The book of Philemon isn’t studied as often in the church as many other books in the Bible, partly because the subject isn’t always comfortable for us in today’s society. In the letter, the apostle Paul writes to Philemon concerning his escaped slave, Onesimus, who had sought Paul out during his imprisonment in Rome.
Paul had the opportunity to teach the Gospel to Onesimus, who converted to Christ. He was then left with the question of what to do about his former life in bondage. In his letter, Paul provides a model to us of appealing to each other in love, tact, and understanding, while still clearly pointing the way to God’s truth. As Paul writes, he could have simply used his station as apostles and commanded that Philemon free Onesimus, but instead he points out the blessing of accepting this new brother not as a servant, but as a fellow freeman in Christ.
The letter provides examples for us today in dealing with brothers and sisters in the church who may have different viewpoints, ideas, and backgrounds. How do we accommodate each other and build each other up in a way that preserves the unity to which we are called in Christ?