Paul had the apostolic authority to demand reconciliation between Philemon and his runaway slave Onesimus. Instead, he appealed to them on the basis of love. Alistair Begg emphasizes that love is foundational in our service to Christ and our responses to each other. Just as Paul encouraged Philemon to welcome Onesimus’s return as a brother, our relationships should also be radically transformed by Christ.
8Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus,2 whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11(Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13I 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, 14but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16no longer as a bondservant3 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.
Copyright © 2020, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.