TO CHEW ON: "I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me." Philemon 10,11
Onesimus was a slave who lived in Colosse. His master’s name was Philemon. One day Onesimus stole some money from Philemon and ran away to Rome.
After some time, perhaps after all the money was spent, Onesimus found Paul. He may have met Paul before because Philemon was a Christian and a church met in his home. Paul had probably visited there.
Soon Onesimus became a Christian too. Then he faced a big problem. What should he do about his master Philemon and the money he had stolen? If he went back, Philemon might punish him or even kill him. He would certainly be a slave again. But if he didn’t, his conscience would bother him and give him no peace.
What would you have done? Do you think it’s important to confess and make right the wrong things we’ve done to people? Why or why not?
Paul wrote Onesimus’s master a letter. In it he asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus and take him back as a Christian friend. Then Paul sent Onesimus back to Colosse to deliver the letter to his master.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, is there anything I need to confess or make right with someone? Please give me the courage to do it. Amen.
SUPERSIZE IT: How the Story Ends
The Bible doesn’t tell us how this story ends. What do you think happens when Onesimus returns to Philemon?
- as Philemon would tell it
- as Onesimus would tell it.