In the Greeting and Thanksgiving section sections of Paul’s letter to Philemon, there are strong hints that the concept of community plays a significant role in the text. These literary sections, occurring prior to the primary Request made by Paul of Philemon, are instrumental in establishing the historical context as well as the literary one.
Paul does not merely say, “Dear Philemon, _____, Love, Paul.” Rather, he writes from himself and Timothy, later mentioning others caring for him while in prison. And he points to past joint labor (not koinonia, but something similar) with Philemon and Apphia, and Archippus, making special note of the group of Christians that meets in their home. Throughout the letter, a sense of partnership, of community, of sharing in the cause of Christ pervades.
My parents are visiting for a few days. We share love. There is a different sense of “community” in our home right now.
We’re setting out in the few minutes to share in community with some new friends in a fellowship near Honeoye Falls.
Tonight, we eagerly anticipate the friends that will gather in our home for study of Philemon, and for worship, for mutual, caring support, and for general, familial good time together.
God, be in our heads and senses of understanding; and in our hearts. God, live in our spirits. God, be in our Christian gatherings.