Something I have always wondered is why on earth is Philemon in the Bible? I mean, the book is tiny and it is to a guy named Philemon not a church. and it seems to be about a runaway slave. What is the deal here? And how do you pronounce it? fie-LEE-mon, FIE-lee-mon, FIL-leh-mon
Well I don't know that I will ever know the pronunciation. But I may be starting to see what it is all about. Onesimus was a slave that seems to have run away. Now that is a guess on my part because he was a slave and was separated from his owner and Paul is writing to get Philemon to take him back as a brother, but Paul only says they are separated. Somehow they ended up meeting. Most likely since Paul was in jail in Rome, Onesimus ended up there as well. In jail, Onesimus was led to Christ by Paul. So Paul is trying to help him make things right by going back to his master. Paul is in effect being a mediator between this slave and his owner. Much like Christ has mediated for us to the Father. In verse 18 Paul saying "If he has wronged you or owes you anything... charge it to me." Sounds like the savior standing in place of us before the throne of God. Don't just take these people as a slave anymore, take them as something better. A picture of how we can live like Christ.
Now here is a second layer to that onion. Onesimus is going back to his owner. So he is having to ask for forgiveness and that is never an easy thing to do. It would have been easier to stay away. We as Christians need to do the same thing. When we wrong someone, we should ask for forgiveness because it is the right thing to do. We don't ever find out how things turned out. Did Philemon accept him back as Paul asked or did he punish Onesimus? What does it matter? Onesimus did the right thing regardless of how it turned out.