STUDIES IN PHILEMON

Which points in this short epistle seem to stand out the most for you?

I have appreciated the book of Philemon for the kindness and love shown in it. It could well be a model for any letter or email message to any other brother or sister in the church. If a letter is worth writing, it is worth planning and considering the possible impact it may have on the reader.

Paul began with these few sections:

  • Greeting and Encouragement–vss. 1-3
  • Philemon’s love and faith–vss. 4-7
  • Paul’s plea for Onisimus – vss. 8-22
  • Final greetings–vss. 23-25

Although there are many ideas to discuss, three things stand out for me.

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YOU NEVER CAN TELL

You Never Can Tell

You never can tell when you send a word
Like an arrow shot from a bow
By an archer blind, be it cruel or kind,
Just where it may chance to go.

It may pierce the breast of your dearest friend,
Tipped with its poison or balm,
To a stranger’s heart in life’s great mart
It may carry its pain or its calm.

You never can tell when you do an act
Just what the result will be,
But with every deed you are sowing a seed,
Though the harvest you may not see.

Each kindly act is an acorn dropped
In God’s productive soil;
You may not know, but the tree shall grow
With shelter for those who toil.

You never can tell what your thoughts will do
In bringing you hate or love,
For thoughts are things, and their airy wings
Are swifter than a carrier dove.

They follow the law of the universe –
Each thing must create its kind.
And they speed o’er the tract to bring you back
Whatever went out from your mind.

–Gospel Digest, February, 1960

TREMBLE

Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed (Isaiah 66:5).

INQUISITION

Persecuted Christians worldwide should take comfort from this Scripture even if their joy is not in this world.  We have faith that the Heavenly Father will keep His promises.

Tremble.

FORGIVENESS

The scriptures are plain. How could Christians misunderstand? When Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray, he used a phrase that not only taught them how but taught them a deeper level of understanding of points in that prayer. One such phrase was: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Then he went on to say, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). God made the promise that if we do not forgive men for what they do against us, he will not forgive us.

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