BibleProject New Testament Series - Lesson 24

Philemon - BibleProject

Philemon is a letter written by Paul to his friend Philemon, who was a slave owner. The letter asks Philemon to forgive and receive back his slave Onesimus, who had run away and come into contact with Paul. Paul urges Philemon to see Onesimus not as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. The letter also addresses issues of social justice and inequality, challenging Philemon's assumptions about power and status. The letter is an example of Paul's pastoral care and his commitment to reconciliation and forgiveness.

Taught by a Team
Taught by a Team
BibleProject New Testament Series
Lesson 24
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Philemon - BibleProject

I. Introduction

A. Background and Context of Philemon

B. Authorship and Purpose

II. Literary Features of Philemon

A. Style and Language

B. Structure and Outline

III. Themes and Message of Philemon

A. Forgiveness and Reconciliation

B. Social and Cultural Implications

IV. Significance of Philemon in the New Testament

A. Contributions to a Larger Understanding of the New Testament

B. Impact on the Original Audience

  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the literary design, purpose, themes, and messages of each book in the New Testament, including the four Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, epistles of Paul, general epistles, and the book of Revelation.
  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the book of Matthew 1-13 through this lesson, including the literary design of the book, the flow of thought in each chapter, and the key themes and events. The lesson highlights the importance of Jesus' role in bringing God's kingdom to earth and inviting his disciples into a new way of life.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the Gospel book of Matthew through an overview of the first 13 chapters. You will learn how Matthew presents Jesus as the king who brings God's kingdom to earth, and how his disciples are invited to participate in this new way of life through his death and resurrection. You will also discover the central theme of the kingdom of God in Matthew, its relationship with the Church, and the call to discipleship and obedience.
  • Gain insight into the book of Mark's literary design and flow of thought, as well as Jesus' role as Israel's Messiah, inaugurating God's kingdom through his suffering, death, and resurrection.
  • By studying the Gospel of Luke, you will gain knowledge of the authorship, purpose, themes, and literary features of the Gospel, as well as a deep understanding of Luke 1-2, which narrates the miraculous births of John the Baptist and Jesus and provides models of faith and obedience. You will discover how Luke emphasizes the universality of God's love and the role of the Holy Spirit in empowering Jesus and his followers.
  • Luke's Gospel portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of God's promises told in the Old Testament, bringing the good news of God's kingdom to the poor, teaching his disciples about prayer, trust, and generosity, continuing his mission to the poor and social outsiders, celebrating God's mercy for the lost and the tragic resistance of Israel's leaders, and ultimately dying on the cross as an embodiment of God's love and mercy.
  • In the Gospel of John, the first half of the book tells stories of Jesus performing miraculous signs that lead to controversy, culminating in the raising of Lazarus and his rejection by Israel's leaders, all of which prepare us to understand Jesus as the Messiah, teacher of Israel, and Son of God who offers a new quality of life through belief in Him.
  • You will gain insights into Jesus' ministry and teachings, including the seven signs of Jesus' public ministry and his private ministry, which include the washing of the disciples' feet, farewell discourse, and high priestly prayer.
  • This lesson provides comprehensive insight into the introduction and context of the book of Acts, the early church in Jerusalem, and the gospel going to the Gentiles.
  • You will learn about the book of Acts, covering chapters 13-28, which includes Paul's missionary journeys, the Jerusalem Council, and his journey to Rome, and learn about the debates and decisions made by the apostles and elders, as well as gain insights into Paul's ministry and travels.
  • In Paul's Letter to the Romans, he explains how the gospel reveals God's righteousness, creates a new humanity fulfilling God's promise to Israel, and unifies the church, with chapters one through four laying the foundation for understanding the rest of the letter, which emphasizes that all humanity is hopelessly trapped in sin and needs to be rescued through faith in Jesus.
  • In Paul's letter to the Romans, he explores the idea that all humanity is trapped in sin and needs to be rescued through Jesus' death and resurrection, and that being in the family of Abraham means being a part of a new humanity that God is creating through Jesus and the Spirit, with the purpose of rescuing and renewing all of creation.
  • Explore 1 Corinthians to gain insights into complex problems faced by the church and how Paul responds through the gospel. Learn about unity, sexual integrity, love, worship order, and the resurrection as the foundation of hope in the future. Understand the gospel's application to all aspects of life.
