«Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother; to Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer» (Philemon l).
PHILEMON IS THE SHORTEST BOOK written by the Apostle Paul. It is a request to a godly man to receive Onesimus, his runaway slave, with affection. This man had now become a Christian, and Paul was sending him back to his master.
He first expressed appreciation and praised Philemon. He considered him a family man. His wife’s name was Apia, and his son’s was Arquipo, In addition, he was a man of great faith, who was faithful, productive, always helpful, and encouraged everyone (v. 2—7).
In the second part, Paul begged for forgiveness for Onesimus and agreed to pay his debt (v. 8—17).
Then, the third part of the letter presents a guarantee and a promise. The guarantee is that Paul promised to pay Philemon any debt Onesimus owed him. Paul reminded Philemon of his own great spiritual debt toward the apostle. Therefore, he needed to be kind to the slave; Paul also asked him to prepare a room for when he would be able to visit him,
In this epistle, we see a genuine Christian man interceding in favor of a slave. The big lesson is this: Regardless of the situation a person is in, he must be respected and treated with dignity. After all, we have all been made in the image of God, and by His grace, that image will be recovered in the process of salvation.
On August 25, 1950, a simple fisherman slowly returned to the port of San Francisco with his boat full of salmon. Suddenly, he saw several people struggling to stay afloat, They were patients from the hospital ship Benevolence that had collided with another ship because of the fog. He immediately jumped into the water and rescued them, one by one, as fast as he could. He had to unload his crates that were full of salmon, which were the basis of his livelihood, to make more room.
With aching heart and muscles, he asked God for strength to save everyone. Thus, in a heroic action, his boat was empty of salmon and full of seventy saved shipwreck survivors.
The church is also a hospital ship that is full of patients and survivors. How willing are we to unload our salmon, our ideas, position, goods and time in order to dignify, restore, and save everyone?
Heaven will not be full of salmon, but full of restored patients and rescued survivors.