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Incoming Home Fellowship Churches Website

The incoming Home Fellowship Churches {HFC} Website is: http://www.homefellowshipchurches.org – with the IRS Employer Identification Number [EIN] Assigned: 85-0711866. HFC is a non-profit organization.

Our mission is to share, teach and/or preach the Words of God especially the Gospel – the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ through the leading, inspiration, and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

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HOME FELLOWSHIP CHURCHES

We are so blessed of the messages of FAITH and HOPE in celebrating the RESURRECTION DAY, the holiest and hopeful day of the year. The message of Home Fellowship Churches is GOD’s LOVE. This God’s agape unconditional love is the main thing we need when adversities come like this pandemic – Chinese/Wuhan/Corona Virus/COVID-19. We believe God has purposes for this pandemic, and everything is under His control.

1 CORINTHIANS 13:13 – Three things will last forever – FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE – and the greatest of these is LOVE.

Paul was showing that LOVE is a spiritual reality of a different kind, like hope and faith, and not to be considered as one of the spiritual gifts. In eternity, the gifts will drop away in significance, but faith, hope, and LOVE will endure.

Faith sometimes refers to a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:9; 13:2) or to saving faith that God has forgiven sins. In this context, it refers to trust in the goodness and mercy of the Lord. Such trust will see Born-Again Christian believers through until they live face-to-face in God’s presence. Born-Again Christian believers also hope; they look forward to the arrival of God’s promised Kingdom in its fullest form, knowing that God will deliver them in times of suffering.

Paul added that the greatest of these is LOVE. How is love “the greatest”? Paul already had established that LOVE would abide forever (1 Corinthians 13:8). LOVE is the greatest because it is one quality of the Born-Again Christian life that will be fully active both in the present and for eternity. Born-Again Christian believers’ faith in God will be realized when they see God face-to-face – for where there is sight, faith is no longer needed. Similarly, the Born-Again Christian believers’ hope will be fully realized. LOVE will endure forever as those in the new heaven and new earth continue to love God and His people.

1 John 3:16 – We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sister.

To understand real love, we as Born-Again Christian believers need only to look at our Lord for the example. We can know what real love is because our Lord Jesus Christ gave up His life for all people. Christ’s example shows believers that real love involves self-sacrifice, which, as 1 John 3:17-19 points out, must result in self-sacrificial actions.

Because Christ is the example, we ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters. We do this by becoming truly concerned about the needs of our Christian brothers and sisters and by unselfishly giving time, effort, prayer, and possessions to supply those needs. Such an attitude would result in actually dying for a brother or sister if this were ever necessary. Again, we as Born-Again Christian believers’ own lives should not be more precious to them than God’s own Son was to Him.

John 3:16 – For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

The entire gospel comes to a focus in this verse. God’s love is not just to a certain group of individuals – it is offered to the world. God’s love is not static or self-centered; it reaches out and draws others in. Here God’s actions defined the pattern of true love, the basis for all love relationships – when we love someone, we are willing to sacrifice dearly for that person. Sacrificial love is also practical in seeking ways to meet the needs of those who are loved. In God’s case, that love was infinitely practical, since it set out to rescue those who had no hope of rescuing themselves. God paid dearly to save us; He gave His only Son, the highest price He could pay.
This offer is made to everyone who believes. To “believe” is more than intellectual agreement that Jesus Christ is God. It means putting our trust and confidence in Him that He alone can save us. It is to put our Lord Jesus Christ in charge of our present plans and eternal destiny. Believing is both trusting His words as reliable and relying on Him for the power to change.

Our Lord Jesus Christ accepted our punishment and paid the price for our sins so that we would not perish. Perish does not mean physical death, for we all will eventually die. Here it refers to eternity apart from God. Those who believe will receive the alternative, the new life that our Lord Jesus Christ bought for us – eternal life with God. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord Jesus Christ, and to God be the glory. We hope and pray that whoever you are, come as you are, believe in Jesus Christ. that you will be saved and your household, and have an eternal life. Rejoice, our Lord Jesus Christ has risen and He is alive. God bless you all.

HAPPY RESURRECTION DAY

COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 2

Freedom from Rules and New Life in Christ
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. 7 Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with Him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
1
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
1
6 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ Himself is that reality.

The resurrection establishes our Lord Jesus Christ’s Kingdom and destroys satan’s kingdom including this pandemic – Corona/Wuhan/Chinese/COVID-19 virus. Let’s continue to pray, expect and receive miracles by faith. Amen!

Therefore, Brothers and Sisters-In-Christ, let’s celebrate this holiest holiday of the year – “RESURRECTION DAY”! [Note: Let’s follow the Federal, State and Local Guidelines.]

