Philemon 4-7- 4 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.

Philemon is the shortest of all New Testament epistles; just a note really. Likely Philemon is one of many short epistles Paul wrote while in prison. Ever wonder what happened to the rest? For some reason the Holy Spirit elected to elevate this briefest of all New Testament books to the position of Holy Scripture.

In this one chapter we are introduced to two important characters: Philemon and Onesimus. Onesimus was a slave owned by Philemon who had run away and was currently ministering to Paul in Rome. Paul was very concerned that he might have to go back.

In this passage we are introduced to Onesimus’ owner. Despite being a slave owner Philemon appears to be someone who lived an exemplary Christian life.

PHILEMON WAS A MAN OF LOVE

5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints,

Two of the great loves of Philemon’s life are mention in verse 5. He loved the Lord and he loved those who belonged to the Lord. Anyone who says he loves the Lord and doesn’t love the Lord’s church is not telling the truth or doesn’t know what love is. If we love the Lord we will want to have fellowship with the Lord’s family – the church. If there is no craving for that fellowship then there is likely a problem between us and God.

When you are devoted to the Lord He will put it in your heart to love those he love. Philemon loved both.

PHILEMON WAS A MAN OF FAITH

5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints,

The word ”faith” is actually a simple word. It has to do with trust. When God makes us we have to choose whether or not to trust Him. We all have faith if we are trusting in Jesus but some seem to have a special capacity for trusting that God’s promises are true for them in particular.

When God makes us a promise He means to keep it. Faith takes a lot of stress and strain out of life because it teaches us that we are not totally responsible for how life turns out. Philemon was a man of great faith because he believed the Lord would keep His promises.

PHILEMON WAS AN IMPARTIAL MAN

5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints,

Philemon loved all of the saints and not just some of them. Apparently, his love had no favorites. Admittedly, it’s easier to love some people more than others. However, a person of great love can set aside those differences and still love the person underneath.

Isn’t that what Jesus did? Those, like Philemon, who can love unconditionally are more like Jesus than anyone else.

PHILEMON WAS AN EVANGELISTIC MAN

6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus

Apparently, Philemon was already sharing his faith with others. Paul didn’t pray that he would be directed to share his faith only that his evangelistic efforts would be effective. How might they become effective? Paul wrote that Philemon’s witness would be effective as long as he acknowledged or gave primary place to everything in his life that was of God.

I’ve noticed that the most successful witnesses are those who give God first place in their lives. God will put it in their hearts to witness and then give them success.

5. PHILEMON WAS A MAN OF MINISTRY

7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.

To ”refresh” is to ease or put in a state of repose. The word ”repose” simply means to ”relax.” When you come in from a long day at work, sit in your recliner, and kick up your feet, you are in a state of repose. This is how Philemon made other believers feel when he ministered to them. Isn’t it good to have people like this around. They are a special gift from God.

Philemon was not a man who agitated people. He relaxed them by his demeanor and his obvious love for them. This is what a man who is living an exemplary Christian life does.

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About The Author

Dr. Bradley is an expository preacher. He believes in the inerrancy of Scripture and has dedicated himself to preaching God’s Word without apology for the past 40 years. Dr. Bradley has served as the senior pastor in 8 Southern Baptist churches in Mississippi and Florida since 1978. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Clara, First Baptist Church, Waynesboro, MS., where he has served for the past 11 years. He is a two time graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, LA., having received the M.Div. Degree in 1981 and the D.Min. Degree in 1988. In addition to his preaching and pastoral responsibilities, Dr. Bradley has participated in many short term mission projects around the world, preaching in such places as India, Japan, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Guatemala, Alaska, and China.

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