Paul’s Letter To One Colossian Friend

Paul’s other letter from Rome to Colosse was intended for one specific friend – Philemon (323). It was sent by the same messengers — Tychicus & Onesimus — who carried the letter for the Colossian church body.

Onesimus was a slave who had run away from his master, Philemon, in Colosse.  Apparently, Onesimus had stolen something from Philemon before he ran away.

Eventually, Onesimus found his way to Paul, in Rome.  There, in that miraculous & marvelous way in which God can redeem the heart of any sinner, Onesimus had become a believer & had surrendered his life to Jesus.  Now, as he was about to leave Rome to go back to Colosse, Paul gave him this letter for Philemon.

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Paul’s opening prayer tells us that this letter is going to give us a very specific example of what living in the Spirit of Christ is like.  It’s going to be a call to Christian action on the part of Philemon.  Accordingly, Paul then appeals to Philemon to be merciful to Onesimus, who is no longer a slave but is now their Christian brother.

Paul backs up his appeal with his personal promise to repay Philemon anything he is owed on account of Onesimus.

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Effectively, Paul lays aside his rights for the benefit of his brother Onesimus – which is a great illustration of what Jesus has done for every sinner who has believed.

Subsequent church records indicate that Onesimus may eventually have gone on to become the leader of the church at Ephesus (after Timothy).

Onesimus may also be the person who first collected all of Paul’s letters — to assure they were preserved for future generations of Christians.

Thank you, Onesimus.  Thank you, Paul.  Thank you, Jesus.

God, please help me to love surrendering my rights to You.

(323) Philemon

Thomas

Thomas, one of the twelve chosen witnesses, was not there when Jesus came (222). When he joined them later the other witnesses told him, “We have seen Jesus!”

Thomas said to them, “Unless I put my finger on the scars of the nails in his hands & put my hand on the wound in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later the witnesses were together again behind locked doors; this time Thomas was with them. Again, Jesus appeared suddenly among them & said, “Be filled with peace.”

Jesus turned to Thomas & said, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then put your hand in my side. Stop doubting & believe.” Then Thomas did believe & exclaimed, “My Master & my God!”

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Jesus replied with this promise: “Do you believe because you see me? Many people will believe without seeing me & they will be blessed by God for their faith.”

John the Witness wrote down many accounts of events in the life & ministry of Jesus.  He wanted his readers to believe that Jesus is the Messiah of God.  He wanted you to have new life by believing in Jesus.

At the end of his account of the life & ministry of Jesus, John also testified that Jesus did many other miracles which were not written down.

 

(222) John 20:24-31

The Way: Persecution & Help

Jesus taught his friends a little about how he would help them in the midst of persecution (196).

“When the world hates you, remember that the world hated me first. If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you. But I’ve called you to love God & to be separate from this world; that’s why the world hates you.

“Remember that I told you: ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ So if the world persecutes me, the world will definitely persecute you, too.

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“But, if people do the things I’ve taught, then people will do the things you teach, too, because you are connected to me!  They may not have known God, but through me they can know God, and through you they can know me.

“The people of this world would never have understood that they are guilty of their sins before God – unless I had taught them this, and unless I had done miracles among them.  But now, the people of this world can no longer plead ignorance of their guilt before God.

“Nevertheless, many people will still choose to love themselves & hate me.  And anyone who hates me hates God also! This simply fulfills what was written in the inspired scriptures: ‘They hated me for no reason at all.’

“In the midst of all this persecution, the Holy Spirit will help you bear fruit for God.  I will send the Spirit to you from God.  He will continue to teach you about me, so you can continue to teach others about me.  I chose you from the very beginning for this very purpose – to be my witnesses.

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“I have told you many things about God & his plan for you.   Remember everything I’ve taught you, and hold on to your faith in me — even though people of the world will persecute you because of your faith in me!

“They will expel you from the synagogues, and they will even kill you, thinking they are serving God! They’ll think that way because they do not really know God & they do not really know me.”

 

(196) John 15:18-16:3

The Way: Lead By Serving

Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and return to God (187). But it was hard, because he dearly loved the chosen witnesses who had stayed with him for three years.

Jesus rose from the table, took a towel, and poured some water into a basin.  Then he began to wash the feet of his students.

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Peter was surprised & asked Jesus, “Are you going to wash my feet, Master?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but you will understand soon.”

Peter declared, “But it’s not right for you to wash my feet!” “If you won’t learn this lesson,” Jesus said, “you will no longer be my student.”

Peter immediately changed his tune: “Master, don’t just wash my feet! Wash my hands & head, too!” But Jesus replied, “No, it’s only necessary that your feet be washed.”

