This is part 2 in our series “Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Applied Christianity in Paul’s Letter to Philemon.” I hope you’ll gather with some friends and join me for this simple study of Philemon.
Discussion #1: Why do you think Onesimus ran away?
The text of scripture doesn’t explicitly tell us, but try to put yourself into his shoes. What reasons might have have to take a drastic and risky step?
Discussion #2: When have you witnessed God’s providential hand at work in a strange way? Look both in scripture and your personal experiences.
Paul thought that, perhaps, God arranged for Onesimus to end up imprisoned so that he would come to faith. Stranger things have happened. It’s a good exercise to learn to look for God’s providential hand in our life stories, too.
Discussion #3: What does Christianity say to a slave? What is the gospel calling Onesimus to do differently than he did in the past?
Consider the following scriptures:
- Colossians 3:22-4:1
- Ephesians 6:5-9
- 1 Peter 2:13-25
- 1 Timothy 6:1-2
- Titus 2:9-10
- 1 Corinthians 7:17-24
- …and any others you can think of.
Discussion #4: What did Christianity say to you?
This is personal, but it is important. How has Christianity changed you?
We’re often blind to the changes in our own hearts, because they happen slowly and daily. We are with us all the time! But sometimes it is easier to see it in the lives of others.
How has Christianity changed someone you know and love? Can you find a way to share that encouragement, so they might be able to see the power of God at work in their lives more clearly than they do right now?
Check back soon for Part 3 of 3: How God used Paul!