Philemon is a unique letter from Paul.
In this letter, Paul advocated for an escaped slave, Onesimus. Onesimus had not only escaped, he had also stolen some property and possibly money from his master, Philemon.
Paul writes to Philemon and requests that he forgive Onesimus and even take him back as a brother in Christ rather than as a slave. Paul offers to pay for any monetary damage.
Paul, in Philemon 1:18 plainly states; "If he has done any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me." Paul puts into simple action what Jesus did for us; he paid our debt for sins willingly.
This appears to be the last letter in the Bible from Paul.
Shortly after this, due to severe persecution of Christians at this time, Paul was executed, likely beheaded on the orders of the Roman Emperor.
I was especially moved by the letter to Philemon written by Paul as he takes up the cause of
Onesimus. It reminds me of an incident in the story, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
Jean Valjean a good man in unfortunate circumstances, escapes from prison.
He comes upon the home of a man, who was a follower of Christ, and who offers him a meal and a place to sleep.
During the night, Jean steals some items of silver from this man's home.
The man awakes and Jean Valjean hits him and runs away. Jean Valjean sees him the next
day. The man recognizes Jean Valjean as the thief and instead of having him arrested,
offers him more of his silver items to help Jean Valjean re-establish his life.
Jean Valjean is extremely moved, almost stupified
by his instant forgiveness and giving heart. Much like Jean Valjean, Onesimus seemed
a victim of circumstance yet Paul interceded for him when Onesimus came to the Lord
and advocated on behalf of Onesimus to make things right with Philemon. This also
parallels how Jesus intercedes for us.