PRAISE- An act of worship or acknowledgment by which the virtues or deeds of another are recognized and extolled. The praise of one human being toward another, although often beneficial (1 Cor 11:2; 1 Pet 2:14), can be a snare (Prov 27:21; Matt 6:1-5). But the praise of God toward people is the highest commendation they can receive. Such an act of praise reflects a true servant’s heart (Matt 25:21; 1 Cor 4:5; Eph 1:3-14).
POMEGRANATE- A round, sweet fruit about ten centimeters (four inches) across with a hard rind. It is green when young and turns red when ripe. There are numerous edible seeds inside the pomegranate.
The hem of Aaron’s robe was decorated with blue, purple, and red pomegranates (Ex 28:33-34; 39:24-26). It was listed among the pleasant fruits of Egypt (Num 20:5). Solomon decorated the temple with the likeness of the pomegranate (1 Kin 7:18, 20). A spiced wine was made from the Juice (Songs 8:2).
PHILEMON- A wealthy Christian of Colossae who hosted a house church. Philemon was converted under the apostle Paul (Phil 19), perhaps when Paul ministered in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). He is remembered because of his runaway slave, Onesimus, who, after damaging or stealing his master’s property (Phil 11, 18), made his way to Rome, where he was converted under Paul’s ministry (Phil 10).
Accompanied by Tychicus (Col 4:7), Onesimus later returned to his master, Philemon. He carried with him the Epistle to the Colossians, plus the shorter Epistle to Philemon. In the latter, Paul asked Philemon to receive Onesimus, not as a slave but as a “beloved brother” (Phil 16).
PHILEMON, EPISTLE TO – The shortest and most personal of Paul’s epistles. Philemon tells the story of the conversion of a runaway slave, ONESIMUS, and the appeal to his owner PHILEMON, to accept him back. The letter is warm and masterful, reminding us that the presence of Christ drastically changes every relationship in life.
The Epistle to Philemon is a lesson in the art of Christian relationships. No finer example of “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) exists than this beautiful letter. While it was Philemon’s legal right in the ancient world to punish or even kill a runaway slave, Paul hoped-indeed expected (v 19) that Philemon would receive Onesimus back as a brother in the Lord, not as a slave (v 16). From beginning to end Paul addresses Philemon as a trusted friend rather than as an adversary (v 22); he appeals to the best in his character (v 4-7, 13-14, 17,21). In spite of Paul’s subtle pressures for Philemon to restore Onesimus, he is careful not to force Philemon to do what is right; he helps him choose it for himself (v 8-9, 14).