Topic: Christian Fellowship: Lessons From Paul to Philemon (Part 1)
(Self Assessment 148)
Introduction: In John 13: 34- 35, the Lord Jesus told us of a new command saying, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Beloved, this is supposed to be the bedrock of our Christian fellowship; mutual love and respect for one other in all things; being there for each other and helping each other to foster strength to do exploits for the kingdom of God.
That is why Apostle Paul wrote saying, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col 3: 1, 5-6, 8- 10, 12- 14).
From the above, you can see that the fellowship in Christ most of us claim to share is not as authentic as the Word of God admonishes. The love for one another is questionable: we lie to one another and even compete with each other to establish superiority; one that is definitely not for service but for sabotage and political advantage.
One main reason why things are so is because most of us continue to carry the old self with us and refuse to allow the Word of God to rid us off it so that we can put on the new man. For this reason, many of us profess Christ but our deeds are the exact opposite of all that Jesus stands for.
Background to Bible Study: Onesimus used to work for Philemon as his slave. Onesimus run from his master’s household and found himself with Paul and his team. After nurturing him in the Lord, Paul decided that the more Christian thing to do was to send Onesimus back to his master, Philemon. But not without a letter that should appeal to Philemon’s Christianity to accept Onesimus back; not as a slave anymore, but as a brother in Christ.
This study begins a series which hopes to focus on lessons on Christian fellowship in the paragraphs of the letter. Kindly gather the family around; it’s time to study the Word.
Text: Philemon 1- 7
1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2 also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Amen
i. Why do you think Paul often called himself “a prisoner of Christ Jesus”? How does this inspire you, and unto what?
ii. From verses 1b- 2, what kind of man would you say Philemon was?
iii. Read verse 3 again. What can you say about greetings such as these, the blessings they can invoke, and why they are fading out among believers?
iv. Read verse 4 and 5 again:
a) Why does Paul thank his God as he remembers Philemon in his prayers?
b) Practically, do you think a lot of intercession will be lifted on behalf of believers who demonstrate love for God and His people? Especially from quarters they least expect?
v. Kindly explain verse 6.
vi. In what practical ways can a believer’s love shared among the people of God bring great joy and encouragement to other believers? (Read verse 7)
vii. What does it mean to refresh the hearts of the Lord’s people?
viii. What have you learnt from today’s study?
Kindly reply us through these same social media platforms (WhatsApp & Facebook). We learn a lot from the answers you share.
(www.yonghana.org; Like our Facebook page: Y OUTREACH NETWORK )