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Words of Faith 12-31-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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[17] So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. [18] If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.   [19] I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back--not to mention that you owe me your very self.  


     Paul finally made his request asking Philemon to welcome Onesimus the runaway slave “as you would welcome me,” as a partner. 

     We use the word partner in a lot of different ways.  If you go to square dance, you have a "partner" to whom you are told to bow or curtsy.  If you join another in a business endeavor, you may be a partner with that person.  An attorney may strive to “make partner” in the law firm they work for.

      The word Paul used can mean a companion, associate, or business partner. Still, it is more closely tied to the early concept of the fellowship of Christ.  The Greek word koinonia was used to describe the New Testament family of believers.  So, Paul was referring to the koinonia, the fellowship of Christ, or "communion" that we share in as believers. 

      When Paul said, "if you consider me a partner," he was speaking of the partnership of the Gospel, but he was also saying "if you consider me part of the fellowship of the Body of Christ and a partaker in the grace of Christ.”  Paul, a part of the Body?  Well, I should think so.

      Paul called upon Philemon to welcome Onesimus as if he were welcoming Paul himself.  If Philemon rejected Onesimus, it would be like rejecting the Apostle, his friend, fellow worker, brother, and partner. Such would, of course, be unthinkable.

      Paul was willing to put not only his influence, reputation, and friendship on the line for the sake of Onesimus.  He was also willing to pay any bill that might be owed for his theft.  This was truly inconsequential compared to the other commitments of himself that Paul had laid on the table.  But it was important.  Paul was willing to go beyond words and put his money where his mouth was. 

      For Paul, who had poured his very life and every penny into the ministry of the Gospel to offer to send payment in behalf of Onesimus and "charge it to my name" would have been humbling.  Having been part of Philemon's salvation, he owed Paul his very life.  The idea of holding a financial account in his name seemed ridiculous, but Paul was willing to go that far.  He even was sure to write this in his own hand so that the commitment could not be questioned.

      There are two sides to this. 

      The partnership or koinonia of the Gospel is the most powerful of bonds between people.  There are times when we need to go more than the extra mile in standing up for a brother in Christ.  It may mean putting our influence and reputation on the line or even putting financial resources behind a person.  The fellowship of Christ is more important than financial constraints and earthly reputation. 

      There are also times when we need to recognize the partnership of the Body of Christ.  There are times when we are called to receive a believer on the reputation and recommendation of another partner in Christ and a financial matter should not get in the way of such fellowship.  This does not mean that legitimate debts should not be paid, but eternal matters always weigh heavier. 

       How are you doing in your partnership with the Body of Christ?  Are you ready to cast the weight of your influence behind another at the leading of God?  Are you willing to set aside the demands of earthly obligation to receive another?  Real partnership is much more than casual attendance or even official membership.


       Lord, teach me deeply about the koinonia of Christ.  Show me the depth of commitment that the early church shared in caring for one another and partnering for the sake of the Gospel.  In Jesus’ Name.


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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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