  • In 2 Corinthians, you will learn about Paul's efforts to reconcile with the Corinthians, address their forgotten generosity, and confront the "super apostles" who undermine his authority, revealing the paradox of the cross and its implications for a transformed life.
  • You will gain an understanding of the background, context, and content of Galatians, including the false teaching that prompted Paul's letter, his defense of his gospel and authority, the role of the law in God's promise to Abraham, and the importance of living by the Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Gain insights into the book of Ephesians, which emphasizes the creation of unified, ethnically diverse communities through devotion to Jesus and each other.
  • This lesson on Philippians will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of its background, authorship, themes, literary features, detailed analysis of each chapter, and significance in Christian theology and impact on the church.
  • By studying Colossians, you will gain understanding of the book's authorship, background, and theological themes such as Christology, spiritual maturity, and the new humanity in Christ and how to practically apply the teachings of Colossians to the church and daily life.
  • By studying this lesson on the book of 1 Thessalonians, you will gain understanding of its background, themes, purpose, literary features, and application. You will learn about the historical and cultural relevance of the book and its personal and spiritual significance for us today.
  • You will gain an understanding of the background, purpose, and themes of 2 Thessalonians, as well as an in-depth exegesis of the text. The application of the book to historical and cultural contexts, as well as its relevance for today, is also explored.
  • This lesson provides comprehensive insights into the book of 1 Timothy, including its background, themes, and significance in the New Testament, such as its contribution to understanding church leadership and worship, the historical context of the early church, and its application for modern church life.
  • In 2 Timothy, Paul writes to Timothy from prison, urging him to stay strong in the face of persecution and to confront corrupt teachers who are causing problems in the church in Ephesus.
  • This lesson on the book of Titus provides a comprehensive understanding of its background, authorship, purpose, structure, themes, and significance, enabling you to appreciate its contributions to the New Testament, its impact on the original audience, and its relevance to the Church today.
  • Gain insights into Paul's letter to Philemon about forgiveness and reconciliation with his runaway slave, challenging assumptions about social justice and inequality, and highlighting Paul's commitment to pastoral care and reconciliation.
  • This lesson on Hebrews covers the authorship, purpose, literary genre, Christology, eschatology, and theology of the book, providing insights into Jesus as the Son of God, High Priest, and Perfect Sacrifice, the concept of Rest, Warning Passages, and the Superiority of Christ and the New Covenant, the Importance of Faith and Obedience, and the Perseverance of the Saints.
  • In the Book of James, you will explore the wisdom of Jesus' teachings and the Book of Proverbs, examining themes such as faith and works, the power of words, wealth, poverty, and wisdom, ultimately learning to live according to the "Perfect Torah of Freedom."
  • Through participating in this lesson, you will learn about 1 Peter, including information on its authorship and date, recipients and purpose, theological themes, literary features, and application. The lesson covers the book's historical and cultural context, as well as its contemporary relevance, and provides insights into how it speaks to topics such as suffering and glory, holiness and ethics, and Christology and salvation.
  • You will gain understanding of the book of 2 Peter, including its authorship, date, and literary context, as well as its theological themes, interpretation, and application. By studying 2 Peter, you will learn about false teachers and their destruction, the day of the Lord, the second coming of Christ, the certainty of God's promises, and the importance of godly living in contemporary Christian life.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the letters of John, including their historical and cultural context, authorship, purpose, literary features, themes, and messages, as well as their significance in the New Testament.
  • The book of Jude emphasizes the importance of contending for the Christian faith and exposes corrupt teachers, using both biblical and non-biblical Jewish texts as examples, ultimately highlighting that obedience to Jesus is the true indicator of genuine belief.
  • You will gain a deeper understanding of the book of Revelation, including its historical and literary context, authorship, purpose, and genre, as well as its structure, themes, and images. Additionally, you will be introduced to different interpretive approaches and learn how to apply the book to your personal life, the church, and culture.
  • This lesson provides an understanding of the book of Revelation, including its structure, content, symbolism, interpretive approaches, message, and relevance, helping you to gain insight into the nature of God, the victory of Christ, the role of the church, and the end of history.

