Group Resources November 1, 2015

This week: Paul’s Postcard to Philemon

This week you have the opportunity to take a peek into the personal life of one of the founding fathers of Christianity, the apostle Paul. We will look at relationships in his life and how he handled difficult problems in those relationships. We will see his heart, his faith, and his Christianity in action. And in the process we will also learn truth for our relationships.

This Week’s Resources:

The Compass Bible Study(pdf) Lighthouse Discussion Guide (pdf) Lighthouse Leader Study Guide (pdf) Word Search Answer Key (pdf)

This Week’s Take Home Truth

Like Onesimus, we stand guilty of crimes before God. Typically, we run away, seeking freedom in all the wrong places, unable to contend with our past or find true freedom in the present. Yet through Christ we can find true release from slavery to sin and imprisonment to our past. As we confess our inability to save ourselves and seek the forgiveness of God, we receive the joyous liberty of reconciliation. “We are all God’s Onesimuses” – Martin Luther


  1. Can you share an example of a time when you had to ask someone to do a difficult task for you as a favor?

  2. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a disagreement between two friends? How could you help resolve a delicate situation like this?

  3. Do you find it difficult to trust God when you are in the midst of a conflict? Why?

Read the Text (Philemon)

The book we call Philemon is actually a personal letter. Usually letters in the New Testament were addressed to specific churches or to the church in general, but this is a personal letter from the apostle Paul to a friend. It may be one of the most unique documents in the Bible. This letter is only 25 verses long and fewer than 500 words in English, yet it is a masterpiece of letter writing. Read Philemon.

Greeting 1 Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:    3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Philemon’s Love and Faith 4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. 7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Paul’s Plea for Onesimus 8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command to do what is required, 9 yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother— especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you. Final Greetings 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Digging Deeper

  1. What was the relationship between Onesimus and Philemon?

  2. Why was it important to Paul that Onesimus return to Philemon?

  3. What risks did Onesimus take by going back to Philemon?

  4. If Paul were writing today, what would he challenge us as believers to do? What does “one in Christ” mean for the systems we participate in from day to day?

  5. How should someone else’s new commitment to Christ change our relationship with him or her?

  6. What do you think was Philemon’s response when Onesimus returned to him? Why?

Concluding Thoughts

  1. Consider the lessons w e learn from this simple, short letter from the Apostle Paul to Philemon.
  • It shows that in Christ there is always room for reconciliation and a second chance for people.
  • It illustrates how God works behind the scenes to bring people to faith and restore relationships.
  • It shows the power of the gospel to work at a distance and effect change from city to city, coast to coast, and continent to continent.
  • It shows the value of mentoring relationships, the way that older, seasoned believers can help younger followers of Christ work out problems and conflicts.
  • It shows a measure of irony behind God’s patience and providence: He had to send Onesimus thousands of miles away from his Christian master in order to bring him to faith!
  • It shows that in Christ, people can change. Consider the many stages that Onesimus went through: from slave, to thief and runaway, to refugee, to convert, to penitent, to brother, and possibly to bishop.6
  1. As you examine your heart, are there people you need to forgive, regardless of the wrong they have done to you? What steps could you take today, in Christ, toward forgiveness and healing?

Lighthouse Calendar

  • Nov. 1 – “Paul’s Postcard to Philemon”
  • Nov. 8 — Church-wide Fireside Chat, 5:00 p.m.
  • Nov. 15 — Lighthouse Leader Meeting, 10:00 a.m.
  • Nov. 15 — “Truth Walkers #1” (2 John)
  • Nov. 22 — Autumn Night of Worship/Thanksgiving
  • Nov. 29 — “Contending for the Faith” (Jude)
  • Dec. 6 — To Fulfill: Christmas Scene 1
  • Dec. 13 — To Fulfill: Christmas Scene 2
  • Dec. 20 — Begin Christmas Break
  • Dec. 27 — Christmas Break
  • Jan. 3 — Christmas Break
  • Jan. 10 — Lighthouse Spring Semester Begins

Lighthouse Leader Resources: