INTRODUCTION TO PHILEMON
A. Ignatius, Tertullian,
Origen, and Eusebius confirm the canonicity of this brief book.
B. It was also included in the canon of Marcion and in the
C. Letter affirms Paul as the author (Philemon 1:1,9,19).
D. Style and language is Pauline.
Philemon, a wealthy Christian at
Colosse (Philemon 1:1,2,10).
A. Philemon was a wealthy
businessman, owner of slaves and member of the Colossian church whom
Paul led to Christ.
B. Philemon’s slave
Onesimus escaped to Rome absconding some of Philemon’s property.
C. Philemon’s slave
Onesimus came into contact with Paul and became a Christian in Rome
D. Onesimus was useful to
Paul in the ministry but Paul sent him back to Philemon, his master,
with the request to forgive Onesimus. Paul offered to pay for any
financial loss Philemon may have incurred. Paul hoped for the
release of Onesimus shortly.
E. The slave was at the
absolute mercy of the master.
To show how Christians can
mediate and communicate between each other even in interpersonal
relationships within the context of difficult situations.
Intercession for a runaway slave.
A.D. 62 during Paul’s house
arrest in Rome.
VII. UNIQUE CHARACTER
· The book of Philemon gives us
insight into the social fabric of the New Testament church
especially the relationship between masters and slaves within the
same local church.
· There may have been 60,000,000 slaves in the Roman Empire in the
· Philemon is a personal but not a private letter.
· This letter shows how Paul bridged social differences between
masters and slaves.
· Philemon and Colossians are associated because they were written
by Paul and dispatched by the same messengers.
· Paul does not sponsor slavery and neither does Christianity. He
dealt with the social structure of the Roman Empire as it was.
· One chapter, 25 verses, 445 words in KJV. There are 5 one-chapter
books in the Bible: Obadiah, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. Of
the 21 epistles, six of them are personal (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, 2
John, 3 John and Philemon).
· This is an unusual letter with a three-verse introduction and a
· 5 people named in the introduction and 5 in the conclusion.
· It is a prison epistle because Paul wrote it in prison.
· Key verse: verse 17
· Key word: “Receive”
SALUTATION, Philemon 1:1-3
THANKSGIVING, Philemon 1:4-7
REQUEST, Philemon 1:8-21
· Paul’s plea, Philemon 1:1:8-11
· Paul’s purpose, Philemon 1:12-16
· Paul’s appeal, Philemon 1:17
· Paul’s proffer, Philemon 1:18-20
· Paul’s poise, Philemon 1:21
CONCLUSION, Philemon 1:22-25
prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon
our beloved friend and fellow laborer…”
The salutation comprises the first three verses.
Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus,
Thirteen books in the New Testament begin with the name “Paul”. None
of his books begin with “a prisoner of Christ Jesus” except this
one. Philemon is the only epistle where Paul portrays himself
as a “prisoner.” He currently sits in prison in the city of Rome.
Paul refers to his imprisonment six times (Philemon 1:1,9,10,13,22,23).
Philemon is the fourth prison epistle.
Paul adds to “prisoner” the phrase “of Christ Jesus”. The intrepid
Paul is primarily a prisoner of Christ and not the Roman
government or Caesar. Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians
and Philemon from this imprisonment. The Romans incarcerated him but
Jesus Christ had captured his soul. Jesus Christ, under His
sovereign plan, put Paul in prison (Ep. 3:1; 4:1; 6:19,20; Php 1:13;
Ep 4:1 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk
worthy of the calling with which you were called…”
Paul sees no need to call attention to his apostleship due to the
very personal nature of this epistle. Neither does Paul use the term
“servant” or “slave” lest Philemon misunderstand his purpose in
writing (the freeing of the slave Onesimus); he assumes the place of
Paul always says the very minimum about himself. He does not
try to impress people with himself. We invariably try to impress
others with our spirituality, our maturity, our training or our
effort. Jesus Christ is the One with whom we should be impressed.
PRINCIPLE: All situations in our lives come by divine design.
