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Onesimus - the runaway slave

Onesimus, the runaway slave, returns to Philemon.
Contributed by Richard Gunther
Story also available on our translated websites: Spanish, Portuguese
Philemon was a rich man living in Colossae who had a slave called Onesimus. One day Philemon met a Christian called Paul and became a follower of Jesus. He opened his home to be used as a place for Christians to meet and later became a leader of the church at Colossae. – Slide 1
Onesimus decided he no longer wanted to be a slave and decided to run away. He may have stolen from Philemon to pay for his escape. – Slide 2
He hid from people wherever he went, for if a runaway slave was caught he faced terrible punishment, even death. He got as far away from Philemon as he could, leaving the country and heading for Rome. – Slide 3
Once in Rome he heard that a Christian called Paul was in the city under house arrest. It was the same person who had told Philemon about Jesus and His forgiveness. For reasons we don’t know Onesimus decided to go and visit Paul. – Slide 4
Paul welcomed the runaway slave and listened to his story. Paul was able to tell Onesimus about Jesus and how Jesus had changed his life. – Slide 5
Onesimus decided it was time to stop running away and put his life right with God. He became a Christian even though he knew it would mean going back to Philemon and asking him to forgive him. – Slide 6
Paul wrote a letter to Philemon telling him that Onesimus had became a Christian and wanted to say sorry for running away. He asked Philemon not only to forgive his runaway slave but welcome him back as a fellow Christian and member of God’s family. Paul also offered to pay for anything Onesimus had stolen. – Slide 7
So Onesimus headed back to Philemon with the letter from Paul. The letter is found in the Bible and is called the Letter to Philemon. The Bible does not tell us what happened when Onesimus met Philemon. What do you think happened? – Slide 8
Slide 9