Philemon 1:21

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. Philemon 1:21

Paul has made several requests, specifically stating in verse 8, that he might have been bold and commanded what is fitting, but instead, he appealed for love’s sake. It is as obvious as the nose on a person’s face that Paul is asking for Onesimus to be freed from his slavery, but yet he never states this. He only said that he would pay any debts (v. 19) and that he desired Onesimus to minister to him (verses 13 & 14).

It is these things that are referred to with the words, “Having confidence in your obedience.” Paul has made a set of requests, and he is sure that Philemon will comply with those requests. They are not commands, but they will answer the heartfelt desires of Paul when they are met by his obedient son. This is why he wrote what he had thus far. But then Paul adds on his next words; words which can only be seen as a desire for Onesimus’ complete release from slavery. This is what Paul is seeking in writing, “knowing that you will do even more than I say.”

What more could he do? The answer is threefold. First, he could forgive Onesimus completely, including any outstanding debts, and even not charging Paul for them. Secondly, he could grant Onesimus freedom from his slavery. And thirdly, he could then send him to Paul to minister to him. This is what would show a true and complete granting of Paul’s implicit requests, along with his explicit ones. Paul has said as much about slaves elsewhere, telling them that they are to serve faithfully as slaves, but if they can be made free, to accept that freedom (1 Corinthians 7:21). Paul wants this for Onesimus, and he is hoping for it from Philemon.

Life application: As has been noted in other verses of the book of Philemon, Paul is not speaking against the practice of slavery. The verses here and elsewhere cannot be used to say the practice is right or wrong. It is explicitly allowed in both testaments of the Bible. It may be true that it is not what was originally intended for man, but with the fall came many things we must accept as a part of the fallen world. In the case of Onesimus, Paul would have him freed because of his status as a Christian, and his love for both the master and the slave. The issue does not go beyond this. Be careful to not force into Scripture what Scripture does not say.

Lord God! Praises to You for what You have done for Your redeemed. We may be in unhappy situations in this life. We may have an unhappy marriage, we may be bound to a job which is highly displeasing; and some of Your people may be in bondage of one type or another, having lost all worldly freedom. But in Christ, we are the freest beings of all. We know that these trials and troubles are temporary, and so we can endure through them in the sure hope of something much better yet ahead for us. Thank You for this wonderful assurance! Amen.

4 thoughts on “Philemon 1:21

  • Thursday, July 26th, 2018 at 8:36 am

    On August 1st, my country will be celebrating Emancipation Day to commemorate the freedom of slaves who came from Africa to work on the plantations.They were sold as slaves to the British owned colonies. Trinidad was one such colony. The abolition of slavery Act was passed in August 1833, so this study in Philemon is very appropriate for me. However not many have been emancipated from sin.
    I was taught a wonderful song by Christian missionaries who came from the USA to teach us about Jesus. It says “Wonderful Freedom, Glorious Freedom, No more in chains of sin I repine. Jesus the Glorious Emancipator, Now and forever He shall be mine”
    Thank you SW for reminding us over here about the true Freedom in Jesus.

  • Thursday, July 26th, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Amen Charlie and Amen jasmine our time of worldly bondage is coming to an end our new lives not as slaves but as children of God is before us! How can we not look up and rejoice everyday for our redemption in near and our slavery to this world is coming to an end!!

    We are another day closer to home amen

    Grace mercy and peace on you and yours
    God bless my friend(s)

  • Thursday, July 26th, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    BLESS GOD PRAISE JESUS! Amen Jasmin and Gordon ! And Amen Charlie ! And all my fellow chain gang , we bustin outa this joint hopefully sooner than later!

  • Friday, July 27th, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Jasmine Ruth! You are so correct. We are going to be a slave of one thing or another. Better to be a slave of Christ and in real chains, than to be a slave to sin and be in the devil’s bonds.

    God bless you all.


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