CARE Sheet 1/16/11 Philemon & Slavery

ICE BREAKER: How have your perspectives of  the national holiday, “Martin Luther King Day changed since it was first signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983?  How do you think the perspectives of the general public have changed through the years? Consider the perspectives of churches across the country regarding M.L.K. day.

Title: “Philemon and Slavery”

Text: Philemon 15-16;


  1. How did Paul suggest Philemon’s perspectives might change about Onesimus?  Phil. 15-16
  2. How does the historical context of 1st century slavery in the Roman empire enhance our understanding of Philemon and it’s alleged positions on slavery? (go to “Philemon & Slavery”)
  3. What does the Bible say about slavery? Lev. 25:39-43; Ex. 21:28-32; Gal. 3:28; Ep. 6:5-9; Col 3:22-4:1; 1 Tim 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10
  4. What injustices commonly seen in modern slavery are condemned in Scripture? De. 24:14-15; Is. 58:5-9; Mal. 3:5; Jam. 5:4; Col. 4:1;
  5. How does God view those that are less fortunate?  How does He expect us to react to them? (“Scriptures Regarding the Poor”)
  6. How did Christians in the South justify biblically and spiritually the institution of slavery?


  1. Is “slavery” still a problem today?
  2. If slavery in early American history was dominantly to fill the human desire of producing wealth on the backs of African Americans, what human desire is being fulfilled by less fortunate populations today? How wide spread is this injustice?  (Go to Modern Day Slavery)
  3. Name some other divisive elements (social injustices) of society down through the years that the church has had a hard time agreeing upon.  How have they resulted in varied levels of injustice or prejudice?
  4. How might the 21st century Christian deal with injustices in modern culture? (go to “When Helping Hurts”)
  5. Is there any evidence if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. viewed sexual orientation as a civil right?
  6. Is there any more serious transgression of civil rights than the refusal of the rights of the unborn?


  1. Check out the movie “Amazing Grace.” Why is it so difficult to see injustice when those around you can’t see it?  Is the average church today numb to obvious injustices that are prevalent all around us?
  2. How can we become more aware of suffering and injustice that is going on next door?
  3. One very fascinating outgrowth of modern slavery was the development of the Negro Spirituals.  The spiritual resilience of the African American slaves is a tribute to God's sustenance in times of despair.


  • There is Power in the Blood
  • House of the Lord (I Was Glad)
  • Happy Day
  • You Never Let Go
  • Spirit of the Living God
  • Redeemer, Savior, Friend
  • Power in the Blood


Title: “Reconciliation at its Most Difficult Hour”

Text: Philemon 15 -16

  1. What kind of thoughts would you imagine to be going through Philemon’s mind after Onesimus had run away?  What would Philemon think when he walked by the room or bed where Onesimus had stayed?  or the area where Onesimus worked?
  2. Describe the most difficult situation when you were expected to forgive someone.  What made it so difficult? What made it possible?