HOLY EASTER SATURDAY

I remember when I was younger, (Catholic tradition) Easter Fridays and Saturdays were the saddest days because they told us God is dead and we need to be sad, no laughing, even smiling, or jokes, no meat, etc. But now, I knew the Truth. GOD is not dead! HE is risen! HE is alive in my heart! We’ll just remember his death, and tomorrow, Sunday, the “RESURRECTION DAY”, a day must be remembered, and looking forward to that “GLORIOUS DAY”! HALLELUJAH!

“And we receive from Him (in Jesus name) whatever we ask, because we [watchfully] obey His orders [observe His suggestions and injunctions, follow His plan for us] and [habitually] practice what is pleasing to Him.” 1 John 3:22 AMPC https://bible.com/bible/8/1jn.3.22.AMPC 

Because of our obedience to GOD, it releases the answers to our prayers. Amen! Of course, the main thing when we trust and have faith in GOD, the HOLY SPIRIT always there to help us and obey GOD.

Easter Holy Friday

[4/10, 10:39] Elias A Busuego:

“So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear] at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you.”

“For this reason [seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ], I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named [that Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name].”

“May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].”

“May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it];”

” [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!”
Ephesians 3:13‭-‬19 AMPC
https://bible.com/bible/8/eph.3.13-19.AMPC


[4/10, 10:41] Elias A Busuego: HAPPY EASTER HOLY FRIDAY!
Our Lord GOD JESUS CHRIST’s unlimited and unconditional love fills us with GOD’S unlimited power through GOD, the HOLY SPIRIT!

Two (2) Confessions

1 JOHN 1:9 (NLT) – First (1st) Confession is about true forgiveness and cleansing from God.

9 But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that His word has no place in our hearts.

Being God’s people does not mean denying sin (1 John 1:8), but confessing it. Because all people are sinners, our Lord Jesus Christ had to die. Because sin is not completely eradicated from the lives of those who believe in Jesus Christ, God graciously gave his followers provision for the problem of sin. John explained it here in a nutshell: If we confess . . . he is faithful and just to forgive.
To confess our sins means to agree with God that an act or thought was wrong, to acknowledge this to God, to seek forgiveness, and to make a commitment to not let it happen again. Confession of sins is necessary for maintaining continual fellowship with God, which in turn will enable people to have good fellowship with members of the church community.

Confession is supposed to free people to enjoy fellowship with Lord Jesus Christ. But some Christians do not understand how it works. They feel so guilty that they confess the same sins over and over; then they wonder if they might have forgotten something. Other Christians believe that God forgives them when they confess, but if they died with unconfessed sins, they would be forever lost. These Christians do not understand that God wants to forgive people. He allowed His beloved Son (God Himself became flesh – John 1:1-12) to die just so He could offer them pardon. When people come to Lord Jesus Christ, He forgives all the sins they have committed or will ever commit. They don’t need to confess the sins of the past all over again, and they don’t need to fear that God will reject them if they don’t keep their slate perfectly clean. Of course, Born-Again Christian believers should continue to confess their sins, but not because failure to do so will make them lose their salvation. Born-Again believers’ relationship with Lord Jesus Christ is secure. Instead, they should confess so that they can enjoy maximum fellowship and joy with Him.

That God is faithful means He is dependable and keeps His promises. God promises forgiveness, even in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 31:34; Micah 7:19-20). God wants to forgive His people; He wants to maintain close fellowship with them. But this can only happen when the way to Him is cleared of sin’s debris – and that can only happen through confession.
That God is just means that He could not overlook people’s sin. He could not decide to let people get away with sin or to make the penalty less severe. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Sacrifices had been offered for sin, and blood had been spilt from the beginning. This could not change because God does not change. Justice would have to be done in order to decisively deal with sin. But instead of making people pay for their sins, God took the punishment upon Himself through His Son. In this way, justice was done, and the way was paved for God to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. Those who confess their sins to God can trust in His forgiveness because they can trust in His character.

James 5:16 NLT – Second (2nd) Confession is about healings and prayers.

16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

It is not God’s plan that His people be alone. Members of Lord Jesus Christ’s body should be able to count on others for support and prayer, especially when they are sick or suffering. The elders should be on call to respond to the illness of any member, and the church should stay alert to pray for the healing of any who are sick. But we are often not only guilty of hesitating to lean on each other in our sicknesses and weaknesses. We are even more liable not to confess our sins to each other.

