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Heart of the Matter

Heart of the Matter- Forgiveness


I. Opening Greetings (1-3).

II. Words of encouragement for Philemon (4-7)

III. The appeal (8-10)

A. Paul’s authority (8)

B. Paul’s bond of love (9)

C. The appeal for Onesimus (10)

IV. Onesimus’ value to Paul and Philemon (11-16)

V. Philemon strongly exhorted to follow through (17-22)

VI. Closing greetings (23-25)

I. Greeting

II. The Character of One Who Forgives 4-7

III. The Actions of One Who Forgives 8-18

IV. The Motives of One Who Forgives (19-25)


Why does Paul refer to himself as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus”?

What does verse 2 show us about the early NT church?

Why would Paul want this letter read to the entire church?

What do verses 4-7 show about Paul’s attitude toward Philemon?

What kind of person was Philemon?

How did Philemon give Paul joy?

What was the content of Paul’s prayers for Philemon?

What do you think is Paul’s purpose in sharing these high words of praise with Philemon?

Does your testimony shine brightly like Philemon’s? What might someone say about you?

Why could Paul give orders to Philemon?

What did Paul decide to do instead of ordering Philemon?

What does this teach us about using authority (having authority doesn’t mean you always have to use it)?

Who is Onesimus? What is his relationship to Philemon? What is his relationship to Paul? What does it mean “begotten in my imprisonment”?

Why was Onesimus now so much more useful than before?

Why did Paul send him back (Onesimus had broken the law by running away and stealing. These issues had to be resolved.)

If you could summarize Paul’s request into one word, what is he asking Philemon to do? (Forgive)

Did Philemon deserve forgiveness?

What does this tell us about the nature of forgiveness?

What would an unbelieving master do to Onesimus?

Was Paul clear in his request? What else can we learn about communication between believers from Paul?

What is Paul offering to do in 17-19? Is this similar to any other situations in the Bible?

What does the phrase “not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well” tell us about why we should forgive (Philemon owed his spiritual salvation to Paul’s grace and work in his life. We sin as well and owe our situation completely to the grace of God.)