by Henry T. Vriesen
Acts 28; Philemon 1
The long cherished desire of Paul to see the imperial city of Rome and to preach the gospel in the center of the great world empire was fully realized. Rome was a magnificent city but also was wicked and corrupt. Young Nero had just begun his wicked reign of crime. “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”
While Paul was at Rome many friends were attached to him; among them was Timothy, whom he called “my own son in the faith,” Luke of whom he wrote “my beloved physician,” and Aristarchus who had journeyed with him. At one time a good friend came to him from Philippi in Macedonia, named Epaphroditus, who brought a message of the church and also some gifts for the apostle’s needs. During his stay at Rome, Paul wrote the following epistles: Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians. One day Paul met a man named Onesimus, a slave who had run away from his master Philemon at Colossae near Ephesus. Now Philemon was a close friend of Paul. This slave Onesimus accepted the salvation offered in Christ after receiving instruction from Paul. Of him he says, “Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel.” But Paul felt that it was his duty to send him back to his master. At that time he wrote a letter, namely, “The Epistle of Paul to Philemon.” In this epistle he writes, “Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints … I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: which in times past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels: whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel … For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him forever; not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, especially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wr6nged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account … I will repay it … Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord … having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say … The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”For further information on this resource, click here.