Philemon was a wealthy slave owner and was a resident of Colosse. He owned Onesimus, Philemon was a believer and the church assembled in his house.
Paul intercedes for Philemon’s runaway slave, Onesimus who is a member of the body of Christ by pleading for mercy for him from his master and reminding him of his duty to a fellow member of the body of Christ. He commends Philemon regarding his compassion towards the needs of a fellow believer and to effect restoration and forgiveness.
Philemon is a testimony of the power of the grace of God. Whereas Onesimus was a thief and a runaway slave, he became a fellow believer and beloved brother.
The book of Philemon teaches us that social evils can only be changed by – – – transformed lives, there is no other way to change the world other than by preaching the Gospel of Christ and so changing peoples’ outlooks/perspectives.
It tells us the worth of a soul. Whereas Onesimus was only worthy of death in the eyes of the world, he was transformed by the Gospel. of Christ and became a beloved member of the body of Christ in God’s eyes and gained equal status with other members of the body of Christ. When a person changes by believing the Gospel, it demands restitution. Philemon also teaches us that Christians are to bear one another’s burdens…… yet personally I cannot see much of that going on today……
As Onesimus was reconciled to Philemon voluntarily, so we are reconciled to God through our own free will. Romans 5:10-11:
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.