The Appeal part II
Paul continues his appeal to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, which I must point out whose name means “Useful.”
Philemon verses 10-18. “I beseech three for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: Whom I have sent again; thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels; Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel; But without thy mind (Consent) would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly. For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou should receive him forever; not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or owes thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it.”
Are you beginning to see the similarities between the story of the prodigal son and Onesimus? The son wanted to come back, not as a son, but as a servant, but the father welcomed him back as a son, considering him still heir of the father. Here Paul is saying to Philemon: “welcome Onesimus back to yourself, not as a servant but as a brother.” Where does Paul get this from.
Perhaps he was thinking of John 15:15 where Christ says, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” Or, perhaps Paul is expressing the idea as he wrote to the Galatians: “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:7).
Paul reminds Philemon of our common kinship through Christ, in that by being converts, we are all sons and daughters of God. As God welcomes His erring children home, so should Philemon welcome Onesimus back, no longer to be treated as a slave, but as a son.
Paul appealed to kinship for in society of the time, there was no greater bond than kinship. God too honors kinship, for through Christ, our kinship to God the father has been restored. The debt has been paid, and faithful followers have the assurance of life with Christ.