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Onesimus the runaway slave

Onesimus, a slave, steals from his master Philemon then runs away. After meeting Paul in prison he returns to ask forgiveness.
Philemon

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Slide 1

Have you ever wanted to hide to get away from a problem? Have you ever felt like running away? Onesimus knew what it was like to feel miserable and angry. – Slide 1

Slide 2

Onesimus was a slave. His name meant ‘useful’. He lived many years ago in the days of the Roman Empire when rich people had slaves who worked for them. A slave had no choice but to work hard for his master who ordered him about. – Slide 2

Slide 3

And Philemon, his master, was certainly rich. He kept his poor slave Onesimus very busy. Onesimus often got tired and fed up. – Slide 3

Slide 4

But one day, everything changed. A travelling preacher visited their city, Colossae. The preacher’s name was Paul. – Slide 4

Slide 5

This is the story of Onesimus the runaway slave. It is found in the Bible. – Slide 5

Slide 6

It was a day just like any other. Onesimus had been hard at work since sunrise. His master, on the other hand, had just got up and was obviously in a great hurry. “Go and polish my chariot! I want to see my face reflected in those wheel hubs!” – Slide 6

Slide 7

Onesimus was tired but he started polishing at once. He was a slave! And slaves had to do what they were told or be punished. Ouch! – Slide 7

Slide 8

As he polished, Onesimus daydreamed about running away. But could he escape without being caught by his master Philemon or by Roman soldiers? – Slide 8

Slide 9

Philemon bellowed new orders. “Get my chariot ready to roll. I’m off into Colossae to check out this new preacher guy Paul. He’s telling people about God and Jesus his Son, and how God can set people free.” Onesimus was intrigued but he knew he couldn’t go and listen to Paul – Philemon would never let him. – Slide 9

Slide 10

A short while later, Philemon joined the crowds listening to preacher Paul. – Slide 10

Slide 11

He shouted to Paul, “You say God can set people free; what do you mean? I’m not a slave!” – Slide 11

Slide 12

“You may not think you’re a slave,” answered Paul, “but you are not really free are you? You may not be a slave with a master who orders you around, but you do and say things that are wrong. You hurt other people and that hurts God. That makes you a slave to the wrong things you do.” – Slide 12

Slide 13

Philemon thought for a while. Slowly, he said, “I suppose you’re right. I am a sort of slave; I do lots of wrong things. What can I do?” Paul smiled. “God longs to forgive us if we are sorry, and to help us to change. That’s what Jesus came to show us.” – Slide 13

Slide 14

Philemon wanted to hear more, so he invited Paul to stay at his house. It wasn’t easy for proud Philemon to say he was sorry to God, but he did. – Slide 14

Slide 15

Everyone seemed happy. Onesimus was happy too, but for a very different reason. His master was too busy to notice what Onesimus was doing. At last his chance had come – he could escape! – Slide 15

Slide 16

Onesimus crept through Philemon’s house stealing money and valuables. Then he tiptoed out of the house, across the courtyard, and down the street. – Slide 16

Slide 17

He moved quickly and quietly, stealthily dodging in and out of the shadows. If he was caught he knew he would be in big trouble. Soldiers would be on the lookout for him, so he hid during the day and moved on in the darkness. – Slide 17

Slide 18

Onesimus made his way to the sea. He had to get far away! Someone might see him and tell the soldiers. – Slide 18

Slide 19

A ship was about to set sail for Italy. Onesimus crept aboard and paid the captain some of the stolen money for his fare. Once out at sea, Onesimus breathed in the fresh sea air – he was free – free at last. But somehow he didn’t feel free inside. Instead, he felt guilty and worried. – Slide 19

Slide 20

He travelled a long, long way by ship – all the way from his home town of Colossae to Italy. – Slide 20

Slide 21

Onesimus made his way to the famous city of Rome. But soon the money he had stolen ran out. He didn’t like the idea of working, so he started stealing again. – Slide 21

Slide 22

“Gotcha! You’re under arrest!” Big, burly Roman soldiers dragged Onesimus off to prison. – Slide 22

Slide 23

Onesimus sat in his cell. No-one in Rome knew who he really was. And no-one knew he was a runaway slave. He had to serve his prison sentence but then he would be released and be free again! – Slide 23

