The Book of Philemon is a letter written by the apostle Paul to his friend Philemon, urging him to forgive and accept back his runaway slave Onesimus. While the letter is short, it contains important messages about forgiveness, reconciliation, and the unity of believers. Here are the five most essential verses that explain the overall central message of the book:
Verse 6: "I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ."
This verse highlights the importance of unity and partnership among believers in the faith. Paul prays that Philemon's collaboration with him and others in the trust will lead to a deeper understanding of the good things they share in Christ.
Verse 8: "For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty."
Here, Paul acknowledges his authority as an apostle of Christ and that he could command Philemon to do the right thing. However, he chooses to appeal to him in love rather than force him to act.
Verse 15: "Perhaps he was separated from you for a little while because you might have him back forever."
Paul suggests that Onesimus' escape and subsequent encounter with Paul was part of God's plan for him to be reconciled with Philemon and ultimately have a lasting relationship with him.
Verse 16: "No longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord."
In this verse, Paul emphasizes that Onesimus is no longer just an enslaved person but a brother in Christ. He encourages Philemon to view him not as a piece of property but as a beloved fellow believer.
Verse 21: "Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say."
Paul expresses his confidence in Philemon's obedience and willingness to go above and beyond what he asks. He trusts that Philemon will forgive and accept Onesimus as a brother in Christ.
Overall, the Book of Philemon's central message is forgiveness, reconciliation, and unity among believers. Paul urges Philemon to view Onesimus not as an enslaved person but as a fellow brother in Christ and to forgive him for his past actions.
Through this act of forgiveness, Paul hopes to deepen the partnership and unity among believers. The letter serves as a reminder that forgiveness and reconciliation are essential in maintaining solid relationships within the Christian community.