The recent emphasis on small groups within churches has risen largely from a need to recapture some of these basic features of life in the body of our Lord Jesus Christ that have been neglected. When Christians are really working to “share each other’s troubles and problems,” the world does take note, and we come closer to fulfilling “the law of Christ” (see Galatians 6:2). Loving your neighbor as yourself does include, above all else, praying for him or her.
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results because the person who is praying is righteous. The person is not sinless, but he or she has confessed known sins to God and is completely committed to Him and trying to do His will. Again, we can say that the righteous people get what they want in prayer because they want what God wants.

The Christian’s most powerful resource is communication with God through prayer. It is the instrument of healing and forgiveness and is a mighty weapon for spiritual warfare. The results are often greater than we thought were possible. Some people see prayer as a last resort, to be tried when all else fails. Our priorities are the reverse of God’s. Prayer should come first. God is pleased to use our prayers to accomplish His purposes and He delights in answering our needs, but He is never bound by our prayers. God’s power is infinitely greater than ours, so it only makes sense to rely on it—especially because God encourages us to do so.

Daily Devotionals

GOODNESS – CARING HOW GOD FEELS ABOUT OUR MORALITY IS GOODNESS

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,patience, kindness, GOODNESS, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things, there is no law. Galatians 5:22 (ESV)

Genesis 39:1-10 (NIV)                                                                    Monday  

 Joseph in Potiphar’s House
1 When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.
2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. 4 This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. 5 From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished. 6 So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat!
Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, 7 and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded.
8 But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. 9 No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.”10 She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible.

 

            Genesis 39:6 makes the statement that Joseph was “well-built and handsome.” But Joseph’s spirituality was even more rugged than his physique, and so when Potiphar’s wife seeks to lure him into a sexual entanglement, Joseph answers her out of a sense of his own moral goodness. “My master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care … How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

            Goodness is that fruit of the Holy Spirit that does not hesitate to label all immorality for what it is – sin. Goodness never allows categories of sin and righteousness to become fuzzy by using more acceptable definitions of sin like goof-ups, no-no’s, or indiscretions.1Joseph knew immorality for what it was and was not willing to widen his definitions of sin to the point that he could call any kind of evil good. Goodness is the art of measuring ethical values with ethical norms. Goodness never excuses immorality by seeing it in some new and broader way.

            So in the character of Joseph we see a man whose goodness rises higher than those around him. Some scholars think of Joseph as the Jesus of the Old Testament. He was not perfect, as Christ was and He is, for Joseph was a mere man. But sinful people can live a righteous life, and Joseph was very much like Jesus in that he sought the pleasure of God with a life that never confused the categories of good and evil.

BLESSED WITH SUFFICIENCY

Daily Devotional – 02/06/2018

Ephesians 1:3-8 NLT ”3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”

In Ephesians 1:3, Paul first praised God, saying that all believers praise God. God alone is worthy of praise and worship. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because we as Born-Again Christian believers belong to Christ, God has blessed us. The verb “blessed” occurs hundreds of times in the Old Testament, revealing that God enjoys blessing His people. Here Paul used the past tense (“has blessed”), indicating that this prospering of believers had already occurred – even from eternity past. God has blessed us by allowing us to receive the benefits of our Lord Jesus Christ’s redemption (Ephesians 1:7) and resurrection (Ephesians 1:19-20). God blessed us through our Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross on our behalf.

Because by faith we belong to our Lord Jesus Christ, we have every spiritual blessing – that is, every benefit of knowing God and everything we need to grow spiritually. These are spiritual blessings, not material ones. Because God has already blessed us as Born-Again Christian believers, we need not ask for these blessings but simply accept them and apply them to our lives. Because we have an intimate relationship with Christ, we can enjoy these blessings now and will enjoy them for eternity.

The phrase heavenly realms occurs five times in this letter (Ephesians 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12) and refers to the sphere beyond the material world – the place of spiritual activity where the ultimate conflict between good and evil takes place. This conflict continues but has already been won by our Lord Christ’s death and resurrection. This is the realm in which the spiritual blessings were secured for us and then given to us. Our blessings come from heaven, where our Lord Jesus Christ now lives (Ephesians 1:20), and our Lord Jesus Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit, the source of all spiritual blessings, came as a result of His ascension to heaven (Ephesians 4:8). Paul was making the point that these blessings are spiritual and not material; thus, they are eternal and not temporal.
That God chose us forms the basis of the doctrine of election – defined as God’s choice of an individual or group for a specific purpose or destiny. The doctrine of election teaches that we are saved only because of God’s grace and mercy; as Born-Again Christian believers we are not saved by our own merit. It focuses on God’s purpose or will (Ephesians 1:5, 9, 11), not on ours. God does not save us because we deserve it but because He graciously and freely gives salvation. We did not influence God’s decision to save us; He saved us according to His plan. Thus, we may not take credit for our salvation or take pride in our wise choice.