Slide 24

Some months later, the guards came and moved him. “You’re going in with a new cell mate,” grunted the prison guard. “He’s not a criminal, but he has been telling people that God will forgive them and set them free. He’s causing riots, so we’ve arrested him. The Emperor himself is hearing his case.” – Slide 24

Slide 25

Onesimus stared at the man in the cell. “Don’t I know you?” – Slide 25

Slide 26

Paul nodded. “I saw you at Philemon’s house. Aren’t you one of his slaves?” – Slide 26

Slide 27

Onesimus felt scared. Would Paul tell the soldiers who he was? – Slide 27

Slide 28

Over the next few days, the two prisoners talked together. Paul had good news for the runaway slave. “There are wrong thoughts and actions you need to put right with God. If you are really sorry, God will forgive you. It’s dealt with – forgiven and forgotten.” Onesimus knew it was decision time. – Slide 28

Slide 29

“Dear God, I’ve done many things I’m sorry about. Please forgive me and help me to change and live for what’s right.” – Slide 29

Slide 30

Paul hadn’t finished. “There are things you need to sort out with Philemon too.” Onesimus’ jaw dropped. “What about the things I took? Philemon will never forgive me. I’ve nothing left now. How can I repay him?” – Slide 30

Slide 31

Paul thought for a while. “I’ll do what I can. I’ll write a letter to Philemon telling him that I will repay anything you owe him.” – Slide 31

Slide 32

It wasn’t long after when ... “Oy, Onesimus, get your kit together. You’ve served your sentence. You’re out of here.” The prison guard threw him out into the street. – Slide 32

Slide 33

Onesimus breathed in the fresh air. Free again. What should he do? Stay in Rome? Or risk going back to Philemon? It was time for this slave to be brave. He clutched the letter Paul had written to Philemon and strode to the nearest sea port. – Slide 33

Slide 34

He boarded a ship and set sail back to Colossae. – Slide 34

Slide 35

Would Philemon forgive him? If he didn’t ... well, it didn’t bear thinking about. – Slide 35

Slide 36

Once in his own country, he kept hidden. Soldiers were always on the lookout for runaway slaves. He thought of all the times Philemon had bossed him about unfairly. Would Philemon treat him as a runaway slave, or – as Paul had asked him in his letter – like a brother? – Slide 36

Slide 37

During the day he hid. At night he slowly picked his way through the shadows towards Philemon’s house. He was a thief, a liar, a runaway slave. Did he deserve to be forgiven? – Slide 37

Slide 38

At Philemon’s house he wiped his brow and gulped. His trembling hand reached into his bag and took out the letter Paul had written. It started, “Dear Philemon, Please welcome Onesimus as you would welcome me ....” – Slide 38

Slide 39

Onesimus knocked on the door and waited ... the door creaked open ... the big figure of Philemon appeared, casting a shadow over him and ... – Slide 39

Slide 40

The story of Philemon and Onesimus is found in the Bible, but it doesn’t tell us what happened next. What do you think happened? – Slide 40

Slide 41

Do you think Philemon was angry with his thieving, runaway slave? Do you think he reported him to be punished by Roman soldiers? Do you think he had Onesimus thrown back into prison? – Slide 41

Slide 42

Or do you think Philemon read Paul’s letter and forgave Onesimus? Do you think he welcomed him into his home again? Do you think Philemon began treating Onesimus more like a brother than a slave? – Slide 42

Slide 43

Would you have forgiven Onesimus? – Slide 43

Slide 44

Slide 44
PowerPoint
Onesimus, a slave, steals from his master Philemon then runs away. After meeting Paul in prison he returns to ask forgiveness. (Philemon) in PowerPoint 4:3 standard ratio4:3 ratio
Adobe PDF
Onesimus, a slave, steals from his master Philemon then runs away. After meeting Paul in prison he returns to ask forgiveness. (Philemon) in PDF 4:3 standard ratio4:3 ratio
Apple Keynote
Onesimus, a slave, steals from his master Philemon then runs away. After meeting Paul in prison he returns to ask forgiveness. (Philemon) in Keynote 4:3 standard ratio4:3 ratio
JPEGs
Onesimus, a slave, steals from his master Philemon then runs away. After meeting Paul in prison he returns to ask forgiveness. (Philemon) in JPEG 4:3 standard ratio4:3 ratio
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