The Book of Philemon : Lesson #2
The Character of Philemon
In the previous lesson we studied the character of Paul and saw many character traits that we need in our own lives. In this lesson we are going to look at some of the character traits of Philemon in this book. The reason for looking at the character traits is to show us things that we need in our lives as saved people who are trying to serve God. Character is missing in the adults of this generation and therefore we see very little character in our young people and children. This is true of both lost people and saved people. Many years ago, even lost people had character but now many saved people do not even have character. So let us look to the word of God and see some examples of good character and follow the examples we see.
Character Traits of Philemon:
1) He continued the work despite the hardships (Verses 1-2)
- Form verse 2 we see that Philemon had a church in his house. That in itself is a lot of work. Imagine having a church in your house. Many churches have started that way and the pastors will tell you that it is hard work.
- Now as we have seen from the book of Philemon his servant Onesimus had deserted him and most likely stolen money from him in the process of his departure. (Verses 18-19) It is good to see that Philemon did not quit because of the hardship. He is still serving faithfully in the work of the Lord when Paul writes this letter to him.
- We are told to endure hardness as a good solider of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). Yet many times we quit just because we get mad or get our feelings hurt. Other times we quit because we hit a little bump in the road or have a hard time. This shows a lack of character on our part we need to serve God with the character of Philemon.
- Note what Paul endured in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 and then see just how rough we have it.
2) His Love and Faith was two-fold (Verse 5)
- Note that his love and faith was both toward Jesus Christ and toward all the saints.
- This is the character trait that Jesus himself said that we should have in Matthew 22:37-40. First we are to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and mind, then we are to love our neighbor as our self.
- If we could love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind then we could be able to do the 2nd part of that passage.
- Having his faith and love toward the Lord Jesus Christ and the saints is why he was able to keep serving God despite the hardships of the ministry as we said in point number one above.
3) His communication proved his love (Verse 6)
- The word communication can mean more than spoken words. In the word of God the word communication can refer to your actions or your manner of life. (Example : 1 Peter 3:1 here the lost husband is said to possible be won by the actions of the wife not the words)
- Note that in verse 6 it is the communication of thy faith. This could be referring to Philemon witnessing to others in Colosse, which I am sure he did frequently. Or it can be that his faith wasn’t just talked about it was backed up by his actions.
- Many saved people today do not live any different than lost people and that is a very bad testimony for the Lord, themselves and the church they attend. What we need today is some saved people with enough character to love and show their faith for the Lord Jesus Christ in actions not just words. (1 John 3:18)
4) He was refreshing to the saints (Verse7)
- What a blessing it must have been to be around Philemon. That is a good thing to have said about you that you are refreshing to people. Today so many people just complain and gripe about everything and it is not even a joy to be around them.
- This causes a person to have a negative effect when trying to be a witness for Jesus. If you look like you have been sucking on lemons for all your life and never have a kind word or remark about anything why would any lost person want what you have?
- We should strive to be like Philemon and be an encouragement to others. (Philippians 2:1-8)
5) He could be counted on (Verse 21)
- This is one of the character traits that is missing from saved people today. You can’t count on people like you used to could. People tell you that they will show up for church, meetings, visitation, workdays, activities, special services and you never see them or they are extremely late when they do show up.
- Note that Paul said he was confident that Philemon will do not only what Paul ask him to do but will do more. We can’t even get people to do what they are supposed to do let alone above what they are supposed to do.
- Note Proverbs 20:6 “Most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find”. Now I know that Solomon made that statement many years ago, but it is still true. If you can find a faithful man today, you have accomplished something very great.
- We need some saved people who can be counted on and who will let their yes mean yes and their no mean no.
Let us follow in these character traits and therefore set a good example for the next generation before character has left our society for good.
The Book of Philemon : Lesson #2 Handout
The Character of Philemon
1) What kind of ministry was Philemon working hard in despite the hardships?
2) What was one of the hardships that we see Philemon experiencing in this book?
3) What is a good passage for us to read when we think we are having it rough and want to quit?
4) Explain the great character trait of Philemon found in verse 5 and give a reference for it.
5) What is meant by the word “communication” in the Bible besides just a conversation between two people? Give a reference for an example.
6) What is a good verse for showing that we should show our love not just proclaim it?
7) What is one of the negative effects of not being a pleasurable person to be around?
8) What is the character trait of Philemon found in verse 21 and why is it so important?
9) Give a verse showing how hard it is to find a faithful man.