Paul, the Sacrificial Mediator

Scriptures: Philemon 1:1
by Jacob Abshire on May 31, 2023

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus

Philemon 1

Philemon took a hard blow to the pocketbook. The slaves felt it, too, like the church meeting at the estate. Onesimus, imprisoned in Rome, experienced his own mess. No one benefited from his sin. To make matters worse, Colossae was spiraling downward economically. Life was messy for everyone.

It would seem like it was all done in bad timing. But God saw otherwise. For, imprisoned with Onesimus was God’s slave, the apostle Paul. He described himself as a “prisoner for Christ” twice in this letter (Phile. 1, 9), a strange way to describe his Roman imprisonment unless he viewed it providentially.

This was indeed true. The Romans found him guilty of stirring up the city for preaching God’s good news. They wanted to shut him up. So they locked him up. But this only gave him a “captured” audience. He proclaimed the gospel in prison, and Onesimus responded.

Paul introduced the ungrateful slave to the most gracious master, Jesus. Overwhelmed by his guilt and needing true spiritual freedom, Onesimus surrendered to Christ and embraced Him as Lord. Christ was his new master and a more benevolent one that reconciles man to God and requires man to reconcile with others.

For a relatively short time, Paul discipled Onesimus as a son, and he became useful in ministry, the very meaning of his name. Their relationship grew stronger by the day, but they soon had to part ways. Paul remained imprisoned, but Onesimus was freed. So, from a deeply gracious heart, Paul sent Onesimus back to Colossae to seek forgiveness and be reconciled with his earthly master, Philemon.

If it were not for God, you would be confined to a life of sin. He providentially arranged the gospel to meet you head-on and give you reconciliation. Jesus sacrificed Himself to become a mediator between you and God. Have you considered His cost for your freedom? Are you grateful for His sacrifice?

  1. How does this story relate to God and His grace to forgive? What does it teach us about God and His providential plans?
  2. Have you experienced the gracious love of God that grants reconciliation? Have you sought divine forgiveness for your sins?
  3. What does this teach you about your relationship with God? How does it help you model your life more like Christ.
A New Discipleship Resource

Creative Content for Christian Men

Instead of comments, I accept and encourage letters to the editor. If you want to write a letter to the editor, you can do so here.