Philemon 8-11 “Forgive others for we have been forgiven.”


Philemon 8-11 “Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is none other than Paul – an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus – 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.”


Paul was a prisoner in Rome when he wrote this letter to his friend, Philemon who was at the city of Colossae. The reason for this letter was to make an appeal on behalf of a runaway slave called Onesimus. Onesimus was a slave of Philemon in Colossae. One day, Onesimus stole from his master, Philemon, and he ran away and tried to hide in the biggest city at that time which was Rome. But God led Onesimus to meet up with the apostle, Paul. Paul did not waste time in sharing the gospel message about Jesus Christ to Onesimus, and he became a follower of Jesus Christ. Should Onesimus remain in Rome to help Paul since he was a prisoner there? Or should Onesimus surrender and do what was right, now that he was a Christian, and return to Colossae to his master Philemon? If Onesimus returned to Philemon, the law allowed Philemon to execute runaway slaves. Paul chose to send Onesimus back to Colossae with this letter to appeal to Philemon to forgive and to show love to Onesimus.

The basis of Paul’s appeal to Philemon to be merciful to Onesimus is the love of Jesus Christ. Paul pointed out in his letter that Philemon had experienced the love of Christ that is at the heart of the gospel message. Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of man including Philemon’s sins. As a result of believing in what Jesus had done for him on the cross, God, the Father has forgiven Philemon and all believers. Instead of judgment for their sins, they now enjoy God’s love. In the same way, we are like Onesimus. We too have sinned and we need to be forgiven of our sins. The way to forgiveness is to believe that Jesus died for our sins and that He rose again on the third day.

Thus, if Philemon had been forgiven by God, Paul argued that Philemon should also forgive their fellow sinner, Onesimus. A woman found out that her husband was having an affair. She was very hurt and angry with her husband. But she calmed down and realized that just as the Lord had forgiven her sins, she must also forgive her husband his sin of adultery especially since he had confessed to her and asked for her forgiveness. In the end, she forgave him and they are still together as a couple.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and grace for it is new every morning. Just as we have been forgiven, please help us to forgive those who have hurt us. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.



  1. Who and how have you been wronged by others?
  2. Have you forgiven them or are you keeping the hurt inside?
  3. What do you understand about forgiveness?
  4. Read Matthew 5:38-42; Matthew 18:21-22. Mark 11:25. Will you align your understanding about forgiveness to what the Bible says about it?