The doctrine of election runs through the Bible, beginning with God’s choosing Abraham’s descendants as His special people. Although the Jews were chosen as special recipients and emissaries of God’s grace, their opportunity to participate in that plan arrived with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, their promised Messiah. But many didn’t recognize our Lord Jesus Christ and so rejected Him. God’s “chosen” and elected people are now Christians, the body of Christ, the church – all who believe on, accept, and receive Jesus Christ as Messiah, Savior, and Lord. Jesus himself called his followers “the chosen ones” (see Matthew 24:22, 24, 31; Mark 13:20, 22, 27).

God chose His people before He made the world. The mystery of salvation originated in the timeless mind of God (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 1:9). Before God created anything, His plan was in place to give eternal salvation to those who would believe on His Son. Before God created people, He knew sin would occur, He knew a penalty would have to be paid, and He knew that He Himself (in His Son) would pay it.
Election is in our Lord Jesus Christ because of His sacrifice on our behalf. We have blessings and election only because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. Election is done for a specific purpose – that we would be holy and without fault in His eyes. What God began in eternity past will be completed in eternity future. God’s purpose in choosing us was that we would live changed lives during our remaining time on earth. To be “holy” means to be set apart for God in order to reflect His nature. God chose us, and when we belong to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ, God looks at us as though we had never sinned. Our appropriate responses are love, worship, and service – in thankfulness for His wonderful grace. We must never take our privileged status as a license for sin.

In His infinite love, God chose to adopt us as His own children. People were created to have fellowship with God (Genesis 1:26), but because of our sin, we forfeited that fellowship. Through our Lord Jesus’ sacrifice, God brought us back into His family and made us heirs along with our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17). God did not do this as an emergency measure after sin engulfed creation; instead, this has been His unchanging plan from the beginning. Under Roman law, adopted children had the same rights and privileges as biological children. Even if they had been slaves, adopted children became full heirs in their new family. Paul used this term to show the strength and permanence of believers’ relationship to God. This adoption occurs through our Lord Jesus Christ, for only His sacrifice on our behalf enables us to receive what God intended for us.

God’s goal in the election of us as Born-Again Christian believers was that we would praise Him. Therefore, the ultimate purpose of believers’ lives is to praise God because of His wonderful kindness. Without it, we would have no hope, and our lives would be nothing more than a few years on earth. Instead, we have purpose for living and hope of eternal life. His kindness was poured out on us. It was a free gift, not something we could earn or deserve. God’s favor to us is realized by our union with His dearly loved Son. We could say that God’s love for His only Son motivated Him to have many more sons – each of whom would be like His Son (Romans 8:28-30) by being in His Son and by being conformed to His image.

All people are enslaved to sin, but God, so rich in kindness, purchased our freedom through the blood of His Son. Our Lord Jesus Christ paid the price to redeem us, to buy our freedom from sin. The purchase price was His blood. To speak of our Lord Jesus’ blood was an important first-century way of speaking of Jesus Christ’s death. Our freedom was costly – our Lord Jesus Christ paid the price with His life. Through His death, our Lord Jesus Christ released us from slavery and our sins are forgiven. When we believe, an exchange takes place. We give our Lord Jesus Christ our sins, and He gives us freedom and forgiveness. Our sin was poured into Christ at his crucifixion. His righteousness was poured into us at our conversion. God’s forgiveness means that he no longer even remembers believers’ past sins. We are completely forgiven. Jesus became the final and ultimate sacrifice for sin. Instead of an unblemished lamb slain on the altar, the perfect Lamb of God was slain on the cross, a sinless sacrifice so that our sins could be forgiven once and for all.

God’s kindness is showered on Born-Again Christian believers. When God gives, He gives abundantly and extravagantly. In the phrase with all wisdom and understanding, the word “wisdom” is the ability to see life from God’s perspective. Proverbs 9:10 teaches that the fear (respect and honor) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The word “understanding” could also be translated “insight,” referring to the ability to discern the right action to take in any given situation. Wisdom and understanding are given to us for us to know God’s will.

In the Holy Spirit’s presence, we can develop an intimate relationship.

Let’s pray.

“Father God, in the name of Jesus, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, thank You for never leaving or forsaking us. Guide us along Your prefect path, Amen!”

Praise our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you Lord.

