Friday, March 31, 2017



AUTHOR AND DATE: These letters to the believers at Thessalonica were written by the apostle Paul, a man who once persecuted Christians with a vengeance but was dramatically converted when the risen Lord Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. The first letter to the Thessalonians was written around A.D. 51 while Paul was ministering in Corinth, and the second letter was most likely written while he was still there since he remained in Corinth for 18 months.  This was probably the second letter from Paul that is included in the canon of Scripture since his letter to the Galatians was written circa A.D. 49-50.

RECIPIENTS: In the Roman Empire, some cities were allowed to govern themselves. Thessalonica was one of these “free cities.”  Paul had successfully ministered in the synagogue and among some Hellenistic Jews and wealthy women seeing many come to believe in the Lord Jesus as the promised Messiah. However, others were antagonistic, not believing and perhaps even fearing this new Gospel message, and he had been forced to leave the city. He wrote this first letter after Timothy had spent time in Thessalonica and returned to Paul with a good report about the believers there. The second letter addressed some problems the growing church was experiencing with persecution and false teachers.

·      Chapter 1 – Encourage believers
·      Chapter 2
o  Clear up false claims
o  Comfort the persecuted
·      Chapter 3
o  Trials
o  Paul encouraged by their faith
·      Chapter 4
o  Purity a Priority
o  Love and Work Heartily
o  Future events clarified
·      Chapter 5
o  Prophetic events

o  Instructions for the familyship



·        Spiritual equality of masters and slaves
o   Contrast of wealthy Philemon and slave Onesimus, but they were spiritually equal in the body of Christ
o   Masters and slaves could overcome social barriers and be friends, brothers or sisters in Christ
·        Repentance
o   Onesimus had come to know Jesus and, therefore, had repented of stealing and running away
o   Although Onesimus had repented before God, he still needed to face the consequences of his actions by returning to his master
o   Jesus enables us to repent and acts as our bridge to the Father
·        Forgiveness
o   Character
§  It was evident that Philemon had received the new nature of being in Christ
§  Philemon loved Jesus and his brothers and sisters in Christ
§  Paul prayed the Lord would use Philemon’s testimony to bring others to Jesus
o   Actions
§  Paul asked Philemon to receive Onesimus with the implication of restoring him to his position
§  Forgiveness needs to be willingly, not grudgingly
§  Paul wanted Philemon to understand that Onesimus was now more than a servant, he was a brother in the family of God
§  Paul asked Philemon to treat Onesimus as he would Paul, VIP treatment
o   Motivation
§  Paul asked Philemon to forgive based on his love for Jesus and his fellow believer Onesimus
§  Paul offered to pay any debt Onesimus owed to Philemon
§  Part of Philemon’s motive to forgive would be his love for and allegiance to the one who led him to the Lord, Paul
§  Philemon had a reputation of doing what was just and right

§  Paul planned to personally visit Philemon when he was freed from prison

Thursday, March 30, 2017



Philemon 18 If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; 19 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.

Just as Jesus paid the debt of our sin on the cross as the final perfect Lamb, Paul offered to pay the debt that Onesimus owed Philemon. Paul wrote that part of the letter in his own handwriting as proof that he was truly the one making this offer. Paul facetiously said he would not mention that Philemon owed him his very life, as in his eternal life since Paul led him to the Lord.  

Philemon 20 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.

Philemon 20 (CJB) Yes, brother, please do me this favor in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Messiah.

If Philemon responded favorably to Paul’s advice to receive Onesimus, how would this refresh Paul? Philemon was Paul’s son in the faith. It would nourish Paul spiritually to know that Philemon was listening to and heeding his counsel. It would be an affirmation of the investment of Paul’s time that Philemon did not hesitate to do as Paul had asked. It is encouraging to watch younger believers you have discipled live in a way that honors the Lord.

Philemon 21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.

Paul was confident that Philemon would go above and beyond his instructions. He felt sure that Philemon would welcome Onesimus with open arms. Paul may have been reflecting back on the time when the other apostles and leaders of the church in Jerusalem were doubtful of his own conversion and was hopeful that Philemon would not treat Onesimus in that manner.

Philemon 22 But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.

Paul believed he would soon be released and on his way and told Philemon to get a room ready for him. He gave credit to Philemon and the church that met in his home for praying for his release from prison.

Philemon 23 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus;   24 Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.

