Philemon – Restoration Is Of God

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

In this very short, but powerful letter, Paul underscores the value of restoration within the body of Christ. Too often, believers are quick to cast people aside because of their actions. Here, Paul writes of the importance of taking another look at restoring relationships which have been broken. Onesimus had been a slave in the household of Philemon, and it is believed had run away after stealing from his master. Onesimus arrived in Rome and was led to Christ through Paul’s ministry. In this letter, Paul is sending Onesimus back to Philemon to right the wrong, but he wanted to ensure Philemon received Onesimus, not as a thief but as a brother in Christ.

1. Love is the key to doing what is right

Philemon 4-7 I always thank my God when I mention you in my prayers, because I hear of your love for all the saints and the faith that you have in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your participation in the faith may become effective through knowing every good thing that is in us for the glory of Christ. For I have great joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.

  • Philemon was a man of great charity and had been a blessing to the body of Christ
  • Yet, Paul knew Onesimus was in dangerous territory in returning to Philemon because of his actions while serving Philemon
  • Paul reminded Philemon of the importance of a Christ-like love


2. Restoration requires grace

Philemon 8-11 (CSB) For this reason, although I have great boldness in Christ to command you to do what is right, I appeal to you, instead, on the basis of love. I, Paul, as an elderly man and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, 10 appeal to you for my son, Onesimus., I became his father while I was in chains. 11 Once he was useless to you, but now he is useful both to you and to me.

  • Grace is a gift granted that is undeserved
  • Paul is encouraging Philemon to forgive and show grace to Onesimus

Philemon 8-9 (NLT) That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do. But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you.


3. God will never give up on anyone

Philemon 15-22 For perhaps this is why he was separated from you for a brief time, so that you might get him back permanently, 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave—as a dearly loved brother. He is especially so to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would me. 18 And if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—not to mention to you that you owe me even your very self. 20 Yes, brother, may I benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Since I am confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 Meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, since I hope that through your prayers I will be restored to you.

  • “welcome” (vs17) – proslambanō
  • To accept; receive; grant one access into one’s heart
  • Paul was not simply asking Philemon to forgive and restore Onesimus as a slave
  • He was asking Philemon to forgive, restore and recognize who Onesimus is in the body of Christ