Spirit of Forgiveness

PHILEMON Chapter 1 (Only 1 Chapter)

Verse 1

Although neither Paul nor Timothy had visited the church in Colosse, they had, during their earlier travels, met individual Colossians such as Epaphras, Philemon, Archippus, and Apphia who, after their conversion, had returned with the Gospel to their native city. So Philemon was a friend and fellow believer. But this letter does not present doctrine or give commands; instead, it is a request on behalf of another believer. Paul chose to introduce himself in this letter as being in prison for preaching the Good News about our Lord Christ Jesus. This is the only one of Paul’s letters where he used such an introduction.

Timothy visited Paul frequently during his imprisonment (see also Colossians 1:1) and was with Paul in Rome when he wrote this letter. Timothy was not imprisoned with Paul, but he had stayed in Rome to encourage Paul and to help with ministry needs. Although mentioned in the salutation, Timothy is not considered a coauthor. Paul wrote in the first person throughout this letter (the same is true for the letter to the Philippians).

Philemon was a wealthy Greek landowner living in Colosse. He had been converted under Paul’s ministry (1:19), perhaps in Ephesus or some other city where he had met and talked with Paul. During Paul’s years of ministry in nearby Ephesus, Philemon had been building up the Colossian church, which would meet in his home (1:2). Thus Paul considered him a much loved coworker. Like most wealthy landowners of ancient times, Philemon owned slaves. Onesimus, the subject of this letter, was one of those slaves.

Verse 2

Apphia probably was Philemon’s wife or another close relative who helped manage his household; otherwise, she would not have been greeted with Philemon in a letter concerning a domestic matter. At this time, women handled the day-to-day responsibilities of the slaves. Thus, the final decision about Onesimus would have been as much her choice as Philemon’s. Paul greeted Apphia as our sister, that is, a sister in the Christian faith. Archippus may have been Philemon’s son, or perhaps an elder in the Colossian church (at the end of the letter to the Colossians, Paul had given special encouragement to a man named Archippus; see Colossians 4:17). In either case, Paul included him as a recipient of the letter, possibly so that Archippus would read the letter with Philemon and encourage him to take Paul’s advice.

The early churches always met in people’s homes. Because of sporadic persecutions and the great expense involved, church buildings were not constructed at this time (church buildings were not built until the third century). Many congregations were small enough that the entire church could meet in one home. Because Philemon was one of those who had worked to begin the church at Colosse, it was natural that believers would meet in his house. The church could refer to the entire body of believers, although it seems unlikely because Paul had been writing a letter to the entire Colossian church at this same time. It may have been that, as in any large city even today, smaller groups of believers met regularly in various private homes. One group met in Philemon’s home; some met in other believers’ homes, such as Nympha’s. Paul had greeted Nympha and the church in her house in Colossians 4:15. (For references to other house churches, see Romans 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 16:19-20.)

Because of the personal nature of this letter, Paul apparently chose not to include his instructions to Philemon in his general letter to the Colossians. Paul greeted the believers who met in Philemon’s home because Paul knew that not only would this group know about the runaway slave, but they would also become Onesimus’s “family” upon his return as a new believer. The church would need to understand Paul’s request and Philemon’s response to it. Then there would be no gossip, and they could immediately and lovingly accept Onesimus into their fellowship.

Verse 3

Paul used grace and peace as a standard greeting in all his letters. “Grace” is God’s undeserved favor—His loving-kindness shown to sinners whereby He saves them and gives them strength to live for Him; “peace” refers to the peace that Christ made between sinners and God through His death on the cross. Peace refers to that inner assurance and tranquility that God places in a person, producing confidence and contentment in Christ. Only God can grant such wonderful gifts.

The phrase God our Father focuses on the family relationship among all believers as God’s children. In the context of this letter, Paul was emphasizing the family relationship that the master, Philemon, and the slave, Onesimus, had because both were believers. By using the phrase, Lord Jesus Christ, Paul was pointing to our Lord Jesus Christ as a full person of the Godhead and was recognizing Lord Jesus’ full deity. God the Father and Christ the Lord are coequal in providing grace and peace.

Verses 4-5

Philemon had been converted under Paul’s ministry and then had returned to Colosse. Although Paul had never visited Colosse, he had heard (perhaps from Onesimus or Epaphras) about Philemon’s continued trust in the Lord Jesus and love for all of God’s people. Paul was saying that if Philemon truly loved all the believers, then he certainly would be willing to include another believer—Onesimus—in that love.

