Philemon 10-18……What will a father do for his son?

I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.

Comment: ‘For my child’ is an interesting phrase. We have two adopted sons adopted when they were near teenage years, but they are both legally and emotionally our children as precious to us as those born from our bodies. Here Paul is talking about an adult deceitful slave who had escaped his owner’s power and it seems as if he escaped with some significant stolen stuff. As Onesimus became a believer in Jesus you could argue that he became, as God’s convert, through Paul’s ministry, his ‘brother in Christ’. Paul knew this man and treated him as his son. We can all understand his thinking as he had delivered this very wayward rebellious slave into the freedom of being a forgiven child of God.

Yet on paper he, Onesimus, was still legally a slave of Philemon. Philemon had the right to bring the whole power of the Roman law down onto his escaped slave’s head. Paul argues the case, as you can read, and ends by saying ‘If, after considering what has happened, you need recompense, then I will meet it in full!’ How far will a father go for a loved son?

Prayer: Help me to live in such a way that that my actions reflect Your ways, O God!

One thought on “Philemon 10-18……What will a father do for his son?

  1. Thank you Barry for your comments on this passage. We as Christians, have been adopted into the family of God, and become His children when we have repented and had our sins washed away in the blood of His Son, Jesus our Saviour. Darryl always used to explain that the name “Onesimus” meant “useful” and Onesimus’s life went from being useless, to useful. God can use us when we have our hearts and our lives changed by Him. God bless you.


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