Philemon: Slave or Brother?

Philemon 16: Slave or Brother?


Scripture verse: “no longer as a slave but more than a slave – a beloved brother…”



  1. Student should be able to define slave and brother.
  2. Student should be able to state that “we are all brothers in Christ”


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


2.   Discuss slavery—the buying and selling of people – use examples from the Bible (e.g. review the story of Moses, of Joseph, of Daniel and the 3 men in the fire), from ancient Rome in the days of Paul, and from our own American history.  Explain the story of Onesimus and Philemon:

            In the days of Paul, there lived a slave named Onesimus in the city of Colossae.  His master was named Philemon.  Philemon heard the teachings of Paul and became a Christian; his name means “Affectionate”.  But, Onesimus was a useless slave, who finally stole his master’s money and ran away to the big city of Rome.  There, Onesimus also heard the teachings of Paul about Jesus and became a Christian.  He knew he had done wrong in running away from his master and returned to Philemon with a letter from Paul himself.  In the letter, Paul told Philemon how much Onesimus had served him in Rome, and he hoped that Philemon would receive his slave back with love and forgiveness.  This Philemon did, and he sent Onesimus back to Paul to serve the Lord.  Later, Philemon became bishop of Colossae and Onesimus bishop of Ephesus.


  1. Discuss the love of Christ; did Jesus love some people more than others?  Should we? What should Onesimus do when Philemon returned.  What did the father do when the Prodigal Son returned?  All of these Bible stories are in the children’s  Bibles for review.


  1. Learn the song, “A New Commandment”; Jesus teaches us to love all as brothers, just as He loved us:


A new commandment I give to you (2 times)

That you love each other (2 times)

Even as I have loved you.

By this all men will know (2 times)

That you are my disciples (2 times)

If you have love for each other.


  1. Make paper chains as a craft; these can be used also as Christmas decorations, either in the church or at home.


  1. Close with prayer.