The Word This Week

Philemon 1:1...

Many times - maybe even most of the time – when we are in a bad situation we think of ourselves first, seeking sympathy from others rather than having sympathy for others.

As we have come to expect, Paul defies normal human behavior by considering others above himself.

Paul is in prison, (most likely some form of house-arrest,) at Rome. He is accused and held for a crime he did not commit. He is in grave danger here. During his first imprisonment, Nero was just beginning the process of feeding people to the lions as a form of entertainment for those filling the Colosseum. This was the era of ‘Bread and Circuses’ in the Roman culture, and the lives of slaves, captives of war, and those held in prison were both expendable and useful for entertainment. In a despicable way, the people were ‘entertained’ by the sight of watching animals consume less-fortunate human beings.

Paul was one of those in line for becoming food for lions. He had been arrested at Jerusalem and shipped to this imprisonment, (his first imprisonment,) at Rome. Of course, he had been falsely accused of insurrection, which only made this more threatening to Paul. Insurrectionists were those put to death with all haste. They made good lion food for the Romans.

Rather than fretting away his (perhaps) very limited time remaining, Paul wrote a series of letters to the churches he had planted. These are his ‘prison epistles.’ We are very thankful for these letters because they reinforce the sound doctrine to be taught the Church for all time.

(We are doubly-thankful Paul was released from prison. He was found not-guilty in his trial – which we know very little of save for the fact Paul was faithful to present the entire Gospel message to those who sat in judgment.) (2 Tim 4:17)

The point here is rather than bemoan the situation of wrongful imprisonment Paul finds himself in, he goes to work sharing the Gospel with the guards he is chained to – and writing letters to the churches he had been part of. He makes great use of whatever time he has. One of those letters is very personal. His letter to Philemon is not for a church per se but is very beneficial for all churches to see the heart-attitude we are to have for those who have done much wrong prior to being saved by the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Bill