Thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. This is the seventh lesson in a series of lessons on the Book of Philemon. In this lesson I’m going to look at verses eight thru 14 and talk about exercising restraint. There are many verses in the New Testament that give instructions about how to exercise authority, and the need to exercise restraint while exercising authority. Philemon contains a small story to illustrate what it looks like to live out those commands.
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Thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. This is the seventh lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Philemon. In this lesson, I’m going to look at verses eight through 14 and talk about exercising restraint.
I mentioned in earlier lessons that Philemon is in the Bible because it’s a short little story that illustrates how to live out various commands we see in the New Testament about how to exercise authority and how to submit to authority. One of the concepts we see in those verses throughout the New Testament about authority is the concept of exercising restraint. What I’m going to do in this lesson is look at verses in the New Testament that tell about how to exercise authority. I’m going to look at what it says about exercising restraint. Then I’ll read Philemon and see how that concept is illustrated in the book of Philemon.
Let’s get started with 1 Peter.
1Pet. 5:1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.
We see that elders are told to exercise oversight. However, they’re not supposed to lord it over those allotted to their charge. So the elders have to exercise some restraint. We see also the elders are supposed to be examples for the flock
Eph. 6:9 And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
Here, masters are told not to threaten their slaves. We see that masters are reminded that they too have a master in heaven. Masters are also reminded that they and their slaves have the same heavenly master. So masters have to exercise restraint because they too have a master.
Col. 4:1 Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.
Here, masters are told to give justice and fairness to their slaves. Again, they have to exercise restraint. Masters are reminded that they too have a master in heaven. For that reason, they have to exercise restraint. Since they have a heavenly master, they’re not free to do anything they want.
We see in all these verses that when masters exercise authority, they have to exercise restraint. Now let’s read the book of Philemon and see how this is illustrated in Philemon. The main verses I want to look at are verses eight through 14, but I’m going to start reading at verse one for some context.
Philemon 1:1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy the brother, to Philemon, the beloved and our fellow-worker, 2 and to Apphia the sister, and to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the assembly in your house. 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon 1:4 I always give thanks to my God, making mention of you during my prayers, 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 so that the fellowship of your faith might be effective in the knowledge of every good which is in us for Christ. 7 Indeed, I came to have much joy and encouragement from your love because the hearts of the saints were refreshed through you, brother.
Philemon 1:8 Therefore, having enough boldness in Christ to order you to do that which is proper, 9 because of love, I rather exhort, being of such a kind as Paul, now elderly, but also a prisoner of Christ Jesus.
Paul was an apostle. He had authority. He could have ordered Philemon to do the right thing. Paul made reference to that in verse eight. He said that even though he had enough boldness in Christ to order him to do what is proper, Paul did not want to do that. Instead, Paul exercised restraint. Paul exhorted Philemon to do the proper thing. Paul encouraged Philemon to do the proper thing.
Philemon 1:10 I exhort you concerning my child Onesimus, whom I begat during the imprisonment, 11 the one formerly useless to you, but now useful to you and me, 12 whom I sent to you. This is our heart, 13 whom I wish to keep to myself so that on your behalf he might minister to me during the imprisonment for the gospel. 14 However, without your consent I wanted to do nothing, so that your goodness might be due not to compulsion, but rather to willingness.
Paul used the word exhort again. He said he was exhorting Philemon. He was encouraging Philemon. He was not ordering Philemon to do anything. Paul stated very explicitly in verse 14 that he didn’t want to do anything without Philemon’s consent. He said he wanted Philemon’s goodness to be due, not to compulsion, but rather to willingness. Again, we see that Paul exercised restraint. As an apostle he could have ordered Philemon to do the right thing, but he didn’t. He encouraged Philemon. He exhorted Philemon. He gave Philemon the opportunity to choose to do the proper thing.
Throughout the New Testament, we have various verses directed to people who exercise authority, telling them that in the exercise of that authority, they need to exercise some restraint. People who have authority here on Earth also have a master in heaven, and they have to answer to Him. Therefore, they’re not free to do anything they want to do.
We see in the book of Philemon that Paul was an example of this. Paul himself exercised restraint in how he dealt with Philemon. We see in the book of Philemon an illustration of how to live out various commands that we see in the New Testament about how to exercise authority.
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