Paul’s Plea to Philemon

 We’re running a bit ahead of schedule this week for Luke 16, so we thought it would be a good time to take a look at Paul’s epistle to Philemon.

Paul’s letter to Philemon was a personal one, but it was also one that he intended to be read to the entire church, as they met in his home (verse 2). Philemon was a wealthy Christian in Colossae, and Paul probably befriended him during his three years in Ephesus, which was about 161 kilometers away. One of his bondservants, Onesimus, had run away, possibly even stealing some money from him (verses 18-19).

Philemon (New Testament person)

Philemon (New Testament person) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a fortuitous coincidence, or more probably God’s providence, Onesimus had ended up in Rome while he was hiding, and had come into contact with Paul while he was in prison there. Presumably, it was during his first imprisonment there, and the letter was probably written about 62 A.D. – about the time that he wrote to Ephesus. After meeting Paul, Onesimus had become a Christian. Now Paul was sending him back to Philemon with the request that he receive his bondservant as he would receive Paul, and that he now should consider him a beloved brother.

Paul would have liked for Onesimus to stay and continue to help him while he was in prison, but he needed things to be made right between the two of them. Paul’s confidence that Philemon would respect his wishes and go beyond even what Paul was asking of him comes though loud and clear in this letter. Secular tradition has it that this same Onesimus became an important leader in the church. Whether that is true, we do not know for sure. But it seems that it was God’s will for Philemon’s forgiveness, the growth of brotherly love, and the service of Onesimus to make a difference in their lives, and in the lives of those in the church there. It was a great lesson in the providence and power of God in the lives of all those Christians.

It is notable that in this, the shortest epistle Paul had written, one of the people who Paul sends greetings from is Demas (verses 23-24). The letter was before Demas’ love for “this present world” had caused him to desert Paul and go to Thesslonica (2 Timothy 4:10).

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

Book of Esther – The Providence of God

The Book of Esther is another of several in the old Testament for which the identity of the author is unknown. Some people have suggested that it may have been Mordecai himself (mainly because of the statements in Esther 9:20-23 about other things he had written and “recorded”). But the three verses of chapter 10 make that theory seem really doubtful. The verses are so full of praise for Mordecai that it is hard to imagine that an author guided by the Holy Spirit would be so self-serving in his writing.

Of all the young ladies of the land, Esther pleased the king of Persia the most. She was not only beautiful, but filled with wisdom and grace. Esther, a poor Jewish orphan girl, suddenly became queen of Persia, the most powerful woman in the world (Esther 2).

Of all the young ladies of the land, Esther pleased the king of Persia the most. She was not only beautiful, but filled with wisdom and grace. Esther, a poor Jewish orphan girl, suddenly became queen of Persia, the most powerful woman in the world (Esther 2).

There has been a considerable amount of negative writing from some believing critics, and even some who argue that the book should not be part of the Holy Scriptures.  Part of the reason given for this is the cruelty of the decree against the Jews given in Esther 3:8-11. This criticism is puzzling, given the notorious cruelty of Artaxerxes (King Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther). Another reason given is that no mention of God is made in the book. But the 10 short chapters of the Book of Esther total up to fewer verses than the 119th Psalm, and God’s hand in the events of the book is quite evident

The Book of Esther demonstrates God’s divine providence, as Mordecai and Esther gain positions of power prior to the menace of Haman – Esther rising from poverty as a Jewish orphan to become one of the most powerful women in the world. And then one event after another continues to fall into place perfectly, including the king’s insomnia the night before Mordecai’s planned execution in Esther 6:1-3. The event not only prevents his execution, but results in Mordecai gaining the favor of the king (Esther 6:9-11). Esther and Mordecai themselves teach us to take advantage of opportunities to act courageously and do the right thing (Esther 4:9-16).  As is often the case, God once again used unlikely people and circumstances to accomplish His will. Haman could not be allowed to decimate God’s people.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.