Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: https://sothrichfield.podbean.com
1 Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon’s Love and Faith
4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. 7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
Paul’s Plea for Onesimus
8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
What qualities in Philemon do you wish to develop in yourself? (see verses 4-7)
Holy Father, my reputation is important. I want to be known as a joyful servant sharing Your love. If I tell someone that is my desire, they will not take my words for face value, but they will judge my character from the consistency in my actions. Please help me to live in a manner of good character so that my faith in You is evident to all. As a member of Shepherd of the Hills let my character reflect positively on my church. I pray that as people in our church share faith with others and serve others with Your love, that more people will come to know all the blessings You have given us. I pray that we encourage each other and cheer the hearts of those who we encounter in Your church and in our service to others. The reputation of the church starts with the quality of the character of the people within the church. Help my behavior and actions never reflect negatively on Your church to detract from You or the church’s reputation. I pray that all I say and do is consistent with Your Word and reflects positively on me, my congregation, and on You. I pray that Shepherd of the Hills is known in Richfield and in Washington County as the church that actively loves You and Your people. Through our joint actions let us be known as a place where people can come to be encouraged, loved, and where Your truth is shared. Let the reputation of our congregation be that of Your love and faithfulness. Amen