Vs. 17, “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.” Philemon was one of the early leaders in the church at Colosse and they met in his home (vs. 2). The early New Testament churches did not have their own facilities, so they would meet in their homes. Notice how Paul respected and honored Philemon in his introduction (vs. 1-7). This was going to be an opportunity for Philemon to forgive as he was forgiven by Christ. While Paul could have used his authority to demand forgiveness or even not return Onesimus, he wanted to give Philemon the opportunity to have his own rights. We see a beautiful extension of love from Paul as he offers to pay back any loss incurred upon Philemon (vs. 18-25). Notice too that Onesimus must have surely agreed upon this and repented of his actions. He was willing to go back and suffer any consequences.
Regarding application…Price to Pay. Vs. 19, “I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self.” Someone was going to have to pay for the losses of this relationship. Paul was willing to pay for it because Philemon had suffered loss. Onesimus was willing to take any consequences and lose his life again as a slave. Philemon would have to incur loss if he forgave Onesimus. Bottom line; living a Christian life of forgiveness means someone is going to pay. Ultimately, Jesus Christ paid the price on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness is not cheap. It can cost our grief, our money, our selfishness and even reputation among others. But brothers and sisters, let us be people willing to pay the price. We may not always get back what we feel we deserve. I recall lending money to a few people over the years. Rarely did they pay me back. That wasn’t my money in the first place. And besides, there were plenty of times when someone graciously lent me their time and money. Let us love with grace each other.