And we make the point it is necessary for those who are believers to expect to be walking as their Lord and not as kings in authority unwilling to associate with ordinary people.
3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace we know is undeserved favor. Peace is also something we rarely achieve but a blessing nonetheless and given by God. It broke down all the walls and made peace with people not normally united because of difference in rank and class. The challenge was not for those of low estate but those of high station.
4 I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers. Paul expresses his confidence in Philemon and the work he is doing by thanking God that he is in Colossae and able to look after the ecclesia.
5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints. All reports of them are good, and the important matters attended to by Philemon and the other members of the ecclesia, so Paul has no concern about them as long as their love extended to all.
If you take verse three to refer to Messiah’s ministry, which lasted a little more than three years, then he walked naked and barefoot before the Egyptians and Ethiopians, or the establishment as a witness to them. He had no place to lay his head, and no possessions of his own. He walked naked and barefoot before them.
Jesus did not discriminate between young and old, rich or poor, male or female, for they were all “one” captivity, and this is the point Paul wanted to make to Philemon. Whether Philemon was an Egyptian and Onesimus an Ethiopian is not clear. What we do know is Philemon was master and Onesimus the slave, so their station in life carried by those two classes of people.
6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. There is a matter that needs attention but it is a matter Paul feels compelled to put in the form of a request. He might have put it in the form of a reprimand, because Philemon made a difference between members of the ecclesia and his own servants.
7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother. Again he softens the impact of what he thought would be a shock to Philemon because it shows up his neglect. In no way was Paul going to infer Philemon had done something wrong.
The position had changed. Led into captivity to Christ. The glory of the Egyptian, which was their wisdom and power, would mean nothing as captives. No expectation of high office and standing, and the slave in their house taught the truth. Because of the position they had in common one was no better than the other, as all walked barefooted with their buttocks uncovered and in need of salvation.
The Egyptian might expect to hold more sway than the Ethiopian, but they would be afraid to exercise that authority in the presence of the new master.
8 Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient. The language exaggerated with Paul careful not to offend, though he makes the point he has a right to insist.
9 Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. But he would not do this because of the closeness. Remember they have not met personally. Paul has not been to Colossae and we have no record of them meeting. He in no way invokes his authority as an Apostle, but makes his request based on seniority that age gives.
Note that Paul starts his letter to Philemon claiming to be a prisoner of Jesus Christ. From that time onward the whole world will have only one expectation to escape and that is through Messiah. So Philemon had a duty to teach Onesimus, but he did not. Onesimus ran away, for reasons which left Philemon with complaint against him, but of which we have no detail. That he ran away at all was grounds of complaint in that era, for slaves were the property of their master. Paul tells slaves to do their duty to their masters even more earnestly if their masters believe as well. So Onesimus might well owe Philemon service Paul says he will pay if Philemon insists. But the point is that they all walk naked and barefoot in this world if they are to follow their Lord.