Pastor Andy's Blog

Onesimus

We are introduced to Onesimus in Paul's letter to his friend Philemon. Onesimus was a runaway slave who belonged to Philemon. He had rebelled and run from his obligation to serve under Roman law as a slave. Somehow he connected with the apostle Paul in Rome and repented of his sin and believe the gospel. This is why Paul says I have begotten him while in my chains.

Paul says something very interesting about Onesimus. Phm 1:15  "For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever," 

The implication is that God was sovereign and even over the rebellion of Onesimus. Could it be, Paul says, that the purpose of his rebellion and disobedience was to bring him to a place where he could hear the gospel and believe unto salvation. 

This is a perfect example of Romans 8:28-29. Though what Onesimus did was not good, God used it for good in his life and in the ministry of the apostle Paul.

Onesimus is also beautiful picture of the difference between law and grace. Onesimus was a slave. He served under compulsion and apparently resented every moment. When the grace of God intervened in his life his relationship with service changed. What he once did under compulsion and resentment he was now please to do though free not to.

He pictures for us perfectly our relationship to righteousness before and after conversion. God saves us we are constrained by law to righteousness and service to others. After the grace of God enters our life we are constrained by love to righteousness and service to others.

After Onesimus had believed the gospel his relationship with Paul changed also.  He immediately became "a faithful and beloved brother." His attitude of gratitude and selflessness made him a good coworker and ministry partner with Tychicus.

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