Philemon was a convert of Paul, who lived in the city of Colossae. He had a slave named Onesimus, who had run away and found his way to Rome (where Paul was in prison). He had come under the influence of Paul and had been converted to Christ.
Now comes the dilemma. What should Onesimus do, since he is now a Christian? The decision to return to his master was made. It was the right one, but not the easy one. Here is a lesson in restitution. As far as it is possible, God expects us to make restitution for our wrongs, even those before we became Christians.
Paul shows great confidence in Philemon when he says, "...knowing that you will do even more than I say" (vs 21). A great philosophy in life is to do all you can for another "And Then Some"!
Imagine if we could ask these three men some questions: Paul, why did you treat a runaway slave like you did? Answer: Because love has a ministry that serves the worst. Paul why did you write to Philemon and commend him so highly? Answer: Because love has a courtesy that gains the most. Onesimus, why did you go back to your owner, knowing that you could be punished? Answer: Because love has an honesty that will not take advantage in the least. Philemon, why did you forgive one who had wronged you? Answer: Because love has an expectancy that looks for the best.
I hope you will take a few minutes and read this little, but powerful inspired letter