Epaphras had traveled to Rome to bring Paul news about the church at Ephesus. He may have been imprisoned by the Romans as a “suspicious character” or may have just seemed like a fellow-prisoner because he spent so much time with Paul. He and others there encouraging Paul and delivering letters for him sent their greetings to Philemon, et. al. The others were 1) Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark and nephew to Barnabas, Paul’s fellow missionary, 2) Aristarchus, who had ministered with Paul in Ephesus, 3) Demus, who later would abandon Paul and become sucked in by the world’s enticements, 4) and Luke, Paul’s physician and faithful friend. It seemed that Paul had an entire staff with him while under house arrest! God was powerful in working out the logistics of getting His message out to the world.

Philemon 25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Paul blessed them by praying for the grace (the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life) of Jesus to be with them. So be it! Paul’s desire was that their lives reflect the change that comes from knowing Jesus Christ, the Messiah, intimately.

Ponder this: Paul felt so strongly about the change the Lord had brought about in Onesimus that he was personally willing to pay his debt to Philemon. What gratitude must Onesimus have shown Paul. Jesus paid ALL of your debt by dying on the cross in your place. Have you shown Him gratitude lately?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017



Philemon 8 Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient,

As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus, Paul could have commanded Philemon to accept Onesimus as a brother and forgive his thievery and running away.

Philemon 9 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.

Since Paul is Philemon’s elder in the sense of age, and his father in the faith, he pleads with Philemon on the basis of his love for the Lord and his love for Paul to do what he is asking. Paul trusts his knowledge of Philemon’s character which he commended in the first part of the letter and believes Philemon will do the right thing.

Philemon 10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:

In what respect was Onesimus Paul’s son? Paul gave birth to Onesimus in the spiritual sense because he introduced him to Jesus and discipled him while they were together.

Philemon 11 Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:

The name Onesimus means useful. In the eyes of Philemon Onesimus was useless since he had stolen from him and had run away. Paul was saying that Onesimus was now useful, living up to his name, and would be so for Philemon as well as Paul and also for the kingdom of God.

Philemon 12 Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:

Paul is returning Onesimus to his owner, Philemon. He urges Philemon to receive him graciously because he now holds Onesimus dear as made clear in the Complete Jewish Bible:

Philemon 12 (CJB) so that in returning him to you I am sending a part of my very heart.

Philemon 13 Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:

Paul would have liked to have kept Onesimus with him in Rome because he comforted and encouraged him as Philemon would have done had he been there. Paul was “in the bonds of the Gospel” meaning he was in prison for preaching the Good News, the message that Christ was and is the Messiah and His redeeming work on the cross was for all who would believe.

Philemon 14 But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.

As stated before, Paul was an Apostle and could have kept Onesimus without consulting Philemon, but respected Philemon and did not want to do anything without being in agreement. He wanted Philemon’s forgiveness and acceptance of Onesimus to be freely given and genuine rather than compelled in order for Philemon to reap greater benefit from extending forgiveness.

Philemon 15 For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; 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?

Perhaps the Lord’s reason for allowing Onesimus to run away was that he might come to know Jesus and return to Philemon as a brother in the Lord. Paul was able to share with Onesimus the freedom in Jesus, that one can be free even if a slave. Paul’s desire is that Philemon might enjoy Onesimus as a beloved, fellow believer as well as having the benefit of his service again.

Philemon 17 If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.

The Voice translation handles this verse well:

Philemon 17 (VOICE) So if you look upon me as your partner in this mission, then I ask you to open your heart to him as you would welcome me.

Paul asked Philemon to treat Onesimus as a part of his heart, as he would Paul. Apparently the relationship between Paul and Philemon was very close, and Paul hoped Philemon could develop that type of friendship with Onesimus even though he was a slave.

Ponder This: Onesimus had trusted Jesus which means he had repented of his sin and now was indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Paul asked Philemon not only to forgive Onesimus and take him back as his servant, but to give him the VIP welcome that Philemon would normally give to Paul. This would truly be forgiving as Christ forgave. Jesus not only forgives our sin but gloriously welcomes us to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017



Philemon 1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow-labourer,

Paul was under house arrest in Rome. Why did he call himself a prisoner of Jesus? It was because of his preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ that he was arrested. Do you see a purpose in his imprisonment? Christ was on a mission through Paul to give the gospel to the Gentiles. His imprisonment, rather than stopping him in his mission, allowed him to spread the gospel and encourage the believers without having to travel on foot. He had plenty of time to pray, hear from the Holy Spirit, and dictate letters to his helper(s). There were, also, guards, Roman soldiers, who converted to Christianity while assigned to guard Paul.

