A Useful Person

Title: A Useful Person

Bible Book: Philemon 1 : 10

Author: Kenneth Hendricks

Subject: Forgiveness; Love; Kindness



Now we’re looking at the intent of Paul’s letter to Philemon …my son Onesimus… vs. 10. Can you imagine how Philemon’s eyes must have widened as they fell upon the word Onesimus? Onesimus means a useful person. What a fitting name for a child of God. I’m positive because of human nature that the last nine verses just fell from Philemon’s mind and he’s probably thinking at this time WOW! Paul captured Onesimus! But as he looks back at the words my son Philemon has to wonder where the letter is going.

I. Paul’s Special Relationship, vs. 10.

A. His Desire For Philemon, vs. 10.

I beseech thee… vs. 10. This is an interesting phrase. The word beseech is the Greek word par ak al eh o and means to speak in a way that will exhort and comfort. Its hard work to get Philemon excited about Onesimus. To get Philemon to feel good about Onesimus isn’t going to be an easy task and Paul knows it! Paul has reminded Philemon of their special relationship. He’s literally saying to Philemon, Remember what I’ve said? Now listen to what I’m going to say. You see, up until this time Philemon thought Paul was about to ask him to be the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Not only do we see his desire for Philemon but also his description of Onesimus.

B. His Description Of Onesimus, vs. 10.

…for my son… vs. 10. This had to knock Philemon off his feet! What could Paul possibly mean my son? Was there some illegitimacy he didn’t know about? Surely Onesimus wasn’t a secret child of Paul’s! Did Paul witness to a worthless, run away slave and he’s claimed to accept Christ? This

phrase in the Greek actually says for my child. It was a tender and affectionate reference to Onesimus as Paul’s spiritual child. Now the cat’s out of the bag! Now to the meat of the letter! Now to where the rubber meets the road! Paul has Philemon’s undivided attention. Paul not only had a special relationship to Philemon but now to Onesimus also. Not only do we see Paul's special relationship, we also see Paul's spiritual revelation.

II. Paul’s Spiritual Revelation, vs. 10.

A. Personal Background Wasn’t An Obstacle, vs. 10.

…whom I have begotten… vs. 10. Paul is telling Philemon, Onesimus has gotten saved! A slave saved? Yes! Paul didn’t let someone’s personal background stop him from witnessing! Oh, for the boldness of Paul! We need the boldness of Paul! He traveled and witnessed! He wrote and witnessed! He went to prison and witnessed! Whatever he did, wherever he went he witnessed! Paul didn’t care who you were or what your personal background was you would hear about Christ before you could get away from him! We see not only personal background wasn't an obstacle but also prison bars weren't an obstacle.

B. Prison Bars Weren’t An Obstacle, vs. 10.

…in my bonds: vs. 10. Paul is saying, Philemon, guess where I am? Guess who I met? Guess who got saved? Yep, Onesimus! Prison bars were no obstacle to Paul’s preaching! I’m wondering what would happen if we had a few hundred Pauls in our Southern Baptist churches. Think about it! What are our obstacles in sharing Christ? For Paul there were none! For us there should be none!

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