APPLICATION: There is no circumstance that comes into our
lives that is not of the Lord’s doing. We either have human
viewpoint or divine viewpoint on life. Divine viewpoint allows us to
look at our circumstances from God’s viewpoint. Any illness,
handicap, affliction or tragedy cannot come upon us without God’s
will. All of it is for our ultimate good and His glory.
Anyone who is “of Jesus Christ” waves their rights and relinquishes
their freedom to Jesus Christ as Lord. He dictates where we go and
when we get there. Disciples require discipline.
and Timothy our brother
Timothy is not a writer of the book of Philemon but a companion of
Paul. Timothy was with Paul on his third missionary journey in
Ephesus (Ac 19:1ff) so he was acquainted with people in Colosse where
Philemon lived. Paul mentioned Timothy in five other salutations (2
Co, Ph, Co, 1 and 2 Th). He was with Paul during most of his stay in
Ephesus when Paul became acquainted with Philemon. By designating
Timothy as “brother”, Paul reminds us that we are in the fraternity
of the Father. Paul and Timothy were well nigh inseparable. There
was a significant difference in their age but they were close
companions. Paul calls himself “the aged” in verse nine. Paul wrote
two books of the Bible to Timothy (1 & 2nd Timothy).
Timothy was Paul’s troubleshooter
along with Titus. Paul could not be everywhere so he sent these two
sterling men to address certain problems in the church. Timothy was
the vest-pocket edition of the apostle Paul. Paul taught him
everything he knew.
PRINCIPLE: Labor in a common cause binds people together.
APPLICATION: There are certain people that we can trust with
delicate information. We know this because we know them. They will
not garble the message or distort the truth. They will not add to
the truth nor will they subtract from the truth.
Php 2:19 “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you
shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20
For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your
state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ
Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his
father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send
him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.”
1Co 16:10 “Now if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you
without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do.”
To Philemon our beloved
friend and fellow laborer
This is the only occurrence of the name Philemon in Scripture.
Philemon was the object of this little letter. He was a convert of
Paul (Philemon 19; Acts 19:10). He was the master of the fugitive slave
Onesimus (Col 4:9; Philemon 10). Onesimus stole from this wealthy
slave owner. Onesimus later came to trust Christ through Paul and
became a great help to Paul in ministry.
Philemon was Paul’s “beloved friend and fellow laborer.” Philemon
was a beloved one, a dear friend. Paul viewed Philemon as someone
close to him. They probably cultivated their friendship in Ephesus
where Paul stayed for three years.
1Co 15:58 “Therefore, my
beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the
work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the
Php 4:1 “Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and
crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.”
Fellow laborer means
that Philemon participated with Paul in the ministry of Christ at
Ephesus. “Fellow laborer” occurs 13 times, 12 times in Philemon and
once in 3rd John 8. Paul claims no right to order Philemon to
release Onesimus but appeals to Philemon as a “friend” and “fellow
Philemon was a Christian businessman whose home was always open. He
labored with Paul in Ephesus and later he opened his home for the
cause of Christ in Colosse.
PRINCIPLE: A good leader values good workers.
APPLICATION: As Paul appreciated good men and women so should
we, especially those who labor in the gospel and the Word. This is
an indication of a good spiritual leader.
Those who labor with us in the truth of the Word are
fellow-soldiers. We endure conflict together; we stand alert against
the enemy together; we remind each other of our spiritual weapons;
we take responsibility for one another.
Paul was some soul winner. He led the wealthy Philemon to Christ and
led the salve Onesimus to Christ.
All of us can do something for the Savior. We may not have a public
gift but we can serve the Lord. There is room for everyone in the
service of the King. We cannot sit on our hands and say, “There is
nothing for me to do in the ministry.” God will use all of us if we
Ac 15:38 “But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the
one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with
them to the work.”
1Co 3:9 “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you
are God’s building.”
2Co 6:1 “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you
not to receive the grace of God in vain.”
2Ti 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a
worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of
to the beloved Apphia,
Apphia was the wife of Philemon (v. 1). Wives had the
responsibility for slaves and thus Apphia had an interest in
Onesimus’ situation. The wife, according to the custom of the times,
had responsibility for the slaves in the household. She may have had
responsibility over Onesimus.