Who was Timothy? Timothy was the son of Eunice and grandson of Lois, both of whom were believers in Christ and godly women. They gave him the name Timothy which means “one who honors God.” Timothy’s father was Greek and had probably passed away by this time. Paul mentioned Timothy in several letters to give him credibility with the body of believers as a successor to him. He would eventually be one of only three people to receive a divinely inspired personal letter from Paul – the others being Philemon and Titus.

Now on to the recipient of the letter. Philemon was a wealthy man having a large house and at least one slave. He lived in the city of Colossae and would have been one of the people receiving the letter to the Colossians as well as this personal letter. He was a member and possibly a leader (Paul calls him a co-laborer) of the congregation at Colossae that met in his home.
Paul had led Philemon to the Lord years earlier.

Philemon 2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:

Apphia was Philemon’s wife, and Archippus was either his son or an elder in the church that met in his home. If he were an elder, Paul may have addressed the letter to him as well as Philemon; so that Philemon would be held accountable for considering Paul’s advice. Paul’s letters were a way to spread the gospel, teach new believers, and sometimes to handle problems/conflicts that arose in the congregations. The conflict between Philemon and Onesimus is the main purpose of this letter, but it served the purpose of teaching believers about forgiveness among the Messianic community as well since it was to be read to the entire congregation.

Philemon 3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul used the greeting of “grace” in all thirteen of his letters. We are saved by grace. Faith in God’s grace through Jesus is the only way to the Father. Peace is the result of trusting Jesus as one’s personal Savior, the One who brought you out of a life of sin. It is not a human peace that depends on self-effort, self-will, and good circumstances. This is a peace from God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), peace in the middle of trouble, in the very eye of the storm. Paul’s inclusion of both God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ points out the deity of Jesus as equal to God.

Philemon 4 I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,

Paul continually exhorts us to pray with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18), and here he follows his own advice by thanking God for those who would read this letter. It is evident that Paul is an eager, consistent intercessor for those under his leadership.

Philemon 5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; 6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

Paul commends the character of Philemon, that the new nature is evident in him. He may have been commending the character of the congregation as a whole, too. He praises their love and faith toward the Lord Jesus and to one another as believers. The body at Colossae is a personification of discipleship because of this love for God and each other, for Jesus said:

John 13:35 (KJV)  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Philemon’s love for other believers was a manifestation of his love for Jesus and evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in his life.

The Voice translation helps with verse 6:

Philemon 6 (VOICE) I pray that as he goes and tells his story of faith, he would tell everyone so that they will know for certain all the good that comes to those who put their trust in the Anointed One.

Paul prayed and believed that Philemon’s testimony would help others to understand the full benefit of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Philemon 7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.

Paul was encouraged and comforted to know of Philemon’s love for God, other believers, and for Paul. Where the King James Version uses “bowels,” we would probably say hearts or minds.

Philemon 7 (CJB)     For your love has given me much joy and encouragement. Brother, you have refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

Why did Paul address Philemon as “brother.” Paul had been the one to introduce Philemon to Jesus which made him one with Christ, one of the familyship of believers. Therefore, Paul and Philemon were brothers in the family of God which is more powerful than any natural bloodline.


If Paul were to write a letter to you, what positive characteristics in your life might he commend? Would he be able to praise you for your relationships in the body of Christ and your witness to others?

Friday, March 24, 2017



Author: Paul, originally known as Saul of Tarsus, had been an avid persecutor of Christians, even handing them over to be executed, until one life-changing journey to Damascus. He set out with letters from the High Priest authorizing him to arrest Christians, but he was “arrested” instead by the Lord Jesus while still on the road. The Lord appeared to him in blazing, blinding light and asked why he was persecuting him. In Damascus, the Lord brought Ananias to pray for Saul. His eyes were healed, and he was converted to Christianity. God called him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter while imprisoned in Rome because of his preaching the Gospel somewhere around 60-62 AD. Philemon along with Colossians, Philippians, and Ephesians are known as “The Prison Epistles” since all four were written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome.

Recipient(s): This was a private letter to Paul’s friend, Philemon, but was then shared with the congregation that met in Philemon’s home. Philemon’s slave, Onesimus, had stolen from him and run away. He ended up in Rome where Paul led him to faith in Jesus. This letter accompanied Onesimus as Paul had urged the man to return to his owner.

Historical Setting: Slavery was common in Roman provinces and slaves had little rights. By New Testament times, they were receiving better treatment because masters had figured out that a contented slave was a better worker. Also, laws had been passed that a slave accused of a crime had a right to a trial. The biblical authors did not condemn slavery outright lest they incite a rebellion. However, the did insist on equality among believers and fair treatment of slaves.


