Over the course of going through Philemon, there are a number of topics that the epistle touches on, even if just briefly. However, because the epistle is short, it does not delve deeply into very many topics. However, there are still points to be drawn out for our application in our Christian walk.
The first is the mention of prayer. Paul writes in verse 5 that he is praying for the believers there. Likewise, in verse 22, Paul requests prayer for himself. If we compare this with other Pauline epistles, it becomes clear that Paul is a man of prayer. He often opens up the letters noting that he is praying for others. He also recognizes the importance of others prayer in his ministry and for himself, therefore he requests others pray for him. This is seen her, as well as places such as 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, Colossians 4:3-4, and Philippians 1:19-21).
A second aspect that we see in this letter comes in verse 5-7. Paul mentions that he hears of the love and faith of Philemon towards other people. Although this section is brief, it notes something very important. Paul, being placed in prison, does not have the same access to the world as many. However, he is free to have visitors as he chooses and it is most likely these visitors who have told of Philemon’s faith and love. This means that he has a testimony that is known amongst the people. As others are looking on, Philemon has a reputation for being a godly man, and thus is looked upon for it. Ultimately, this brings glory to God. It is a great lesson for each of us to think about. What would others say about us? Do we maintain a positive or negative testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ? We can learn from Philemon about the need to keep a positive testimony as others are always watching.
Therefore, as we continue to reflect back on our journey through Philemon, we learn first, about the need for prayer and maintaining that as a priority in our life, and second, about the need for a positive testimony. These points often go hand in hand as well; there is need for prayer to be an active part of our life if we are to maintain a positive testimony.
Over the next couple of days, I will take us through two more theological emphases from the text that are to be incorporated into the Christian walk.