Verse 6

This verse describes Paul’s prayer and introduces the request that Paul will make to Philemon in this letter. The word you is singular (as in 1:4)—this was what Paul prayed for Philemon himself. The Greek word koinonia is rendered in these verses as generous. Koinonia is a difficult word to translate, but it incorporates the true outworking of Christian love in the body of Christ. The word focused on Philemon’s relationship with other Christians. Paul prayed that Philemon’s faith would show itself in koinonia among the believers. Paul prayed that Philemon would put his generosity to work. Paul will soon ask Philemon to welcome Onesimus as if he were Paul, and that Philemon should charge any of Onesimus’s debts to Paul (1:17-19). This is true koinonia, Christians giving to one another and caring for one another because they belong to one another.

Verse 7

The love that Philemon showed to all the believers (1:5) had also given Paul much joy and comfort. Philemon probably had acted out his faith among the believers in many ways beyond sharing his home for church meetings. But Paul was concerned less about Philemon’s actions than about the spirit in which he was performing them. Paul hoped that Philemon’s loving spirit—which had given others joy, encouragement, and refreshment—would also show itself in his dealings with Onesimus.

Verses 8-9

Carrying on the thought from verse 7—the love Philemon had shown to the believer and to Paul ought to be extended to include another. This was indeed boldly asking a favor—in the Roman Empire, a master had the right to kill a disobedient slave. In any other situation, Onesimus’s action of running away would have signed his death warrant. But Onesimus had met Paul, and Paul knew Philemon, so Paul mediated because of their common brotherhood in Christ.

Paul first described his right to make this appeal to Philemon. Paul was Philemon’s friend and spiritual father (1:19), but Paul was also an elder and an apostle with authority in the name of Christ. Paul was subtly reminding Philemon of his authority. Paul could have demanded how Philemon should act because it was the right thing to do, but Paul based his request not on his own authority, but on his friendship with Philemon and Philemon’s Christian commitment. Paul wanted Philemon’s heartfelt, not grudging, obedience, so he preferred just to ask the favor of Philemon.

Verse 10

In the Greek text, Onesimus’s name is the last word in this verse, exhibiting Paul’s skillful crafting of this letter. After the introduction and sincere compliments to Philemon, he began to state his appeal. He gave Onesimus’s name at the last possible moment, not broaching the actual appeal until verse 17. Paul approached Philemon with tact and humility.

Philemon probably had been angered that his slave had disappeared (in Roman times, it was like losing a piece of valuable property). Thus, Paul first explained that his appeal was on behalf of someone who had become his son during Paul’s imprisonment—that is, someone Paul had led to Christ from prison. Philemon would be dealing with a fellow believer.

Verse 11

Onesimus’s name in Greek means “useful.” The name was a common name for slaves and is found in many ancient inscriptions. A nameless slave might be given this name with the hope that he would live up to it in serving his master.

Paul used a play on words, saying that Onesimus had formerly had not been of much use to Philemon in the past, but had become very useful both to Paul and, potentially, to Philemon. Under Philemon’s service, Onesimus had failed to live up to his name. Paul was confident, however, that this new man with his new life in Christ would live up to his name if Philemon would take him back. In Colossians 4:9, Paul called Onesimus a “faithful and much loved brother.” Onesimus had become known for his faithfulness.

Verses 12-13

Although Paul would have liked to keep Onesimus with him, he was sending Onesimus back to Philemon along with Paul’s own heart. Paul asked that Philemon accept Onesimus not only as a forgiven runaway servant, but also as a brother in Christ. This verse suggests that Onesimus himself would deliver this letter to Philemon, so Philemon would need to make his decision as he stood face-to-face with his slave.

Paul was willing to give away his very heart, a part of himself, in order to return Onesimus permanently to Philemon. Onesimus had become part of Paul’s ministry team. This was a sacrifice on Paul’s part, for Onesimus apparently could have helped Paul on Philemon’s behalf. Paul knew that if Philemon were available to be with Paul, he would have helped him in any way he could; therefore, if Paul had kept Onesimus, Philemon would have been helping Paul vicariously. Paul implied that he trusted Onesimus so much that Onesimus’s service could be considered in place of Philemon’s; therefore, Philemon should be able to trust him as well. Paul, imprisoned for preaching the Good News, longed for his friends; how difficult it was for him to send away this man. Yet Paul knew it was his duty to do so—Roman law demanded that a deserting slave be returned to his legal owner (although Deuteronomy 23:15-16 states the opposite). Because Onesimus belonged to Philemon, Paul chose to send him back.

Verse 14

Paul would have liked to have kept Onesimus with him (1:13). However, he decided not to try to talk Philemon into allowing Onesimus to return to Rome to serve Paul; Paul might have felt that this was taking undue advantage of his relationship with Philemon. Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon, preferring that Philemon make the final decision in the matter. The help probably did not refer to allowing Onesimus to return to Paul, but that Philemon would pardon his slave from severe punishment since Onesimus had become a new person in Christ. Philemon had to think of Onesimus not as a piece of property, but as a brother in the fellowship.

