Philemon 1:17-18

Tom Harding

"If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account."–Philemon 1:17-18.

When the apostle Paul asked his friend and fellowlabourer, Philemon to receive his runaway slave, Onesimus back into his family, he appealed to him to be reconciled on the basis of love, "for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged" (verse 9). He also assured Philemon that he would repay any loss or debt by imputing or charging that debt to himself. In this very small letter we have a very big message. We see the gospel of sovereign grace so clearly set by this example of love and imputation.

Onesimus had done the wrong in stealing from his master and running away from home. Paul was not guilty or accountable. Yet, Paul willingly assumed the debt and the responsibility to pay Philemon. Since Paul had paid the debt in full, Philemon could not hold Onemisus guilty. Philemon was satisfied.

Now, can you see the gospel of Jesus Christ in the story? We have done the wrong, we have sinned against God (Rom.3:9-12,23). Jesus Christ Himself is guilty of no sin. He had no sin (1John 3:5). He knew no sin (2Cor. 5:21). He did no sin (1Peter 2:22). Yet, Christ Jesus out of love to His people and faithfulness to the Father's covenant (Heb. 13:20), He took our sin to Himself by imputation (1Peter 3:15; Isa. 53:4-6; 1John 4:10). Christ not only took our sin, but He also took them away for ever (John 1:29; Psalm 103:12; Heb.9:12). Now, since my Saviour has taken away my debt to God's law and satisfied His infinite justice, God will not charge the believer with any sin. (Gal. 3:13; Isa. 42:21). There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ (Rom.8:1). Thank God for that blessed scriptural truth of imputation (Rom.5:12; Rom. 5:19).

Tom Harding, Pastor
Zebulon Baptist Church
Pikeville, Ky.

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