As we begin our exploration of Philemon, we place ourselves in Philemon’s seat as the letter from Paul is being read in the church. In this letter we recognize that if the gospel has transformed us in our hearts, it will unfold to transform the nature of relationships within our community. This gospel transformation gives us the freedom and responsibility to forgive those who wrong us, and to treat other Christ-followers not as the world treats others, but as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ…
and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.