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Read Introduction to Philemon


“I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains…”


I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,

Paul repeats the word “appeal” from verse 9, giving emphasis to this word.  This word denotes encouragement and not a command.  Paul pleads to Philemon to forgive his slave for stealing from him and running away. 

Paul calls Onesimus his “son.”  Paul fathered Onesimus in the faith.  This is a term of affection.  Philemon’s runaway slave, someone not dear to him, was dear to Paul. 

1 Ti 1:2, “To Timothy, a true son in the faith…”

2 Ti 1:2, “To Timothy, a beloved son…”

Ti 1:4, “To Titus, a true son in our common faith…”

whom I have begotten while in my chains

Paul led Onesimus to the Lord in prison.  Paul was not only a prisoner, but he was a prisoner in chains.  He did not need comfort or the right situation to lead someone to Christ. 

Philemon came from the upper crust of society, and Onesimus came from the scum of society.  Jesus touched both of them equally

1 Co 4:15, “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”


God uses individuals to lead others to Christ. 


God saves people from all levels of society equally.  He saves the down and out and the up and out.  It makes no difference to Him.  We come to Him just as we are without privilege or status.  The grace of God reaches into any strata of society. 

God uses Christians to reach those without Christ.  When we lead someone to Christ, they are our spiritual children.  They are our “sons” in the gospel (Ti 1:4).  We do not have the personal power to regenerate people.  We are simply the conveyors of truth. 

Ro 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”