Daily Devotional Thursday 11th June 2020

by William Moody

Philemon 8–11

Paul’s Plea for Onesimus

Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus—10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus,1 whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.)


[1] 1:10 Onesimus means useful (see verse 11) or beneficial (see verse 20)


Here we see the main reason for Paul’s letter. It is regarding a former slave of Philemon’s called Onesimus. The name Onesimus means ‘useful’ or ‘profitable’, but it appears that he was the opposite to his name because he stole money from Philemon and ran away.

Paul’s and Onesimus’ paths crossed in prison with the result that Onesimus was converted (v10). This transformation in Onesimus’ life meant that he was now at last ‘useful’.

Philemon would have felt aggrieved at what Onesimus had previously done and it is interesting how Paul appeals to him (v8-9). As an apostle he could have commanded Philemon but rather because of Philemon’s love and maturity, Paul appeals to that.

Initially as Christians we do what is right mainly out of a sense of duty and to obey the Lord’s commands. But as we mature the reasons for why we do what is right should change to be because of a growing love produced in us by Christ. Is your Christian life maturing in this way? Is obeying Christ for you an arduous duty or a loving delight?

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
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