Perhaps Onesimus stole from Philemon when he left. Or maybe Paul is referring to the money he lost as a result of Onesimus being gone. Either way, Onesimus has a debt to pay to his owner and Paul gives Philemon what amounts to a promissory note to pay it himself.
What Paul is doing on behalf of this slave reflects the great redemptive act of Christ for us. He paid what we could not pay. And Christ’s reconciliation is put into full effect when we follow the same pattern in our lives with others. When we allow the Cross to shape our day-to-day lives, God’s love is set free to change and heal in powerful ways.
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