exemplary.  He was a trusted messenger, a faithful evangelist,  and a loyal friend.  Paul placed great confidence in him, sending him to manage important tasks for the Body of Christ.  Tychicus without a doubt had the ability to minister in a variety of situations, bringing encouragement to those he served.  He modeled the quality that all church elders are to possess: “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (
Titus 1:9). 

So then, Tychicus had traveled all the way from Paul who was currently under house arrest in Rome to Colosse in order to hand-carry these two letters as well as Paul’s greetings to all the saints.  I remind y’all Paul considered him “a faithful brother,” a faithful minister,” and a “fellowservant in the Lord.”  Plainly said, like Paul, he was sold-out for the Lord and sought to be smack dab in the center of His will. 

Verse 4:9.

With Onesimus (o-neh--sih-muhs), a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.  They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.”

If you recall, Onesimus’ name came up while studying Colossians 4:1:  Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”  In verse 4:9 Paul identified him as a  faithful and beloved brother” and “one of you,” meaning not only did he live in Colosse he is now a saved member of the Body of Christ.  Onesimus was a runaway slave.  We learn of this by reading Paul’s letter to Philemon.  Although the details are somewhat murky, we understand when he fled he stole something from him (Philemon 18).  Why and what he stole from Philemon is actually reduced to sheer speculation for no one truly knows.  We also don’t know whether he sought Paul deliberately or came into contact with him by chance in Rome.  We know Paul was allowed visitors while under house arrest, but he did not enjoy freedom of movement.  From Philemon we learn Paul led him to faith in the Lord and soon thereafter he helped Paul.  Onesimus’ name means “helpful” (v. 10-13):

I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels: whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel.

Soon after Onesimus accepted the Lord as his personal Savior, Paul instructed him to return to Philemon to own up to his mistakes.  Paul sent this letter to Philemon by way of Onesimus to make this task easier. 

This is an ideal place to segue from our study of Colossians to Paul’s letter to Philemon. 

Philemon

This is a one page letter from our apostle Paul to his close friend Philemon.  It  focuses on Onesimus, Philemon, and Paul and their interactions with each other.  At first glance it might appear to be an unimportant contribution to the N.T., but it’s an intimate letter carefully crafted by the apostle Paul to demonstrate right thinking and living for the Believer in Christ.  It too was written circa 62 AD along with Paul’s letters to the Colossians and Ephesians.  Let’s begin.

Verse 1.

Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,”

Paul opened by describing himself as a “prisoner of Jesus Christ” or “a captive in bonds.”  He repeats this three more times (see v. 9, 13, and 23).  Because Paul mentioned this four times indicates it is linked to Paul’s purpose.  He was a “captive in bonds” because he served the risen Lord of glory, so it might be said he is pleading another captive’s case, namely, Onesimus.  The other thing worth mentioning is Paul didn’t write this letter with apostolic authority in mind, as he did in many of his epistles; he wrote to Philemon as a personal friend.  He called Philemon, “our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer” in the ministry.

Verse 2.

and to our beloved Apphia (AF-ee-uh), and Archippus (Ahr-kihp-uhs) our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:”

Apphia” was a saved woman in Colosse living in Philemon’s household.  Some folks believe her to be Philemon’s wife.  Paul mentioned “Archippus” twice once in this letter identifying him as “our fellowsoldier” in verse 2 and in Colossians 4:17 where he wrote: “And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.”  From this we learn he was involved in the ministry. 

Paul also addressed the “house church” that met in Philemon’s home probably because they all were aware of Onesimus’s departure and his crime, so they ought to be brought up-to-speed on his recent conversion.  The churches Paul planted in the first century were dependent upon the generosity and hospitality of its wealthy members.  Priscilla and Aquila stands as an another example (Acts 18).  Those folks who were well-off would either offer their homes as a place to meet or if  the group was too large for their home they would rent a larger venue elsewhere.  So, this letter implies Onesimus was to be welcomed back by the entire household, namely, Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, and the members of this house-church. 

Verses 3-7.

Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; that the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.  For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.”

In these verses Paul praised God and gave thanks to Philemon for his friendship, his “love toward all saints,” and his stedfast faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  When Paul stated he gave “thanks always in my prayers,” he means to say Philemon was on his prayer-list.  I find this remarkable because Paul had many concerns so his prayer-list had to be extensive.  In his epistles we find Paul praying for the Body of Christ’s physical and spiritual needs, demonstrating his deep concern for all the churches (Romans 1:8-10, 15:5-6; Philippians 1:3-6; Ephesians 1:15; Colossians 1:9-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 11-12).  Paul was a consistent and deliberate prayer warrior and stands as an example for every true Believer in Christ. 

Verses 5-6.

“…hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; that the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” 

Some say Paul is buttering up Philemon, or setting him up, for what comes next in this letter, by mentioning his “love and faith toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;” because the runaway slave Onesimus is now a saved saint, in Christ. 

I happen to think Paul is acknowledging Philemon’s spiritual maturity.  Faith and love are two outward evidences of genuine conversion to Christ Jesus.  Many people are told by their church to “love God  (Luke 10:25-28).  They think genuine salvation depends on their love for God and this indicates the individual is truly saved.  Truth be told our love for the Lord Jesus Christ does not come close to matching His great love for us (1 John 4:10, 19; Romans 5:8-9; Ephesians 2:4-5).  His love for us is unchanging, while our love for him appears to be dependent on one’s circumstances, therefore it’s inconsistent.  It’s a little known fact that Paul never urges us to love the Lord Jesus Christ.  Rather he is always telling us about Christ Jesus’ great love toward us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8, 8:37-39; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:4-5, 3:17-19; 5:25).

Verse 7.

“For we have great joy and consolation (comfort) in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.”

Think this through.  Paul said he has experienced “great joy” and “consolation” because he heard of Philemon’s “love toward all saints.”  This is even more remarkable when you consider he is imprisoned in Rome and awaiting trial before Nero the outcome of which will determine whether he lives or dies.  It’s in these conditions we find Paul saying, “For we have great joy and consolation in thy love…  Paul’s not merely joyful he said, “we (all the saints) have great joy…” because of Philemon’s love (1 Corinthians 12:25-26). 

Paul goes on to say, “the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.”  The term “bowels” here doesn’t mean the intestines it means the center of one’s emotions, or the heart (see 2 Corinthians 6:11-12).  The word "refreshed" is a military metaphor signifying the rest an army takes while on the march to regain strength for the next battle.  Here’s a biblical example:

That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed” (Romans 15:32).  Here Paul implies true “refreshment” comes from one saint to another as they enjoy fellowship with one another (1 Corinthians 16:17-18).

Verses 8-9.

Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.”

Here Paul puts Philemon's spiritual maturity to the test.  Will he succumb to the natural influences of the “old man,” or will his “love” prove stronger than the earthly desire to punish Onesimus who Paul recognized as his “son” and Philemon’s “brother” (v. 16).
Although Onesimus possessed zero legal rights in the Roman world, because of his conversion he is on an equal spiritual plane with both Philemon and Paul:

For has many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28). 

Unfortunately, we’re out of time my friends.  Place a bookmark here and we’ll finish this lesson when next we meet. 

(To be continued)

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