The Gospel Project for Kids

The Children's Ministry team of St. Paul's wants to provide our families with an encouraging word and resources for your family to use while we have church at home for the next few weeks. We are praying that your family can take advantage of this unusual season to be one of growth: growing in relationship with each other and in your relationship with Jesus.  Please use the resources below to keep your children engaged in God's Word while we have Church at Home!

Paul's Letter to Philemon

(Philemon 8-22)

March 29, 2020

Taken directly from The Gospel Project for Younger Kids.  Unit 35, Lesson 1.  All materials copyrighted by Lifeway.

When Paul was a prisoner in Rome, he met a man name Onesimus (oh NESS ih muhs).  Onesimus was a servant.  He had run away from his owner, Philemon.  Philemon was Paul's friend.

Paul told Onesimus the good news about Jesus, and Onesimus believed in Jesus.  He helped Paul, and Paul wanted Onesimus to stay with him.  But Paul knew Onesimus needed to do the right thing:  to go back to Philemon and ask for forgiveness. So Paul wrote a letter and told Onesimus to take the letter back to Philemon.

"Dear Philemon, I am writing you because I love you.  I want you to do the right thing.  I am getting old, and I am in prison because I tell people about Jesus.  I met Onesimus and told him about Jesus, and he believed.  I want him to stay with me but I want your permission first.

"Onesimus is a believer now.  Maybe this is why he left you for a little while - so that he could come back to you as a brother instead of a servant.  He is our friend and brother in Christ.  Please welcome him like you would welcome me.

"Philemon, I would be so happy if you agree to do this.  I know you will do what is right."  Paul asked Philemon to get a room ready for him.  Paul hoped to visit Philemon soon.

Paul was a prisoner under house arrest in Rome when  a man named Onesimus came to visit him.  Onesimus was a slave who had run away from a wealthy name named Philemon.  As it turned out, Paul was a friend of Philemon.  So when Paul told Onesimus the good news about Jesus and Onesimus believed,  Paul desired forgiveness and reconciliation between Onesimus and Philemon - now brothers in Christ.

So Paul wrote a letter and told Onesimus to take it to Philemon.  The Book of Philemon is the letter written by Paul to Philemon.  Though Onesimus  had become dear to him and Paul wanted Onesimus to stay with him in Rome, Paul sent him back to Philemon with his letter.

In the letter, Paul urged Philemon to forgive Onesimus and treat him as a fellow brother in Christ.  Paul even offered to pay Onesimus' debt for him.  Though Paul could have used his authority as an apostle of Christ to force Philemon to do what he wanted, Paul instead appealed to him as a friend and a fellow believer.  He urged Philemon to treat Onesimus as if he were Paul himself - with love and kindness.

Paul offered to pay Onesimus' debt to make peace between him and Philemon.  In this way, Paul acted like Jesus, who makes peace between God and humanity.  Jesus took the punishment we deserve for our sin, paying our debt so that we can be forgiven and welcomed into God's family as brothers and sisters in Jesus.  (See Heb. 2:11).

Paul's letter serves as a reminder to us that everyone is equal before Jesus.  People from completely different backgrounds - like Paul, a former Jewish leader; Onesimus, a runaway slave; and Philemon, a Gentile slave-owner -- are brought together by the gospel under the lordship of Jesus Christ.  In light of God's love for us, we can be loving, kind, and forgiving to our brothers and sisters in Christ for the glory of God.