Bible Lesson: Philemon (Think and Respond)

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This lesson is the second part of studying Philemon inductively with older elementary students. Click here to see part 1. The lesson combines the steps of thinking about what the passage is teaching and how students need to apply the truths from the passage.  This was prepared for a class of older elementary students and is a guide to be adapted for the needs of your ministry.
Learning Goal:  Students will discover truths from Philemon that they can apply to their life to enable them to live a life that pleases Jesus.

Bible Story:Philemon, Think & Respond
Scripture: Philemon
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Observation sheets of Philemon for each student, paper/print outs of questions, pencils/pens, blank paper for Memory verse activity,
Memory Verse:  Ephesians 4:32-Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Memory Verse Activity:  Using a blank piece of paper write the Bible verse on it and illustrate an example of forgiveness.
Learning Activity #1:  Have Bible atlas available to have students locate Rome and Colossae.
Learning Activity #2:  Students create an illustration of forgiveness.

Bible Lesson:  Philemon-Think and Respond

Teacher-Before class prepare questions for your students to discover from the passage of Scripture.  Following are questions our class used (copies of the questions without the answers were printed out for groups of students to work on):
Give students about 10-15 minutes to complete the group of questions they have been given.
Look up Acts 28:16; 30-31.  Where is Paul?  (He is under house arrest in Rome.)
What title does Paul call himself repeatedly (verse 1 and 9) in this book? (Prisoner of Christ Jesus )
In verse 13 what crime is Paul in prison for?  (He’s not in prison for any crime except sharing the message about Christ)
How does Paul pray for Philemon in verse 6?  (That the fellowship of his faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in him for Jesus’ sake.)
From verse 9 how old is Paul? (Aged/old man NIV)
From verse 17 what is Paul asking Philemon to do?  (Forgive Onesimus and accept him as he would Paul)
Where does Philemon live? (It is not clearly made known to us just by reading Philemon.  Use the Bible to compare Scripture with Scripture look up Colossians 4:17 and compare that verse with Philemon 2.  Who is mentioned in both of these verses?  (Archippus)
Now look at Colossians 4:9 and compare with Philemon 10.  Who is mentioned in both of these verses? (Onesimus)
Taking these two examples Bible scholars have concluded that Philemon was a wealthy man living in Colossae.  From the following verses how do you think Bible scholars had the thought that Philemon was wealthy?

  • Read Philemon 2-What did Philemon do in his home?  (A church gathered there)
  • Read Philemon 16-How was Onesimus related to Philemon?  (He was his slave)

(These two facts have made people believe Philemon was wealthy because he had a home big enough for a church to gather and he owned slaves.)
What do we learn about Philemon from:
Verse 1-(He is a believer and serves other believers)
Verse 5-(Love and faith toward Jesus and all the saints)
Verse 7-(Believers have been refreshed through him)
Verse 21-(Obedient)
Read verse 16.  Who was Onesimus? (Philemon’s slave)
Read verses 10, 15-16.  What happened to Onesimus in Rome? ( He became a follower of Christ)
From verse 13 how is Onesimus useful to Paul as a follower of Jesus?  (He could help him as a prisoner in Rome)
Responding to Scripture:
We have thought about Philemon by asking and answering questions about the passage.  To make this meaningful to our lives we need to respond to what God is teaching us.  Now we are going to move into the method of responding to Scripture.
From our study of Philemon what are some questions we could ask ourselves to make this personal so that our lives can be changed to look more like Jesus?
The following are some suggestions if the students have difficulty discovering questions on their own:

  • Do I know what it means to be in Christ?
  • Am I in Christ?
  • Has anyone offended me that I have not forgiven?  If not, why not?
  • How often do I pray for other believers?
  • Am I willing to obey God no matter where I am to share the Good News?
  • Is there any group of people that I am not comfortable sharing the Good News with?
  • Have I ever shared the Good News with another person and they believed?

Close in prayer:  As we asked ourselves questions from this passage something may have spoken very loudly to you that you know God wants you to change in your life.  Before I close in prayer let’s take a few minutes to pray quietly to God and talk to Him about what He wants us to do to change and be more like Jesus.

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