What an interesting little letter Philemon is. I hope you like it as much as I do. Yes, it only has only chapter, but I assure you, it’s jam-packed. Paul probably wrote this letter from that Roman prison at the same time he wrote the letter to the Colossians. He sent the letters off with Tychicus and Onesimus, which is important to note. You see, like many in Bible times, Philemon was a slaveowner. And Onesimus had been his slave. Apparently, Onesimus stole from Philemon and then ran away. Under Roman law, the penalty was death.
At some point, while Onesimus was on the lam, he met Paul and became a Christian. With encouragement from Paul, Onesimus knew he had to go back to Philemon. It was the right thing to do, even if it meant his death. So he returned to Colossae with Tychicus and this appeal for forgiveness from Paul. Not only that, but that Philemon accept Onesimus as a Christian brother. This was a tall order even for the most devout follower of Christ.
Anything but Tactful
Paul’s approach in this letter has always been interesting to me. He borders on manipulative. This is one of those times it would be handy to know ancient Greek and, additionally, to have graduated from the Roman Dale Carnegie courses. Greek and Roman teachers would have taught Paul to build rapport, to persuade the mind, and to move the emotions. Notice that Paul did not even mention Onesimus’ name until after he built rapport.
I read something that made me laugh a little. It mentioned that Paul wrote tactfully and in a light-hearted tone. Well, I’ll give you a little light-hearted, but I think this letter was anything but tactful. I think Paul had the authority and he used it. Read this little letter with me and tell me what you think at Lifting Her Voice, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.