PRINCIPLE: Good partnership in marriage is essential for
APPLICATION: If a person is married, success in ministry
comes from good partnership. If a marriage is mighty grim, the focus
is on conflict. If there is harmony in the marriage, there is a
heart for others.
Pastors, whose wives are not behind their ministry, have a tough row
to hoe. The pastor whose wife stands with him through difficulties
and troubles receives a great blessing indeed. If you are
considering ministry as a full time occupation, be very careful in
your choice of a mate. It will make all the difference in your
effectiveness for Christ. She will be criticized from every angle so
she must be able to take disapproval and disparagement. If she
cannot take criticism, her husband will not last in ministry.
Archippus our fellow soldier,
Archippus was Philemon’s son or possibly the pastor of the
congregation or both. He was a “fellow soldier” with Paul. A “fellow
soldier” is someone who undergoes brutal battle in campaigns for the
cause of Christ with someone else. Archippus was a trooper in the
cause of Christ.
Php 2:25 “Yet I considered it
necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker,
and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to
Archippus is mentioned
twice in the Bible: 1) here, and 2) Colossians 4:17 where Paul
challenges Archippus to be true to his ministry. He ministered at
Laodicea and Colosse both of which were in the Lycus valley.
PRINCIPLE: Success in ministry requires unswerving commitment
to one’s calling.
APPLICATION: Successful ministry takes unswerving staunchness
to one’s calling. Paul had this attitude.
Acts 20:24 “But none of these
things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may
finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the
Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Paul challenged Timothy to “make
full proof” of his ministry.
2Ti 4:5 “But you be watchful in
all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist,
fulfill your ministry.”
If God leads you to do ministry,
do not settle for the Presidency of the United States nor the Prime
Minister of Canada. Keep unswerving loyalty to God’s calling upon
your life. Don’t settle for anything less.
Unswerving ministry means that there will be many battles. Ministry
always involves hardships. It is not easy being a missionary or
pastor. At times you will lay wounded on the spiritual battlefield
but a good soldier of Jesus will keep fighting until he draws his
last breath. Ministry is blessed and gratifying but not easy or
2Ti 2:1 “You therefore, my son,
be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things
that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to
faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore
must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one
engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life,
that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”
and to the church in
Churches met in homes until A.D. 200. There were no church buildings
until the third century. This church met in Philemon’s house, not
Archippus’ house. Paul wanted the letter to Philemon to be read in
the local church. This is an epistle to the local church as well as
to Philemon. The design of this epistle was to teach the principle
Ro 16:3 “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ
Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I
give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise
greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus,
who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.”
1Co 16:19 “The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla
greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their
house. 19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet
you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.”
There was another house church in Colosse that met at the house of
Nymphas. Some people in Colosse preferred to meet in Philemon’s
house and others preferred to meet in Nymphas’ house. There is room
for individuality and difference in the family of God.
Col 4:15 “Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and
the church that is in his house.”
PRINCIPLE: It is imperative that every believer attach
himself to the local church for encouragement, edification and
APPLICATION: The word
“church” occurs 114 times in the New Testament and is used upwards
of 100 times for the local church. A local church is a
geographically identifiable organized group of believers with local
leadership. Local church members are baptized and identified with
Jesus Christ in their local church. Every true Christian must belong
to a local church.
Acts 12:5 “Peter was therefore
kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by
1Co 1:1 “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the
will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church of God which
is at Corinth…”
1Co 16:1 “Now concerning the
collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of
2Co 8:1 “Moreover, brethren, we
make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of
We all need the local church for
encouragement, support and service. Are you an active part of the
“Grace to you and peace from
God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This verse expresses the usual, customary greeting from Paul.
However, greetings in the New Testament are far from convention.
They are a hope for the readers.
Grace to you - “Grace” is what God does for the
believer because of Christ. Grace is the source of our resources in
2Co 13:14 “The grace of the
Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the
Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”
PRINCIPLE: Grace is our resource for life based on provision
APPLICATION: A Christian can no more operate in the Christian
life apart from grace and peace than he can run his car without gas
and oil. Grace is God’s favor and goodwill that He bestows on us
because of Christ. We do not earn or deserve this favor. God is not
only the Giver but He also is the Gift. Grace is personified in the
person of Christ.