After Jesus had washed their feet, he returned to his place at the table. “Do you understand what I have just done to you? You call me teacher & master, and that is what I am.

“So, if I, your teacher & master, have just washed your feet, then you must be willing to wash one another’s feet. I have set an example for you; you must serve others as I have served you.

Helping-others

“No slave is greater than his master, and no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.

“Now that you have been taught this, you must put it into practice.  You must serve others as I have served you.”

 

(187) John 13:1-17

Growing God’s Kingdom

Next, Jesus told a story about how to remain ready for his return — by service that actually grows God’s kingdom (180).

“Once there was a man who was going on a trip; he left certain of his servants in charge of his funds. He assigned funds to each one according to his ability.  To one he gave five thousand gold coins, to another he gave two thousand, and to another he gave one thousand. Then he left on his trip.

“The servant with five thousand coins invested the money & earned another five thousand. The servant who had received two thousand coins invested the money & earned another two thousand. But the servant with one thousand coins simply hid his master’s money in a safe place.

“Eventually, the master came back to settle accounts with the servants. First, the servant with five thousand coins reported that he had earned another five thousand. ‘Well done, you good & faithful servant!’ said his master. ‘Because you have been faithful in managing small amounts of my money, I will put you in charge of managing larger amounts. I want you to be happy about this, as I am.’

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“Next, the servant with two thousand coins reported that he had earned another two thousand.  ‘Well done, you good & faithful servant!’ said his master. ‘Because you have been faithful in managing small amounts of my money, I will put you in charge of managing larger amounts. I want you to be happy about this, as I am.’

“Last, the servant with one thousand coins came in and said, ‘Sir, I know you are a hard man & I didn’t want to disappoint you.  I hid your money in a safe place, so now I can return your money to you.’

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‘That’s a terrible report!’ his master said. ‘You should at least have deposited my money in the bank, so it would have earned some interest while I was gone.’

“Then the master took back the one thousand coins & gave them to the servant with ten thousand coins.  And the master explained,

  • ‘Everyone whose service grows my kingdom will be given more responsibility & opportunity.
  • But everyone whose service does not grow my kingdom will have responsibility & opportunity taken away.’

“Then the master said of the last servant: ‘Throw this useless man outside in the darkness & let him grind his teeth in pain.'”

 

(180) Matthew 25:14-30

. . . Ready Or Not!

Jesus then repeated some earlier illustrations to emphasize the importance of staying ready for his return (178).

“Consider this situation.  If a homeowner knew the exact time when a thief would come to break in, you know he would stay awake to protect his house.

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“In the same way, you must always be ready for my return, because I will come at an hour when you are not expecting me.

“Here’s another situation.  Say one servant has been placed in charge of his master’s house & his household servants, while the master is away on business.   If the master returns from his trip & finds that his servant has done all as ordered, he will consider that servant faithful & wise.  In fact, the master will probably promote that servant to be in charge of all his property.

good servant

“On the other hand, if the servant thinks his master won’t come back for a long time, and if he beats his fellow servants & spends all his time with drunkards, then things will turn out differently.  The master will come back one day when the servant doesn’t expect him.  Then the master will torture that servant & throw him out with the other hypocrites, where he will end up grinding his teeth in perpetual pain.

bad servant

“Again, you have to stay ready, because you cannot know exactly when I will come back.”

During these last few days, many people came to the temple every morning to hear Jesus teach.  Each evening he would leave the temple & spend the night on the Mount of Olives.

 

(178) Matthew 24:45-51, Mark 13:34-37, Luke 21:37-38

Serve God By Serving People

Then Jesus began to warn the crowds & his students about the many dangers of stubborn religion (171).

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees are the authorized interpreters of Moses’ law, so you must obey what they tell you to do.  But don’t imitate what they do, because they don’t practice what they preach.

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“They impose heavy loads on the people under them, but they aren’t willing to lift even a finger to help them carry those loads.

“They are obsessed with outward appearances. That’s why they always carry around copies of verses from the inspired scriptures, and that’s why they always wear those long tassels on their cloaks.

“They love to sit in the best places at feasts & to have special reserved seats in the synagogues.

“They love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to have people call them ‘Master.’

“But it’s not right for them to presume to be called ‘Master’ because you are all brothers & you have only one master. And it’s not right for them to presume to be called ‘Father’ because you all have only one father in heaven. Also, it’s not right for any man to presume to be called ‘Teacher’ — because I am your only teacher.

“The greatest among you will not be so preoccupied with being served.  The greatest among you will be preoccupied with serving others.

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“Anyone who makes himself great in this age will be humbled in the next.

“But anyone who humbles himself in this age will be made great in the next.”

 

(171) Matthew 23:1-12, Mark 12:38-40, Luke 20:45-47