Having just concluded an in depth study of Acts of the Apostles, our Group Bible Study thought this would be the perfect time to jump into the writings of Paul. Paul wrote many letters to individuals and churches which are included in the New Testament. Over the coming months we will be examining three of these letters: I Thessalonians, Philippians, and Philemon. At our next meeting on Sunday, May 22nd we will start with Philemon.
Philemon was an early Christian living in what is today known as Turkey. He was a wealthy man with many slaves, one of whom escaped with some of Philemon’s fortune. This slave, named Onesimus, made his way to Rome where Paul was under house arrest. Even as a prisoner Paul had a busy ministry where groups would meet with him at his house to hear him preach. Onesimus found his way into one of these gatherings at Paul’s residence, and Paul and Onesimus became fast friends. When Onesimus came clean to Paul that he was the runaway slave of Philemon Paul knew he had to do the right thing and reconcile the two men. This was especially necessary since Paul and Philemon were also close friends.
So Paul writes Philemon a letter and gives it to Onesimus to deliver. In it, Paul makes some pretty revolutionary requests when you consider the social norms of the day. Paul asks Philemon to welcome Onesimus as a Christian brother. This fundamentally changed the slave/master relationship between Onesimus and Philemon. After all, how could a man own his Christian brother? Paul never explicitly asks Philemon to grant Onesimus his freedom, but he undermines the entire construct of slavery with the Divine principle that all men are one. By applying this truth Paul was able to heal the broken relationship between the two men.
We hope you can join us on Sunday, May 22nd as we explore more of the lessons Philemon has to offer! Join us in the Sunday School at 1:00pm, or online:
To join our Bible Study Google hangout, make sure you have a Google+ account, and add Third Church to one of your Google+ circles. Once you have done this, send your name, email, and Google+ account to ThirdChurchOffice@juno.com with the subject line “Bible Study Hangout″ and we’ll send you further instructions on how to join. If you have any issues getting set up, we’re here to help! Call us at (212) 838-1870 or email ThirdChurchOffice@juno.com.
To join Bible Study on the conference phone, use the dial in number and access code below:
Dial in Number: (605) 562-3140
Access Code: 398620