Introduction to Philemon


It seems like Philemon is the last letter that we see Paul write in the new testament, but it was actually written several years before Timothy and Titus. Paul writes this letter to a Christian and slave owner who lives in Colosse. I don’t want to steal Caitlin’s thunder tomorrow as she digs into this writing, but I think it is safe to say that Paul uses a very real life circumstance to show all of us a beautiful picture of what Jesus actually did for us on the cross. Paul sees the broken relationship between a slave and his master and the need for forgiveness to show us our need for reconciliation to God, through Christ. I hope you take the time today to read Philemon and watch for Jesus’ payment on the cross for our sin as you read the story.

This is a bit of a side bar but it popped into my mind as I was thinking about the order of the books in the New Testament. In 2016 a friend and I committed to read through the Bible together within the year. We wanted to do it in a way that would seem different than what we had both tried and failed at in years past, so we decided to read through a Living version of a Chronological Bible. Now I know that there is controversy among scholars around what the actual order is chronologically, but for my and my friend’s purposes the version that we chose was fine. We just wanted to read more chronologically than we had before. It was a very meaningful year. It was so helpful to see God’s fulfilment of the prophecies right after they were spoken. I found more meaning and saw God’s faithfulness in new ways. I loved reading through David’s life and seeing the Psalms that he wrote right in the circumstances that he wrote them. Again, more meaningful. I saw God pursuing us more outright than I had before because of the timeline of the stories. I’m glad that I did it last year and I plan to do it again soon because it helped me so much. I wanted to include this idea here to encourage you consider this method at some point in your life.  

We also get to look together at Psalm 6 today. David is literally freaking out in this Psalm. People are chasing him and trying to kill him. If I take a few seconds and try to put myself in his space mentally before reading this Psalm, it helps me grasp his desperation and fear. He is crying out to God for his life. His words are very honest and he doesn’t seem to mind telling God that he is full of fear, that he is weak and that he needs help. For eight verses he pours out his heart to God and then he says, “the Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer.” These words can only come from a relationship. David knows God. David has seen God be faithful before in his life and so now he can rest, trusting that God will care for him again. I am so grateful that God put this song in the Bible for us to read. I’m so glad to see David’s human fear, weakness and need for help. I wish that when I face something hard, my first reaction would be, “the Lord has heard my plea, the Lord will answer my prayer.” But like David, it takes a little crying out for help and some fear being spoken aloud before I can get to the place where I remember that God is trustworthy and He will be faithful in these circumstances as He has in the past to me.