Philemon 15–16 (ESV) — 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant 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.
Paul wanted to see reconciliation between Philemon and Onesimus. We saw this in yesterday’s reading, but it becomes even more clear today. “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you,” Paul wrote. Notice that Paul emphasizes that Onesimus was “parted from” Philemon. This was the work of God and needed to be seen as such. Also, Onesimus was returning as more than a bondservant. He was now a beloved brother. He too was a believer in Jesus Christ and part of the church family. The relationship between Philemon and Onesimus was now deeper and greater than it had ever been, as equals and fellow heirs in Christ.
The Church is made up of all different kinds of people from all different walks of life. Yet, in Christ, we are brothers and sisters. The world divides over so many things, but in the Church, the dividing walls are removed and we stand in unity and as equals. Onesimus, in the world’s eyes, was a slave and inferior to Philemon, his master. In Christ, they were brothers and co-heirs of the promises that belong to all believers. This is why our relationships with one another inside the church are so important. They reflect the gospel truths we preach. Do our lives reflect our words?
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