Love and Philemon


Introduction: Book of Philemon

1. On more than one occasion Paul referred to the love of Philemon (vs. 5, 7, 9).
2. In fact, he said he had “great joy and consolation” in that “love” (v. 7).
3. But why did Paul have that “great joy and consolation?” What would be comforting about knowing about Philemon’s love? The answer is be­cause he knew what love would do.
4. Philemon is a prime example of the love that Paul described in First Corinthians 13:4-7.
5. In the man Philemon we have an application and a demonstration of First Corinthians 13.
6. It is no wonder then that Paul appealed to Philemon to receive Onesimus back “for love’s sake” (v.9).
7. It is no wonder that Paul says,” Therefore (i.e. because of your love and faith)….I appeal to you…..” (v. 7-9). He knew what love would do.
8. In this study we will look at Philemon in light of what Paul said about the characteristics of love in First Corinthians 13:4-7.


In First Corinthians 13:4-7 Paul lists 15 characteristics of love that would be encouraging to Paul in sending Onesimus back to this man of love. Paul had great joy and comfort in the love of Philemon because love:

1. Suffers long – Paul knew that Philemon would be longsuffering with Onesimus. Philemon loved “all saints” (v. 5).

2. Is kind – Paul was kind to Onesimus because he loved him (v. 12), and he knew that love would cause Philemon to be kind to him.

3. Does not envy — Paul didn’t mind sending Onesimus back because Philemon would not be jealous over the fact that Paul had converted Onesimus, nor would he be jealous or envious of the new relationship of Paul and Onesimus.

4. Does not parade itself – Philemon, because of his love, would not parade him­self before Onesimus as if he were better than he and would not boast of any superiority.

5. Is not puffed up – Paul knew Philemon would manifest a spirit of humility toward Onesimus and be humble in his dealings with him.

6. Does not behave rudely – Paul knew that love would keep Philemon from being harsh, rude or discourteous in his treatment of Onesimus.

7. Does not seek its own – Paul was unselfish in sending Onesimus back (v.13,14) and he knew that Philemon would not be selfish in dealing with him. A selfish person would have to get even for the wrong done, but not one who loved like Philemon.

8. Is not provoked – Paul knew Philemon loved and, therefore, he was no hot head or one who flies off the handle at the drop of a hat. He would not be easily angered in dealing with Onesimus.

9. Thinks no evil – Paul knew Philemon wouldn’t mark up all the wrongs done against him by Onesimus or plan evil toward him.

10. Does not rejoice in iniquity – Philemon was not the type who like to see people in sin – he did not delight in seeing one like Onesimus do evil.

11. Rejoices in truth – Philemon would rejoice that Onesimus was now practicing truth.

12. Bears all things – Philemon would bear the wrong done to him and also bear with Onesimus. He would protect and stand by him.

13. Believes all things – Paul had confidence in Philemon (v. 21) because he cared about him (v. l) and he knew that love would cause Philemon not to doubt, distrust, or be suspicious of Onesimus. He would look for the best in him.

14. Hopes all things – He would not only look for the best in Onesimus, but he would also desire and expect it.

15. Endures all things – He would endure any wrong done by Onesimus and would stand by him and with him because of his love for him. He would not expect Onesimus to be perfect, but would support him in every way he could.

Conclusion: It is no wonder Paul had “great joy and consolation” in the love that Philemon had for all saints. It is no wonder he wanted to send Onesimus back to a man who loved like this. Paul knew what love would do. Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).

Wayne Dunaway

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