Titus 2:11 ”For the grace of God
that brings salvation has appeared to all men…”
Jn 1:16 “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for
grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth
came through Jesus Christ.”
2Co 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that
you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an
abundance for every good work.”
2Co 12:9 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for
My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I
will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may
rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in
reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s
sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
He 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that
we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
1Pe 5:10 “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His
eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while,
perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
God gives grace to those who say,
“I cannot make it on my own. I’m going to sink. Please help me.” God
gives grace to the humble. God’s grace enables us to maintain our
spiritual equilibrium. The proud have blind spots whereby they do
not recognize their spiritual deficiencies. Those who operate on
grace look to God’s mercy and grace for help during their times of
“Peace” is the result of grace. It is the product of grace.
There is no peace apart from grace whether in initial salvation or
in progressive sanctification.
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
The source of grace is God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace have a double source. Paul puts Jesus Christ on a
par with the Father. If Jesus Christ were anything less than God,
this statement could not be true.
PRINCIPLE: The believer at peace is the believer who
understands God’s sovereign care over his life.
APPLICATION: Peace is the right relation with God that comes
from grace. Grace always precedes peace.
Every Christian has peace with God but very few have the peace of
God. If we recognize God’s sovereign working in our lives, we will
experience the peace of God. We will not fret and fuss about our
circumstances. God’s peace will fortify us against carking,
Is 26:3 “You will keep him in
perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in
Ro 14:17 “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but
righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Ro 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy
Php 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and
supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to
God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will
guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Anxiety will immobilize us. We
will be afraid to take aggressive steps for the Lord. We must
realize that nothing can touch us unless the Lord puts His initials
on it. If He initials it, then it is His program for our lives. It
will work out for His glory. His program for us differs from every
other believer. He has a plan for each of us. If we accept this, we
will have internal tranquility in the midst of external turbulence.
Ep 2:10 “For we are His
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
The believer who operates in the
peace of God can sit down on the inside. He knows that the sovereign
God runs interference for everything that comes into his life. This
gives us confidence and courage to do the work of God.
I thank my God,
making mention of you always in my prayers…”
The first three verses comprise the introduction to Philemon and
verse four begins the body of the epistle.
I thank my God,
All of Paul’s epistles begin with a thanksgiving except one where it
is conspicuous by its absence -- Galatians contains no thanksgiving.
He did not give thanks for the Galatians because of their serious
Co 4:2 “Continue earnestly in
prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving…”
God was personal to Paul so he
uses the term “my,” “my God.” He had a God he could call his own.
Ps 23:1 “The Lord is my
shepherd; I shall not want [lack].”
Ps 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”
making mention of you always in my prayers
Paul talked to God about Philemon on his knees. He does not simply
offer a prayer or two for Philemon but he “always” prays for him.
Philemon was in Paul’s regular prayers.
1 Sa 12:23 “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should
sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach
you the good and the right way.”
Ps 55:17 “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry
aloud, And He shall hear my voice.”
Ac 6:4 “…but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to
the ministry of the word.”
Ro 12:12 “…rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing
steadfastly in prayer…”
Ep 6:18 “…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the
Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and
supplication for all the
Philemon was on Paul’s prayer list. Paul bathed his leaders in
prayer. The word “mention” implies intercession. The occasion for
intercession is in Paul’s practice of his regular prayer life.
Continual thanksgiving and intercession is God’s standard for every
Extend your prayer for other people. It is advisable to have a
written prayer list. We need to bring the situations and
circumstances of others before God in intercessory prayer.
Thanksgiving should always be part of intercessory prayer.
Ja 5:16 “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one
another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a
righteous man avails much.”
Every Christian should have stated times for prayer but he should
also have an attitude of prayer.
He should keep the receiver off the hook.
1Th 5:17 “…pray without ceasing…” We must make time for prayer to
have a dynamic spiritual life. We will never have perfect conditions
for prayer so we have to learn to pray under unfavorable conditions.
…hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord
Jesus and toward all the saints…”
hearing of your love and faith
Paul now gives the reason he thanked God for Philemon in the
previous verse. He continually was “hearing” [present tense] of
Philemon’s character. Philemon developed a capacity of character
that coupled “love and faith” together. He was a man of great
spiritual caliber. Philemon was a man who loved and trusted the Lord
Jesus and loved fellow Christians.
Ep 1:15 “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord
Jesus and your love for all the saints…”
Col 1:3 “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, praying always for you,
since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for
all the saints…”
1Th 1:2 “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of
you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith,
labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the
sight of our God and Father…”
2Th 1:3 “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it
is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of
every one of you all abounds toward each other…”
Paul appeals to Philemon’s character in forgiving the runaway slave
Onesimus for his crimes, “Philemon, your genuine faith in the Lord
Jesus and your love for Him gives you the capacity to forgive. You
were forgiven so you now have the capacity to forgive. Forgive
Onesimus for what he did.”
The “love” here is the love of self-sacrifice. This love does not
come from emotions but from the will that has its source in
humility. It says in effect, “I will sacrifice my pride to love you.
I will do what it takes to meet your need.” This is a love that
transcends emotion and does what it does out of a higher principle.
which you have toward the Lord Jesus
The words “you have” are present tense – “You continue to have
unswerving love and faith toward the Lord Jesus. Your character
revolves around the Lord Jesus.”
PRINCIPLE: Christians have the capacity to forgive because
they have been forgiven.
APPLICATION: Love and faith go hand-in-hand. They are closely
knit. As our faith in Christ develops so our love toward Him will
strengthen. Do you love the Lord more this year than last? We know
Him better so we should love Him more. Jesus proves Himself faithful
in any and every situation. He is a friend that sticks closer than a
brother (Pr 18:24).
Ps 116:1 “I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my
Jn 21:15 “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon
Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He
said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him,
‘Feed My lambs.’”
1Pe 1:8 “…whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see
Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of
It is important to develop the
capacity or caliber to forgive others of wrongs they do against us.
We develop this capacity because we first receive forgiveness from
Ga 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus
neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith
working through love.”
1Th 4:9 “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I
should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love
Forgiveness produces forgiveness.
This is part of the new nature in Christ. Failure to forgive
violates our essential relationship to Christ.
Ep 4:32 “And be kind to one
another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ
Col 3:13 “…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if
anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you,
so you also must do.”
and toward all the saints
Philemon cared about other believers. Paul is sending the renegade
Onesimus back to his master Philemon with the letter to Philemon.
Paul could trust Philemon in dealing fairly with Onesimus. Philemon
cared more than for his “four and no more.” Onesimus was a brother
in the faith so Paul had confidence that Philemon would deal fairly
with Onesimus. Onesimus needed Philemon’s forgiveness.
Philemon loved “all” the saints. Philemon will have his love for
“all” challenged when Paul asks him to forgive Onesimus who did him
wrong. This will be an acid test of his love for “all.”
PRINCIPLE: God wants us to love all the saints, not most.
APPLICATION: Biblical love is more than sentiment. It loves in good
time and it loves in difficult times. The acid test of whether we
love others is loving them in difficult times.
Jn 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one
another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By
this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for
Jn 15:17 “These things I command you, that you love one another.”
Ro 13:8 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who
loves another has fulfilled the law”
1Co 13:1 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging
cymbal… 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the
greatest of these is love.”
1Pe 4:8 “And above all things have fervent love for one another,
for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
You will have come to a great milestone in your spiritual life when
you “cover” a believer’s sin rather than expose him. When we hear of
a Christian speaking despairingly of another believer, we know
automatically that he does not love his brother in Christ. None of
us is in possession of all the facts. But even if we possess the
facts, it makes no difference whether we are right or wrong in our
criticism; we love them by not exposing them. Our criticism may be
justified but our communication of it is not justified.
To love some of the saints is relatively simple but to love all is
more difficult. We are naturally attracted to some people on a human
level. Some are more compatible, friendlier or more personal but the
criterion at hand is that God wants us to love all the saints
whatever their human assets or liabilities.
Uncritical love is an indication that we are a genuine believer. We
develop confidence that we are a Christians this way.
1 Jn 3:14 “We know that we have passed from death to life, because
we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in