Philemon Pt.2

The Underdogs: A Study of Jude, Philemon, Obadiah, 2nd + 3rd John

Hosted by Micah Harrison + Matt Winter w/ Special Guest Kristy Allen


  • What we are looking forward to in 2022 + the definition of a finger | 0:30
  • Slavery in the ancient world | 10:00 
  • The heart behind Paul | 15:45
  • Is Paul passive-aggressive? | 22:00
  • Working through a difficult phrase – Philemon 1:6 | 27:30
  • Fellowship and intimacy in the church | 32:00
  • A fun insight from Greek | 38:40
  • Paul’s driving question: What is best for the gospel | 40:00
  • How to Study the Bible”: Application | 46:15


“How to study the Bible” – Application
1. Original context. What did it mean to them?
2. Timeless Truth. What timeless truth do we learn from this passage?
3. Modern Context. How does that timeless truth work out in me, my life, and my culture?

1 | Slavery in the Ancient World

It’s easy to view slavery through the lens of its history in the United States. Slavery in ancient Rome was less unilateral than it was in America. Roman slaves held many more varied and sometimes esteemed positions in Rome. They were senators, doctors, teachers, craftsman, household and financial managers, as well as the positions we normally imagine: manual laborers, mine workers, ship rowers. It was also normal for slaves to go free or even to voluntarily choose to become a slave. There were some advantages to being a slave than a free person. Slavery was also not racist in the ancient world. At the same time, plenty of slaves were abused and mistreated and the law protected the master in most situations of abuse.

2 | Paul’s passive-aggressiveness

Paul’s rhetoric in this letter feels passive-aggressive to us. Perspective is everything. We have to remember the power dynamic between Philemon and Onesimus. Onesimus was a runaway slave. Philemon had the legal right to execute him for his disobedience. Philemon possessed all the power in this relationship. Paul steps in the middle of that relationship and puts his own reputation on the line to defend Onesimus, who could not defend himself. Paul is not being passive-aggressive, he’s actually defending the defenseless.

3 | A glimpse of sinless intimacy | Philemon 1:6

The more we are able to work through conflict, disagreements, and hurts with each other, the more relational intimacy we can have both with God and other believers.

4 | Application: Paul’s driving question is “what is best for the gospel?”

The driving question for Paul and Philemon is not “what am I allowed to do?” but “what is best for the gospel?” We must be willing to be uncomfortable and make sacrifices for the sake of the gospel. We may land on a different answer in each situation, but the controlling question must be “what is best for the gospel?” If you have not been uncomfortable lately, then you are probably playing it too safe.



What a great discussion. Join us as we continue to wrestle with ideas, topics, and thoughts brought up in Philemon. We talk about slavery, fellowship, and intimacy within the church, Paul’s heart for the gospel, and much more. What does it take to apply Scripture to our own lives today? We talk about all these things in today’s episode.


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