Paul’s Ministry of Reconciliation

The ministry of reconciliation is the Christian work of peacemaking.

This lesson is based on a short, personal letter the apostle Paul wrote to a fellow Christian named Philemon. This letter was not written for doctrinal instruction, and it did not deal with problems in the churches. It was, instead, written as an appeal to a personal friend on behalf of a runaway slave named Onesimus. Apparently, Onesimus had run away from his master, Philemon, and fled to Rome, where he came in contact with Paul. Under Paul‘s influence, Onesimus became a believer in Christ. After some time has passed, Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon with this letter, which asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus and receive him, not as a slave but as a brother in Christ.

GOLDEN TEXT: 2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors (representative, influence) for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled (restored) to God.

…….As Christians, our job is not only to have concern for our on walk with Christ, but to be burdened by others Spiritual life as well. If we are truly walking with the Lord, we will see others as Christ sees them. We will have concern over their hurt and hindrances. Though there may be some who solely play on the emotion and attention from others, there are those who need the time and encouragement that only we can give. We must have a discernment from the Spirit that will show us the need, hurt and root of the problem. One of the greatest ministries of impact is the ministry of reconciliation. When a person can look at another (in the Spirit) and read their mail, it changes things.


A. Paul’s Greeting

Philemon 1:1  Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,

Phm 1:2  And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:

Phm 1:3  Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

…….Paul began this letter reminding Philemon of the grace that has been bestowed on him by God. Sometimes we need a good reminder.

Many of us tend to initially judge others without first bringing to context how much grace it takes on a daily basis to stay in relationship with God.

…….Really take a look at this situation, Philemon was a slave owner. I’d say that’s a pretty serious situation. Did Paul condemn him to hell or throw him out of the church? No!!!! He called him dearly beloved and fellow laborer. We got people being slandered for short hair and makeup while this guy is using means of entrapment on a fellow man!

B. Philemon’s Love and Faith

Phm 1:4  I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,

Phm 1:5  Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;

Phm 1:6  That the communication of thy faith may become effectual (powerful, to have effect) by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

Phm 1:7  For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.

…….Paul started the letter with Love, and then goes right on to all of Philemon’s accomplishments in the Lord.

Paul knew how to talk to people. Why? Because he stayed full of the Spirit.


A. Persuasion, Not Commandment

Phm 1:8  Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin (command) thee that which is convenient (proper),

Phm 1:9  Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech (ask earnestly) thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.

…….This is a proof that Christians aren’t to walk around barking commands and expectations on others.

Being “The” Apostle Paul, a man equipped with much Holy boldness, having all right and opportunity to imply biblical truth, instead approached the circumstance with Love, sincerity and humility.

How many times have we seen a loved one doing wrong and having good reason to do so, command that they repent for their actions?

Our orders and commands of the flesh may never change the heart of man. If we ever want someone to see the truth in a matter we must only use the gospel truth.

Paul used the opportunity of reconciling two loved ones in the bonds of grace and mercy.

B. Interceding for a Sinner Saved

Phm 1:10  I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:

Phm 1:11  Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:

Phm 1:12  Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:

Phm 1:13  Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:

Phm 1:14  But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.

…….I’ve said this before and here it is again. Paul never asked someone to do something out of necessity. And for you, if it is a grudge to do something for the Lord, and it is not out of love, leave it alone. If there are things that should be done as Christian duties and they are a nuisance, pray that the Lord will change your heart about working for Him.

Phm 1:15  For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever;

Phm 1:16  Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?

…….Even though the focus of the letter is a sinner saved by grace, and a slave owner having mercy because of mercy, we must learn from Paul the ministry of persuading those who are in the wrong.


A. Restitution Offering

Phm 1:17  If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.

Phm 1:18  If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;

Phm 1:19  I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.

…….Paul here, though having limited resources while being on house arrest, agreed to pay for Onesimus’ debt. Not only does he agree to pay, but reminds him of how Philemon owes Paul, but Paul would never require it of him. Paul’s suggestion was that the debt owed to him by Philemon exceeded the debt owed to Philemon by Onesimus.

B. Restoration Expected

Phm 1:20  Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.

Phm 1:21  Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.

…….Paul through writing this letter expected he best outcome from Philemon. Any time a Christian is challenged with “the right thing to do”, the right outcome is normally expected. Paul said (vs 20) that he would be refreshed by seeing this take place.

Even the best Christians have their faults and weaknesses, but their devotion to Christ keeps them moving in the right direction and doing the right things. Genuine love for Christ and others is the great motivator for doing what is right in relation to others.

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