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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 12, 2020

Colossians 4:7-9/Philemon 1-9 (L27)


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

Established November 2008                                         Published: June 12, 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).
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Colossians 4:7-9
Philemon 1-9

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.  But the same could be said of the saints in Ephesus because Paul wrote: “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 the 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 wrote: “be careful to walk circumspectly…”  Paul’s saying Believers ought to understand God’s program in 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 come to an 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.  It’s also the Believer’s “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1-2).  In other words, we’re not saved merely to warm a church pew whenever the lights in the building are turned on; “For we are God’s workmanship (masterpiece) created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them: (Ephesians 2:10).

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).

The Psalmist wrote: “The entrance of thy words giveth light; It giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119-130).

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, most Christians today are not walking as children of light.  While the lost live their lives  in spiritual darkness, the majority of Christendom walks carelessly and unintelligently in fear and completely unaware of God’s plan and purpose for His Church today.  In that respect, they are not “walking in wisdom,” or “circumspectly.”  They choose to live and let live showing little interest in discussing spiritual concerns with “them that are without (Christ).”

Paul used the word “saints” in his writings 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” and they had found the true meaning for life in Christ; and they are now 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 closing salutations 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 one of Paul’s fellow co-workers, namely, Tychicus (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 fellow servant” who was with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment.  He was entrusted to deliver Paul’s epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians and to bring news of the Paul’s “state” (his present status) to those congregations: “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.

In traveling to Colosse, Tychicus accompanied 
Onesimus, the former runaway slave who was returning to his master Philemon.  No doubt, he, as a good friend of Paul’s, emphasized the need for grace in receiving Onesimus back home (Philemon 1:17).

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 and 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.”  Like Paul, he was sold-out for the Lord and sought to be smack dab in the center of His will, and evidently he was doing that very thing.  It goes without saying, at this point, the churches at Colosse and Ephesus were quite concerned about Paul’s “state,” after all, his very life was on the line.  So,   Paul sent Tychicus to these assemblies to deliver these two letters to them, to find out how they were doing, and to encourage them by updating them about Paul’s “state.

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, a short-time 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 he was a fellow citizen of Colosse.  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 took along with him some of Philemon possessions (Philemon 18).  Why he stole from him is actually reduced to sheer speculation for no one truly knows.  Perhaps we can ask him when we meet up with him in glory.  We also don’t know whether he sought Paul deliberately or came into contact with him by chance.  We know Paul was allowed visitors while under house arrest, but he wasn’t enjoying freedom of movement.  From Philemon we learn Paul led him to faith in the Lord and soon thereafter he helped Paul (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 reconcile their differences.  Paul sent this letter to Philemon by way of Onesimus to make this task easier.  I think this is an ideal place to segue from our study of Colossians to Paul’s letter to Philemon.  Let’s all go there now.

Philemon is a one page letter that addresses the concerns of three people, primarily, and they are Onesimus, Philemon, and Paul.  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.

Philemon

Philemon appears to have been a wealthy Colossian who owned slaves, as did most of the well-off in his day.  Onesimus came to faith in Christ as a result of Paul's influence (v. 19).  He was one of Philemon's slaves that ran away and he was also a thief, but we aren’t told what he took or why.  We know he eventually made his way to Rome.  Why he traveled to Rome is unknown, but while there he came into contact with Paul and soon thereafter became a Believer (v. 10).  Paul and Onesimus both knew the danger he faced in returning to his master, since slave owners had absolute authority over their slaves and often treated them as property rather than as people.  Therefore the purpose of this letter was not only to return Onesimus to Philemon’s household, but also to ask him to forgive his transgressions based on a sincere appeal to Philemon's faith, love, and grace in Christ.

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 it 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 talking about is Paul didn’t write this letter with apostolic authority 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 their “house church” that met in Philemon’s home most likely because they all were aware of Onesimus’s departure and his crime.  The churches Paul planted in the first century churches were dependent upon the generosity and hospitality of its wealthy members.  Priscilla and Aquila is but one example (Acts 18).  Those folks who were well-off would either offer their homes as a place to meet or if their 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 , 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 for all saints, and his faith.  When Paul stated he gave “thanks always in my prayers,” he means to say Philemon was on his prayer-list.  I find this remarkable in that Paul was a prayer warrior and most likely had an extensive prayer-list.  We know he coveted the prayers of the saints that he might speak forth the truth of the gospel boldly as he ought, he was also deeply concerned for all the churches as well as all the members of those 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) etc.  Paul maintained a deliberate and consistent commitment to go to God in prayer and stands as a model to every saint 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.” 

In these verses Paul acknowledged Philemon’s spiritual maturity.  This statement resembles Paul’s remarks in Colossians 1:3-4: “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints.”

Faith and love are two outward evidences of genuine conversion to Christ Jesus.  Many people are told by their church to “love God.”  They think genuine salvation depends on their love for God and His Son and this indicates the individual is truly saved.  Truth be told our love for the Lord 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 based 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 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” (comfort) because he heard of Philemon’s “love.”  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.  So then, even though his freedom has been taken away, he is chained which restrict his movements, etc.   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 have great joy…” because of Philemon’s love. 

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 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 each other’s company (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 his sense of injustice due to Onesimus’ rebellious acts; remember he was not only a runaway slave he was also a thief?  Paul’s heartfelt request that Philemon accept Onesimus back into his household has a connotation of brotherly persuasion (brotherly love), rather than a formal appeal to apostolic authority.  This runaway slave is now both a son to Paul and a brother to Philemon (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 his owner and our apostle Paul.  He is now a child of God;
 Philemon’s “Master in heaven.” 

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

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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