Bible Topics
in the Christian Library
Have You Seen The "Bible Man"?

Philemon 4-7

John L. Kachelman, Jr. 


I. The following poem serves to comment on the devout believer who is steadfastly following God's Word. 


by Carl H. Bates 

He stands behind the sacred desk, 

A book held in his hand; 

And as he speaks his brethren know 

He is a Bible Man. 

Upon the Scriptures, right truth, 

He ever takes his stand 

To make the gospel clear and plan ­ 

He is a Bible Man. 

He loves the grand old Book divine,

He loves to preach the plan; 

He loves the lost its message saves ­ 

He is a Bible Man. 

Let skeptics doubt heathen rage, 

And build their hopes on sand, 

He loves, lives, teaches God's Book ­ 

He is a Bible Man. 

When worlds shall end stars shall fall, 

And at the throne we stand; 

How sweet to hear the King's command, 

Come home ­ you Bible Man. 

II. To be known as a "Bible man/woman" is the greatest single compliment you will ever receive. It is a lovely way of commenting upon the kind of character that God loves that glorifies God on earth. Such was exemplified by Paul (Gal 2:20; 6:14) commanded by Inspiration (Philip 1:27). 

III. The person of Philemon illustrates a real "Bible man." He was a wealthy resident of Colossae who had been converted by Paul's preaching of the gospel (v.19). He is known as a fellow-worker (v.1). When you read what Paul writes about Philemon you know there was not a bone in his body that was not dedicated to Christ. As a "Bible man" his life accurately reflected divine Truth. 


I. The characteristics of the "Bible man" (4-7)

A. A Good Reputation (4)

1. Philemon's character was well known. News had spread all the way to Rome where in prison Paul had heard about Philemon's goodness. Whenever Philemon's name was mentioned it was greeted with high respect. 

2. "I hear of you" (5) ­ A record was being kept of Philemon the "Bible man" was totally unaware of its writing! A constant performance of little, seemingly insignificant kindnesses was the cause. The good done in Colossae was powerfully felt in Rome's prison. When Philemon "refreshed" others he thought nothing of how it would "refresh" Paul. 

3. A good reputation is an essential trait of the "Bible man's" character. The smallest deeds, good or bad, have an expanding influence on all around. Our action can either mar or beautify, gladden or sadden. 

4. His character was a constant source of thanksgiving for Paul. What a remarkable reputation? (1 Ths 1:7,8). 

a. His reputation for faith in love for Christ (5). 

b. His reputation for demonstration of faith love of brethren (5,7). 

c. His reputation for a dynamic life of faith (6). 

5. Paul had his special sources of information through which he heard wonderful things about Philemon. Such is true today ­ there are special sources through which our reputations become known to others. 

B. Cherished a deep faith love for the Lord (5)

1. "Faith" ­ a practice of trusting being confident in Christ; a reference to the Son's deity. 

2. "Love" ­ a practice of devoted affection from understanding what all Christ had done for him (Ro 8:28; 1 Co 8:3). 

3. These 2 elements united so that Philemon saw Christ as "the Lord." He admitted the absolute right of Christ to rule his life make demands on him. 

4. As the "Bible man" Philemon practiced a personal devotion to God because of gratitude, love, loyalty (Gal 2:20b). There were no questions about his devotion! 

C. Reveled in fellowship with brethren (5b)

1. Once again Paul had heard 2 things about Philemon's attitude toward his brethren. 

a. "Faith" ­ denotes the realm of fellowship with those of a like attitude; steadfastness confidence in others. 

b. "Love" ­ denoted affection to others; not the ordinary love found in the world. 

2. Philemon had demonstrated a practical Christianity in showing these 2 traits to brethren. His love was not a pretense but one demonstrated with specific actions (1 Ths 1:3). 

3. Note : "all" ­ Philemon was accepting of "all," regardless of who they were (Ro 10:12). No mere sentiments, no empty words or weak emotions (cf Jas 2:1,14-17). Such is the relish the "Bible man" has for fellowship with brethren! 

D. Yearned to communicate the gospel (6)

1. This is the hardest verse to interpret in Philemon. Its meaning depends on how the word KOINONIA is translated. 

2. "I pray that you will actively share your faith with a real understanding of every good thing which we have in Christ" (SEB). 

3. It seems that Philemon was anxious to share the gospel Word with others was able to do this via his generous good deeds. Once again the emphasis is on reputation character. Paul prays that Philemon's life of practical faith will "tell" all around him about Christ. As others saw him they would gain a truer insight to the gospel message power (Gal 5:6; 1 Pt 2:12). 

4. The "Bible man" yearns to teach the gospel Word. But he realizes that some will not read the Bible's pages, so he presents them a Bible in "living life" to study. And so communicates the gospel. 

E.. Brought happiness (7)

1. What a lovely epitaph! How wonderful to be forever remembered this way! 

2. "Refreshed" ­ lit. brought to rest; relieved of distresses, pressing cares, or sorrows. 

3. "Hearts" ­ speaks of the person at the deepest, inner-level, the center of our emotions feelings. 

4. Whenever a tired Christian, harassed by the world, came to Philemon's house he would leave refreshed, rested ready to combat Satan again! 

II. The challenges of becoming a "Bible man."

A. We are challenged to respond to the gospel as Philemon did. Let the gospel's power so control our lives that we will be "transformed" (Col 3:10; Ro 12:2). Such is not "unrealistic" (1 Co 15:58). 

B. We are challenged to emulate Philemon's 5 traits ­ 

1. What about your reputation? How do others look at you? (Philip 2:15; Pr 22:1). 

a. A good reputation ought not be assaulted (Dt 23:13-19). There is an account of a certain tribe of savages who think that once they kill a man they are immediately endowed with all his good qualities. Murderers are quite common in the tribe it is a very dangerous thing for a man of good merit to be found unguarded among people of such principles. Such is true of the one who assaults the reputation of another. 

b. A good reputation must be guarded (Ps 57:7; 1 Pt 2:11,12). A Turk, it is said, took a piece of white cloth to a dyer to have it dyed black. He was so pleased with the result that after a time he went to him with a piece of black cloth asked to have it made white. But the dyer answered: "A piece of white cloth is like a man's reputation; it can be dyed black, but you cannot make it white again." 

2. What about your faith love ... 

a. Toward Christ? An old saint was speaking about the pillars of our faith; he was a sailor and was speaking to a group on board a ship. There were several large posts on the nearby dock to which ships were usually secured by throwing a cable over them. They would hold the ship secure in even the worst storm. Such is the security that Christ provides for the faithful. 

b. Toward brethren? A father asked his daughter one time why everyone loved her. "I don't know," she said, "unless it is because I love everybody." Those who show fellowship will be loved (Hb 13:1; Ps 55:14). 

3. What about your desire to communicate the gospel? Do you actively share your faith in an unpretentious manner so that those seeing you are impressed with the gospel's power? (1 Pt 2:12). 

4. Do you bring happiness to all? The basis for true happiness is an absolute trust upon God's care. The foundation of domestic happiness is faith in the virtue of its members; the foundation of political happiness is confidence in the integrity of men; the foundation for all happiness, temporal eternal, is reliance upon the goodness of God. Faith will make our disposition tolerance great (Ps 149:2,5; Ro 5:2,11; 3 Jn 4). 

Conclusion :

I. Cite last stanza from poem (Mt 25:34; Rv 7:14b-17). 

II. Look at a mirror ­ do you see a "Bible man/woman" looking back? Do others look at your life see one who is dedicated devoted to God? Do they see "Philemon"? (Philip 1:27)

Copyright 1998 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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