Verse of the Day Devotion. Philemon 1:4
“I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers,” – Philemon 1:4
There are only five books in the entire Bible that only have one chapter: one in the Old Testament, Obadiah, and four in the New Testament, second and third John, Jude, and Philemon. This is the only book which was written to an individual. But it is understood by this that he was a beloved friend of Paul. At this time Paul was a prisoner of Rome, of circumstances brought on the religious leaders. “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philemon 1-3.
So, in our focus verse we read, “I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers,” Philemon 4. Paul was a man of prayer. He was thankful for his relationship with Philemon and often lifted him up in prayer. He makes a similar statement to the Church in Ephesus. “For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;” Ephesians 1:15-16. And why is he thankful to God for him? Paul then says, “because I hear of your love, and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints; and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake. For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.” Philemon 5-7. Paul says there are two things he has heard that make him thankful to God for Philemon: his love for all of God’s people and his faith in the Lord Jesus. Now he may have heard this from Onesimus, or others who Paul has heard from, but either way, he was told Philemon had strong faith in the Lord Jesus, and ardent love towards all who were Christians. So much so, that he had a church in his home. Note in his opening statement above, “and to the church in your house”.
Paul was a radical believer in Christ. Before this he was a Pharisee and is known today as a Pharisee of Pharisees. He hated the disciples of Jesus for a long time, to the point that he requested permission and letters from the synagogues at Damascus to bind and bring to Jerusalem anyone who was a follower of Jesus (See Acts 9:1-2). But he was converted to a follower soon after. “And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? And he said, “Who art Thou, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.” Acts 9:3-6.
Paul, formerly Saul, became so devoted to Christ that he left everything else behind in order to serve Him. And one thing he did was pray for the Church and the believers. The Church was going through much persecution and Christians everywhere, just as Paul and other leaders in the Church spent their time. And with things going in the direction it is going, we all need to be praying for our fellow Christians and the Church itself as well. The enemy is focusing on dividing the Church, and we need to pray that God will intervene and help us keep our unity.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.