  • ·         Spiritual equality of masters and slaves
  • ·         Repentance
  • ·         Forgiveness
o Character
o Actions
o Motivation



Chapter 1
·         The person of Christ
o   Paul affirms the deity of Jesus by identifying Him as God’s son
o   It is through Jesus that we have redemption
o   Jesus is God in the flesh – the exact image of the Father
o   Jesus is fully God AND fully man – all the fullness of the God-head dwells in Him
o   Jesus created the world for Himself
o   Jesus existed before the earth was created and is the “glue” that holds the universe together
o   Jesus is the head of the church, His body, His bride
o   Jesus is the “firstborn” of the resurrection, the first to be permanently resurrected from the dead
·         Reconciliation
o   Redemption purchased by Christ on the cross was for all kinds of people regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic status
o   Jesus, as our High Priest, sacrificed HIMSELF even while we were still His enemies
o   Leads to good works as a result of being saved
o   Spiritual fruit is the evidence of a relationship with Jesus
o   We are not worthy on our own – Jesus died to make us worthy of knowing God
o   True believers WILL persevere in the faith because will enable them to continue living for Him
·         Paul’s work
o   God called Paul to be an Apostle
o   Considered Timothy his son in the faith
o   Wrote letter to the Colossians while under house arrest in Rome
o   Considered it a privilege and rejoiced to suffer due to serving the Lord
o   Interceded in prayer on behalf of the congregations to whom he wrote
o   Mentored congregations via letters
o   Proclaimed the “Mystery” of the Gospel “Christ in you, the hope of glory”
o   His strength came from the Lord

Chapter 2
·          Warning against heresy
o   False teachers will try to entice them with plausible sounding ideas
o   Question any teaching that denies the deity of Jesus
o   No “higher knowledge” is needed other than the person of Jesus and the Bible
o   Beware of any teaching that works or traditions are a requirement for reconciliation to God
o   Believers need to stay firmly rooted in the truth of the gospel and continue to grow in their understanding of God’s word
o   False teachers are detached from the Head – Jesus
o   The false teachers we promoting asceticism
·          Sufficiency of Christ
o   All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ
o   Jesus is fully God and fully man
o   Jesus is received by faith and each day is lived by faith
o   Jesus makes us complete – nothing else is needed
o   Our sin was nailed to Jesus’ cross and no longer has power over us
o   We do not need to abuse ourselves through asceticism since Jesus completely suffered our punishment on the cross
·          Mistake of reverting to bondage
o   The accusations against us were paid for on the cross and can no longer enslave us
o   Jesus triumphed over sin, Satan, death, and demons – we are no longer chained by them
o   Do not revert to legalism – observing moons, Jewish festivals, dietary restrictions, circumcision, etc.
o   Do not worship angels

Chapter 3
·          Forgiveness
o   We are completely forgiven due to Jesus’ sacrifice in our place on the cross
o   We are “hidden in Him” – sheltered from the wrath of Holy God
o   We should forgive others as Christ forgave us – completely, unconditionally
·          Putting off and putting on
o Mortify: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry
o Put off: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth, lying
o Put on the new man, the new nature
o Put on:  bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering
o Over all, put on love
·          Relationships
o Let God’s peace be your decision maker
o Encourage one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs as well as the Word of God
o Do all to the glory of God – even in our relationships
o Wives submit to husbands as to the Lord
o Husbands are to love their wives sacrificially as Jesus loves the church
o Children are to obey parents
o Parents should not nag or exasperate their children
o Workers should do their best heartily as if the Lord is their Boss
o The Lord will reward faithful work and punish wrongdoing
o 4:1 – Masters, bosses are to be fair with their employees

Chapter 4
·          Religious duties
o Believers are to pray for one another alertly, consistently, persistently, and with gratitude to God
o Paul sent his prayer requests to the church at Colossae
o We should walk in wisdom among non-believers as faithful witnesses for Jesus
o We should speak graciously and be prepared to defend the Gospel respectfully
·          Commendations
o Tychicus was called a faithful minister and fellow-servant of Paul
o Onesimus, a former runaway slave, is now Paul’s faithful and beloved brother
o Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus were fellow-workers alongside Paul in Rome and were great comforters to him
o Epaphras was commended for his faithful, zealous labor of intercessory prayer
o Paul called Luke the “beloved physician”
·          Greetings
o Paul sent greetings from Luke and Demus
o Paul sent greetings to the Laodicean church as well as the congregation at Colossae and a person named Nymphas who had a church meeting in his(or her) church
o Paul sent a word of encouragement to Archippus to continue in his God-given calling
o The letter ended with Paul signing it in his own handwriting and requesting prayer once again