Verse 15

Paul considered that all that had happened—Onesimus’s desertion and subsequent conversion to Christ—had been part of God’s providence. God can overrule and bring good out of human sin and folly. Onesimus had caused trouble and heartache, but he had become a new person, and Philemon would soon have him back. The little while of Onesimus’s absence would be overshadowed by the devotion that would bind him to his master forever. They would be together for eternity, but Paul also wanted Philemon to take Onesimus back into his service permanently now.

Verse 16

For Philemon to accept Onesimus back, he would have to do so with the understanding that Onesimus had a new status—he was a person (that is, not merely a slave), and he was also a beloved brother. Paul knew how difficult it might be for Philemon to deal with Onesimus as a “brother” after the trouble he had caused. Paul made it clear that he not only trusted Onesimus (1:13) but that he considered Onesimus a brother in Christ. With these words, Paul deftly placed himself, Philemon, and Onesimus all at the same level. While this prisoner, landowner, and slave had very different social positions, they were equals in Christ. While Onesimus had become very dear to Paul, he would mean much more to Philemon because Onesimus’s former relationship with Philemon had laid the groundwork for a lasting relationship between them.

Verse 17

In this verse Paul stated his request: give him the same welcome you would give me. Like the father of the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable (Luke 15:11-32), Philemon should open his arms to welcome Onesimus back to his household and, as a new believer, to the church. God had welcomed Onesimus; so should Philemon. The word partner is koinonon from the word koinonia, translated as generosity. Philemon and Paul shared the koinonia described in verse 6. Paul wanted Philemon’s attitude toward Onesimus to be based on his attitude toward Paul.

Verse 18

Onesimus may have confessed some such act to Paul. The only way Onesimus could have financed his flight was to have stolen from his master money or possessions that he could sell. Even if not, he still would be in debt for the work that had not been performed in his absence. This would cause Onesimus to be extremely afraid to return to his master. It was bad enough that he had run away, but if he had also stolen money or possessions or had harmed his master in any other way, he would be in deep trouble. Thus Paul’s letter served as a buffer—giving Onesimus courage to return and giving Philemon the entire picture so that he might deal kindly with his slave.

Any money or possessions that Onesimus had taken certainly were long gone. Onesimus had no means to repay. Paul asked that any money stolen be charged to his own account; in other words, Onesimus no longer would owe Philemon anything, but Paul would. Paul was not suggesting to Philemon that he simply forgive Onesimus’s debt; the wrong needed to be righted. Instead, Paul took on that debt on Onesimus’s behalf. Onesimus would never know whether the debt was actually demanded and repaid. All he knew was that a debt needed to be paid because of his wrong actions—but that someone else was going to pay it for him. Onesimus got a dose of true Christian love through Paul’s action.

Verse 19

Often, Paul would use a secretary to write his letters as he dictated them (see Romans 16:22). But sometimes at the end of the letters, he would take the pen and write a few words in his own handwriting to authenticate the letters (see, for example, Galatians 6:11; Colossians 4:18). For Paul to write the words I will repay it emphasized that he was placing himself under legal obligation to do so. Paul was not “just saying” this to placate Philemon; he meant to do so by putting it in writing. If Philemon had demanded repayment, Paul would have had to do it. But it seems that Paul knew his friend well enough to know that he would not demand repayment. While Paul told Philemon to put Onesimus’s charge on Paul’s “page” in the accounting book, Paul also reminded Philemon that he (Paul) had a huge credit already, in that Philemon owed his very soul (his conversion and eternal security) to Paul. Once Onesimus’s debt was put on Paul’s page, it would be canceled. As Philemon’s spiritual father, Paul was hoping that Philemon would feel a debt of gratitude that would cause him to accept Onesimus with a spirit of forgiveness.

Verse 20

In the matters of ledgers and debts, once Onesimus’s debt was repaid, Paul would still have a credit, for who can ever repay someone for bringing him or her to eternal life? Thus Paul asked that the balance be paid in kindness to Onesimus as a favor to Paul. Onesimus had been useful to Paul (1:11); Paul hoped that Philemon would find the same. And as Philemon had refreshed the hearts of the saints (1:7), he could hardly do other than refresh Paul’s heart as well.

