The Story of the Runaway Slave, Onesimus, (Philemon 1: 8 – 21)

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote to Philemon concerning Onesimus, who was a new convert that had abandoned his old master. As a fellow believer and brother in Jesus Christ, Paul wrote out of love of God to reconcile Onesimus to Philemon, a church leader. For the will of God through Jesus Christ is that the Church should be one in mind, spirit and in love, Paul reconciles the two for the spirit to be one. Paul makes it clear in the letter that Onesimus would go back to Philemon not as his bondservant, but as a beloved brother by blood as a fellow Jew and in the Lord Jesus as a fellow believer. Therefore, Paul shares with Philemon as a church leader how to deal with differences in members, to accept Onesimus as a brother despite his earlier escape.

Secondly, Paul demonstrates the love of God through Jesus Christ in reconciling all mankind. Paul clarifies the change of law binding the master and servant from the law of sin to the law of the spirit of life which abounds in love. The relationship between the slave and master stressed on service and pay; Paul refers to this as useless. However, as new beings in Jesus Christ, Paul pleads with Philemon that it is a relationship based on love and brotherhood in the church. In this relationship, everyone considers the other better than themselves because of the love of Jesus Christ which enjoins the believers (Killingray). Unlike the Law of Moses in which the slaves were treated harshly with death punishment, the Christianity love treated slaves as brethren in Christ whatever position they held. They were not subjected to the capital punishment for disobedience is counted at all and for the same cause Jesus Christ was sent to forgive and love. Thus, Paul expresses his trust in the unfailing love of Christ that will propel Philemon to do more as the Lord wills.

The problem in the contemporary world, both in their religious cocoons and secular movements is a failure to believe and trust in the love of God to all men through our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, in Jesus’ love, all people are equal and have failed in all ways, therefore, should only rely on God’s grace. This Christ’s church leaves no one above another in terms of enslaving servants, nor workers exploiting their masters due to a common bond of brotherly love.

Works Cited

Killingray, Margaret. “The Bible, Slavery and Onesimus.” ANVIL 24 (2007): 85- 96.


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