- Even though Paul emphasizes that he wants Philemon to forgive Onesimus voluntarily, one can still ask how much freedom Philemon really had in practice. After all, this letter was to be read to the congregation gathered in Philemon’s house, and besides, Paul is coming soon to visit Philemon. Philemon must certainly have felt a bit pressured and almost forced to do as Paul wanted.
- The point of this letter, then, is that Paul wants Philemon to “obey willingly in love“.
- Can slavery, alcoholism or abortion, for example, be stopped by banning it? Paul takes a different approach, appealing to Philemon’s voluntary love.
- So how did Onesimus do? Tradition has it that this Onesimus eventually succeeded Timothy as pastor of Ephesus, that he collected Paul’s letters which later became part of the New Testament, and that he was martyred when he was stoned to death.
- Paul was an apostle and one of the greatest missionary heroes in the history of the world, yet he needed intercessors to succeed in his plans. So how important is it for us today to pray constantly for one another?