Verse 21

Paul was not only confident that Philemon would welcome Onesimus back, but that Philemon would also do even more than Paul asked. This may have been a hint that Philemon would willingly free Onesimus so that he could return to Paul or be freed when Paul got to Colosse. We can be sure that Philemon welcomed Onesimus, but the “even more” is left unknown.

Verse 22

That Paul would ask Philemon to keep a guest room ready in his home indicates that Paul expected to be released (see also Philippians 2:23-24). Some feel that this was Paul’s way of reminding Philemon of his apostolic authority. Or it may have been a tongue-in-cheek way of securing a kindly reception for Onesimus because Paul hoped to eventually arrive to check up on what had occurred. It is more likely that Paul was simply hoping to eventually visit these friends who had been praying for him.

His freedom would be secured through these prayers. The words your and you are plural, focusing on Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, and the church in Philemon’s house. Paul had never been to Colosse; the word return in Greek simply means “granted” or “given as a gift” (the root of the word is charis, “grace”). For Philemon and the church in his home to have their prayers answered with a visit from Paul would indeed be a gift of grace. Paul was released from prison soon after writing this letter, but the Bible doesn’t say whether he went to Colosse.

Verse 23

The you in this verse is singular. These are personal greetings to Philemon. Epaphras was well known to the Colossians because he had founded the church there (Colossians 1:7), perhaps while Paul was living in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). Epaphras may have been converted in Ephesus and then had returned to Colosse, his hometown. He was a hero to this church, helping to hold it together in spite of growing persecution and struggles with false doctrine. His report to Paul about the problems in Colosse had prompted Paul to write his letter to the Colossians. Epaphras’s greetings to and prayers for the Colossian Christians reveal his deep love for them (Colossians 4:12-13).

It is unclear whether Epaphras was actually in prison with Paul. Paul’s words fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus may have been a metaphor of warfare or “captivity to Christ.” It is more likely that Epaphras was with Paul voluntarily and would return to Colosse.

Verse 24

Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke are also mentioned in Colossians 4:10, 14. Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 12:25ff.) and eventually wrote the Gospel of Mark. Luke had accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey and was the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. Demas had been faithful to Paul for a while but then had deserted him (see 2 Timothy 4:10). Paul had sent greetings from these same people in the letter to the Colossians. But in that letter, a man “Jesus who is called Justus” also had sent greetings to Colosse. Much speculation has been done as to why his greetings were not included here, but it may simply have been that he was absent on the day Paul wrote this letter to Philemon.

Verse 25

The word your is plural, indicating that Paul sent this final blessing not to Philemon only, but to the entire church that regularly met in his home (1:2). As Paul had begun his letter with grace (1:3), so he ended it with the benediction that the believers would continue to experience God’s unmerited favor. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with Christians’ spirits because the Spirit of Jesus Christ indwells the spirits (the inner selves) of believers (see Romans 8:9-11).

We Are Forgiven

Romans 3:23-24 NLT
“23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.”

Paul has made it clear thus far in his letter that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles when it comes to final judgment – all have sinned. If the law measures the distance between God and His creatures, then human righteousness is our attempt to bridge that distance by our own efforts. Paul is correct – we all fall short. But what is this glorious standard that we do not reach on our own? The word glory (doxes), from which we derive the word doxology, refers to the wonderful and awe-inspiring but indescribable presence of God Himself. Sin keeps us from the presence of God.

Sinning confirms our status as sinners, and sin cuts us off from our holy God. Furthermore, sin leads to death (because it disqualifies us from living with God), regardless of how great or small each sin may seem. Sins are deadly, but sinners can be forgiven. There are no distinctions: we have all sinned; we all need a Savior; Jesus Christ is the Savior; through faith we can receive His salvation.

Just as there is no distinction in our fallenness, Paul writes, so there is no distinction in the source of our justification. God justifies us; He declares us not guilty for our sins. When a judge in a court of law declares the defendant “not guilty,” all the charges are removed from the person’s record. Legally, it is as if the person had never been accused. When God forgives our sins, our record is wiped clean. From His perspective, it is as though we had never sinned. We do not have to anxiously work while hoping that in the end we will have been good enough to meet God’s approval. Instead, those who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross are freed – Christ Jesus has taken away our sins. Our righteousness before God depends entirely on Him and can only be accepted as a gift from Him. God in His gracious kindness assures us of our acceptance and then calls us to serve Him as best we can out of pure love for Him.

In the Holy Spirit’s presence, we accept God’s gift of forgiveness.

Let’s pray.
“Father God, in the name of Jesus, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, through Your death and resurrection You’ve washed our souls, removed the stain of sin, and brought indescribable joy to our hearts! Thank you! Amen!”
Praise our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you Lord.

 

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