I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.
Paul’s letter to Philemon has a pretty major subject. Perhaps we do appreciate the weight of it. He is pleading, essentially, for a man’s life. More importantly, he is pleading for spiritual victory in Philemon. He is doing so having already acted on the assumption that Philemon will respond as Paul requests. In making his plea Paul employs several triggers to lead Philemon to the appropriate response:
He mentions Apphia
She is presumed to be his wife. By mentioning her name he both assigns this letter to her as well as Philemon, and places part of the responsibility for his request upon her. Perhaps the feminine element will move Philemon to a more gentle response.
He reminds Philemon that he could expect his submissive response
But then chooses rather to ask than to demand. Whenever an authority is able to enlist the voluntary compliance to his leadership he is much better off than if he forces the mandatory one.
He submits himself to Philemon
There is a sense in which we are all to be submitted one to another. Those in authority are as equally accountable to those they lead as those they lead are to them. The soldier who is about to give his life on the field of battle does so expecting that his commanding officers will not waste his sacrifice. Paul recognizes this and submits to the authority of Philemon.
He makes Philemon his comrade and partner in the ministry
By appealing to Philemon as a partner he gives him fruit in the blessing of souls saved, including that of Onesimus.
He reminds Philemon of his part in Philemon’s salvation
Paul considered himself a debtor to all men to preach to them the gospel but in many respects those he lead to Christ were indebted to him. That he would ask this of him was reasonable.
He referred to Philemon as “brother”
By doing so he invoked the bonds of family and blood. Men will do many things for family that they will not do for anyone else..
See in these tools of Paul clues for successful negotiations in difficult requests.
Philemon 1:19 Successful Negotiation
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