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The Tiny Letter

The Tiny Letter

Words of Faith 12-18-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Philemon 1

       [1] Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, [2] to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home: [3] Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


      There could not be a better time to consider Paul’s tiny letter to Philemon.  Many have concluded that the brief letter to Philemon was written at the same time as Colossians and then was carried from Rome to Colosse by Tychicus. 

      We don’t know for sure, but Paul may very well have sealed Colossians with his own signature. Still, before the ink could dry and the secretary could pack up his things, Paul had one more letter to dictate.  The quill was dipped again and put to parchment in order to convey a short but personal message from Paul to Philemon and his household.

       These two letters were probably handed together to Tychicus.  Remember him? The guy named Lucky?  He was the “faithful minister” or “trusted assistant” who traveled with the Apostle on the third missionary journey and from Macedonia to Jerusalem. Now he would deliver the Colossian letter, but he was not alone.

      What we don’t want to miss is that Tychicus was accompanied on that journey by a runaway slave named Onesimus, who was the “property” of Philemon under Roman law.  And the church at Colosse was meeting in the home of Philemon.  Do you see the drama here?

      Philemon was a wealthy resident of Colosse who had come to faith in Christ under the preaching of Paul.  The two apparently became friends during Paul’s three-year ministry in Ephesus. And Paul knew the family—Philemon’s wife, Apphia, and Archippus, his son.  The church at Colosse met in this home.  Archippus seems to have been serving as pastor to the church in the absence of Epaphras who was with Paul.

      So.  How can a Christian leader be a slave-owner?  The answers are simpler in the modern world, but the dilemma is the same.  Even in the ancient world where a “kinder gentler” form of slavery was commonly used for paying debts and establishing basic labor, could a Christian believer actually “own” another Christian believer?  And what about someone who robs a believer and then becomes a believer himself?  Is business always business, and the rule of law always to the letter?

       Let’s take a look through the lens of Paul’s letter to Philemon. 


     Father God, teach me through Your Word.  Challenge me to walk your Word and not just hear it.  Show me the way that You want me to be salt and light in a world that needs to know Jesus. 


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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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