Useless (Bad Slave)
A slave master (Philemon) is a horrible man with a horrible life, drinking, womanizing, raping slave women, drugs, cheating people at business.
Out on a drunk binge, the slave-master loses a fortune in gambling, and only wins a slave, (Onesimus.)
On the way home, slave-master keeps hitting the slave with a whip, complaining about how disappointed he is in the slave, and how he paid a fortune for him.
The slave-master asks, "What's your name, slave? Even a dog needs a name."
Slave answers, "Onesimus."
The slave master says, "What kind of messed up name is that?"
The slave answers, "It means useful."
The slave master says, "Useless is more like it!"
The slave master keeps smacking the slave and yelling, "Useless!" And criticizing everything about the slave and his driving of the cart.
This bad slave screws up everything and terrorizes his master.
The slave would rather die than be a slave.
The slave hopes that the master will grow so exasperated that the master will let him run free, or kill him.
Paul comes to town and gets thrown in prison, and broken out of jail by a supernatural earthquake.
Paul comes to the slave-master's house.
The slave-master's family is a total wreck:
his daughters are sluts;
his sons are drug addicts and robbers;
his wife is screwing the neighbor lady's husband.
The house is a wreck, dirty dishes piled everywhere.
The slave-master, drunk, thinking Paul is a robber, almost kills Paul, and holds Paul hostage in the house, each day saying he will kill Paul in the morning.
Paul, [note: in a similar manner to the robber in the movie The Ref] counsels the family.
The slave does everything wrong while Paul is staying in the slave-master's family house, spills hot coffee on Paul, burns Paul's food, washes Paul's clothes in acid.
The slave-master's daughters, wife, and a son try to seduce Paul sexually.
The sons try to get Paul hooked on drugs.
They confess sins that would make a sailor blush, tales of orgies, etc.
They lament that they have been so bad and they know they will burn forever in Hades as the lord of the underworld torments them with fire.
Paul says, "That Hades/hell concept of eternal conscious torment is Greek. It is not found anywhere in the Hebrew or Christian scriptures.
The slave-master's family say, so you believe in one God who is love, who never sends people to hell?
Paul says, "Well, YAHWEH is love, and he sends sinners who won't repent into a fire that burns them up like weeds. Everyone who will repent gets perfected and lives forever in bliss."
The slave-master's whole family accept salvation and change into sweet people and set Paul free.
Paul moves on to another town and gets thrown in jail.
Paul can't do anything in these chains, and really needs help in order to keep up the ministry.
Paul writes back to the slave-master for help.
The slave-master refuses to send anyone to help Paul.
The slave angers the slave master by being totally derelict in his duty, driving the slave-master's oxcart off of a cliff with a load of merchandise.
As the slave-master is about to kill the slave, Paul prays and at that moment the slave-master in unable to swing his sword, as if held back by an angel, and sends the useless slave to Paul.
The useless slave starts out as a total slacker, rude, a thorn in Paul's eye, trying to get Paul to fire him.
But slowly the slave starts to respond to Paul's encouragement and guidance.
Paul uncovers that the slave is useless because his parents abused and emotionally berated him, punishing him for doing right, so he is emotionally locked up.
And the slave is hoping that the master will just forget about him so he can run away.
"Useless" changes heart and starts helping Paul.
Though Paul desperately needs help,
Paul writes back to the Slave-Master and asks, very politely, for the slave-master to set "Useful" free.
"Useful" goes back with the note.
The slave-master goes through the roof, screaming. [note: Similar to the fits of the father in Fiddler On The Roof.]
But finally the slave-master relents, gives "Useful" a house, and Useful helps the slave-master better as a neighbor and brother than he ever did as a slave.
1 Hello, dearly beloved co-worker Philemon! It's me, Paul with brother Timothy. [We're writing to you on some smuggled papyrus, instead of coming to see you as we wanted, because the worldly "authorities" illegally beat us and threw us] in prison for [terrifying the rich religious hypocrites by telling the city about] Yahshua, YAH's MessiYah, [the Redeemer who will throw the hypocrites into the eternal fire and smash the Nations under His feet!]
2 Philemon, share this letter with our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the Ekklesia who gather where you live:
3 We pray that YHVH our Father and Adonai Yahshua (the Messiah) will give you grace and peace.
4 Every time your name comes up in my prayers, I say, 'Oh, thank you, Elohim!'
5 People tell me of the love and faith you live out for Adonai Yahshua and all His Holy Ones;
6 I pray that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up, teaching us and others all we need to learn from the good things that Yahshua puts in us and every good work the MessiYah does through us.
7 Your love has given us much joy and encouragement. Brother, you have refreshed the hearts of YAH's holy ones.
8 Your record of loving action makes it unnecessary for me to exercise my authority and boldly command you, by the authority of the Messiah, to do right things.
9 Still, for love's sake I have a "request" for you. Not a "command" as an apostle. Just a favor for this old man Paul, a prisoner for Yahshua the MessiYah.
[Free your slave.]
10 My request to you concerns your slave Onesimus, who you sent to help me. Your slave is now my "son." I became his "father" while here in bondage in prison.
11 Your slave's name means "useful," and although you sent him to me because he was useless to you, he has now become very helpful — to you and to me;
12 I am sending your slave --who is my very heart-- back to you. So receive and welcome him.
13 I wanted to keep your slave with me in your place, to be my hands and feet [while I remain] in chains for [heralding] the Good News.
14 But I will not command you to free your slave against your consent. Your goodness must be [motivated by your own] free will, not by my force.
15 It may be that your slave was away from you for a short time [to be reborn] so that you could live with him for eternity, [as brothers.]
16 He was your slave, but now is a beloved brother, especially to me, and moreso to you, both physically and in [spiritual union with] the Adonai!
17 So if you are in fellowship with me, welcome your old "useless" ex-slave as you would welcome me, [your brother and spiritual leader.]
18 If your slave has ever wronged you, or owes you anything, charge me for it.
19 I Paul have written this with my own hand: I will repay all the debts of your slave. (Please, as payment for your slave, consider that you may owe me your very life.)
As, at least, the messenger who brought the news of salvation.
20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you that comes from Adonai. [Free your slave.] Refresh my heart [by connecting with the forgiveness of] Adonai.
21 I write to you, having confidence in your obedience, knowing that you will do even beyond what I say.
22 Also, prepare guest lodgings for me, for I hope that through your prayers I will be [supernaturally broken out of jail] and restored to you.
23 Greetings from Epaphras, my fellow prisoner [who is, with us, in the "Body"] of Yahshua, the MessiYah;
24 Greetings from my fellow-laborers: Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, and Lucas.
25 I pray that grace of our Adonai Yahshua, [the] MessiYah stays with your spirit. Amén.