From Slave to Brother (Philemon 1:15-16) – Your Daily Bible Verse – August 11


From slave to brother (Philemon 1:15-16)
By: Amanda Idleman

Today’s Bible Verse: Maybe the reason he was separated from you for a while was so you could find him forever… no longer like a slave, but better than a slave, like a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even more dear to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. – Philemon 1:15-16

Philemon is one of the shortest books in the New Testament. Although only one chapter long, this little book contains many lessons that are very applicable to our daily lives. Paul is the author of this letter. He writes a personal letter to his friend Philemon on a subject close to his heart.

In Paul’s letter, he graciously and passionately defends Philemon’s former slave, Onesimus; a man he met, led to Christ, and now considers a son. Paul shows concern and kindness when he discusses Philemon’s relationship with Onesimus.

This letter is a great example of how we can have difficult conversations in a clear yet loving way. Paul never thinks about social barriers when he talks about these two men with very different backgrounds. It models the truth that we are all equal in the body of Christ. Paul’s letter is an example of how to show Christian love and forgiveness, and to plead for those in need.

Paul was writing to Philemon expressing the need for him to show the same love and forgiveness that God had shown him in Onesimus. Because Paul and Philemon had a strong personal relationship, Paul’s words would have added force. Paul saw the genuine work God had done in Philemon’s life (Philemon 1:19) and now he was asking Philemon to forgive Onesimus and embrace him as a brother in Christ (Philemon 1:16).


Paul’s words prompt Philemon to change Onesimus from slave to brother because of their shared faith in Christ. It would have been a big step for someone living in his culture. He asked Philemon to offer his escaped slave true mercy, love and forgiveness.

Paul argues that slavery did not make Onesimus less worthy of God’s love. He fully embraces Onesimus as his own brother and fervently defends on his behalf.

Our sinful nature tells us to assign value to groups of people based on their position in life. The Bible teaches that God’s love and forgiveness are for everyone. God wants us to show mercy, walk in humility, and love righteousness (Micah 6:8). Paul’s letter encourages Philemon to be humble, just, and merciful in his dealings with Onesimus.

Paul’s love for Onesime drives him to action! He works diligently on her behalf to ensure that Onesime’s relationship with Philemon is restored and that his needs are taken care of. Living a life marked by the love of Christ requires action on our part. We should not remain silent when people we love need our help.

Paul used his relationship with both men as a bridge to help mend the rift that had occurred between them. Our advocacy goes much further when it comes from a place of trust and relationship. Paul was confident that his words would be heard and exceeded by Philemon because he had a strong connection to this man (Philemon 1:21). Wherever possible, our advocacy should be linked to relationships to ensure that our words are marked with love, understanding and can be well received.

This short letter is filled with so much love, passion and truth. Paul openly shares his great love and appreciation for Philemon and Onesimus because he wants to protect the relationship he has with both parties. Paul also sets a strong example with his words of what it means to be a brother or sister in Christ. This means that we should all be considered equal, regardless of our differences. Philemon is a powerful lesson in how we can “speak the truth in love” to those we are close to. Paul’s words are full of great truth and love.

Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live happily. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has published work with Her View from Home, on the MOPS blog, and is a regular contributor to You can read more about Amanda on her Facebook page or follow her on instagram.

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