BP150-24 - Philemon

Paul's letter to Fei Lehman. It was written during one of Paul's many imprisonments, and it's actually his shortest letter in the New Testament. But don't let its size trick you. It's actually one of the most explosive things that Paul ever wrote. Here's the back story that we can piece together from details within the letter. Phi Lehman was a well-to-do Roman citizen from Colombia who likely met Paul during his mission in Ephesus, and he became a follower of Jesus. Then later, when Paul's coworker, Epirus, started a Jesus community in colossi, Philemon became a leader of a church that met in his house. Now, Philemon, like all household patriarchs in the Roman world, owned slaves, one of whom was named O'Neal Smith. And at some point, these two had a serious conflict. Odysseus wronged by Lehman in some way. Maybe it was theft or maybe he cheated him. We don't exactly know. But afterwards, Onassis ran away. Eventually, Onassis came to Paul in prison, likely to appeal for help. And in the process, he became a follower of Jesus and then a beloved assistant of Paul. And so Paul finds himself in a very difficult and delicate situation as he writes this letter. He's going to ask Philemon not just to forgive Odysseus and receive him back, but to embrace him as a brother in the Messiah and no longer as a slave. Here's how he does it. Paul opens with a prayer, first praising Philemon and thanking God for the love and faithfulness he's shown to Jesus, to his people, and he then paves the way for his request with this line. I pray that the partnership that springs from your faith may effectively lead you to recognize all the good things that work in us, leading us into the Messiah. Now, a key word here is partnership, or in Greek koinonia. It means sharing or mutual participation. It's when two or more people receive something together and share in it becoming partners. Paul's saying that faithfulness to Jesus means recognizing that all of his followers are equal partners who share together in the gift of God's love and grace. And for Paul, this experience of koinonia among Jesus followers, it's not just an idea that you think about. It's something that you do in your relationships, which moves Paul on to his request. He finally brings up on Decimus. He says that he's become Paul's child in prison, meaning that Paul led Onassis to dedicate his life and allegiance to Jesus. And so Paul, in an isthmus, are now family members in the Messiah. He's been serving Paul faithfully in prison. And even though Paul wants to keep him around, he knows that this unresolved conflict with Fi Lehman has to be reconciled. If they say that they're followers of Jesus, which moves Paul on to his bold request that fi Lehman receive Onassis back no longer as a slave, but as more than a slave as a beloved brother in the Lord. Now, this is a really tall order. Under Roman law, Phi Lehman had every legal right to have Onassis punished or put in prison. And Paul's not only asking him to forgive Onassis, but to welcome back his former slave into Nicholas as a social equal, as a family member. This is way more than kindness. This is unheard of. It's freeing a slave and then treating them like a family member. It upsets the status quo of the Roman social order. Why should Philemon do such a thing? And here Paul pulls a brilliant move. He recalls that key word from the opening prayer. He says, If you're truly a partner with me, it's that Greek word Koinonia again. Then welcome Owen Smith as if he were me. And if he's wronged you or owes you anything, charge it to me and I will repay it. So in this request, we see the heart of Paul's gospel message being acted out. It's first of all, about reconciliation. It's just like he told the Corinthians in the Messiah. God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people's sins against them. So in this situation, Paul is putting himself in the place of Jesus. He will absorb the consequences of an Islamist wrongdoing. He will pay the cost so that he can be reconciled to fight Lehman. But Paul's message was about more than just a legal transaction. It's also about Koinonia. Odysseus and Philemon and Paul are all equals before God. They all share the same need for forgiveness. And so the ground is level before the cross, which means the fire. Liman and non-Islamists can no longer relate to each other as master and slave, their family members, their brothers in the Messiah. Or, as Paul told Phil Lehman and the whole Church of Colossi in God's new family. People are not Greek or Jewish or circumcised or uncircumcised, or foreigners, or uncivilized or slave or free. But the. Messiah is all and is in all people. Paul closes the letter stating his confidence that Heilemann will do even more than Paul's requested, and he asks him to prepare a guestroom because he wants to visit as soon as he gets out of prison. And then with some final greetings, Paul ends the letter. Paul's letter to Fi Liman is powerful for many reasons. It's the only letter where Paul doesn't explicitly mention Jesus's death or resurrection. And this is not an oversight. He doesn't need to explain the cross with words because he's demonstrating it through his actions. Paul's embodying here the meaning of the cross. He has made himself the place through which only Smith and Fi Liman are reconciled to God and then to each other. This letter also shows us that the implications of the good news about Jesus, they are extremely personal and never private. The fact that Fi Lehman's non-Islamists are now brothers in the Messiah, it makes their master slave relationship totally irrelevant. The family of Jesus people is the place where all are equal recipients of God's grace. It's a new kind of society or a new humanity, as he called it in the letter to the collections, where people's value and social status, it's not defined by race or gender or social or economic class. In the Messiah, there are simply new humans who are equal partners, who share together in God's healing mercy through Jesus. And that's what Paul's letter to Fi Liman is all about.