Studies in Philemon Part IV: Charge That to My Account -- By: J. Dwight Pentecost

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 130:517 (Jan 1973)
Article: Studies in Philemon Part IV: Charge That to My Account
Author: J. Dwight Pentecost

Studies in Philemon
Part IV:
Charge That to My Account

J. Dwight Pentecost

[J. Dwight Pentecost, Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

The Apostle Paul testified that the Word of God was not bound. The conversion of Onesimus was one of the evidences of the truth of Paul’s affirmation for, while the apostle was confined in Rome, as a prisoner of the Roman Empire, he had been able to bring the gospel to Onesimus, a runaway slave from Colossae, who had come to Rome, evidently to lose himself in the teeming population of that city. Even though Paul might have profited by the ministry of Onesimus, he determined to restore him to the master from whom he had run away, in order that there should be a reunion between these two who were now brothers in Christ. And so the letter to Philemon was penned by the Apostle Paul so that, through the intercession of Paul, this one who was a runaway renegade, but who now has become a brother in Christ, should be restored to his place in the household of Philemon.

In going through this epistle, it has been seen that it illustrates many truths concerning one’s salvation. All, like Onesimus, were under a death sentence. All, like Onesimus, needed someone to intercede for them if they were to be restored, if they were to be brought into the family of God. Paul’s basis for hope in the restoration of Onesimus, first of all, was in the kindly disposition of Philemon. Philemon had manifested love toward God and faithfulness toward the saints many times in the past, and this kindly disposition in Philemon is the basis upon which Paul expects that Onesimus will be restored graciously. In like manner, the death of Jesus Christ made it possible for God to release His tender mercy and His love to all who deserved only death. The cross did not change nor alter God’s disposition, but

the cross did release God’s love and God’s mercy on our behalf, so that one might be brought to Him through the death of His Son.

In the second place, as seen in Philemon 8 and 9, Onesimus will be restored because of the intercession of Paul. He takes the place of a mediator, pleading on behalf of Onesimus. He said, “I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds.” In like manner, one is redeemed, and brought into the circle of God’s love, not because he deserves to be received, but because of the faithful intercession of the One who gave Himself to be his redeemer.

In verses 11 through 16, Paul is c...

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