Can you imagine being a thieving slave, desperate to be unshackled, needing to be free and running away from your situation only to run into the formidable Apostle Paul who didn’t just rub elbows with your master, but knew him intimately? Poor Onesimus! One would think that, until Paul the Converter got hold of him! He wasn’t only converted, but became one more of Paul’s beloved sons. Unshackled by sin, he lived up to his name for Paul: useful. So much so that Paul advocated for him to Philemon and even though he really could have used such a useful son at his side, he sent Onesimus back specifically to reconcile with Philemon. You know what Onesimus’ name means, but did you know that Philemon means “Loving”? It’s a beautiful picture of sin and redemption painted for the world see the truth of the gospel: God’s love leads us to surrender our sins to Him and become children of God. And, as Paul puts it, we are “servants of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.” (Eph 6:6b)
This is indeed the gospel at its core, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. We are redeemed royalty and have such a loving Father that dissolves the shackles of shame and sin with love unfathomable. Praise be to God!
Yes, the story of Onesimus is exactly that! Its a beautiful picture which relates to Jesus dying for us on the cross, paying our debts, and defending us before the Father. It is a beautiful reminder of God’s love for us and gives us a different perspective on what He has done for us!