There is another wonderful confirmation of the nine books of the New Testament that are addressed to Gentile Churches or Gentiles. This pattern of these nine books inserted in the midst of books written to Jews or dealing with Jewish subjects shows that the Lord has been and will deal with the Jews and all the Children of Israel. But out of His wonderful graciousness, the Lord included Gentiles in His Plan.
This middle group of nine books is a picture of Gentile Christianity, sandwiched in the middle of the relation between God and His chosen people. This group also illustrates the saying of Jesus, “The first will be last and the last, first.” (Mark 10:31) The Hebrew people, later known as Jews, received the Word of God first, but will be the last to fully understand and benefit from it.
The nine “Gentile” books conclude with the little Book of Philemon. We have already shown the markers of Isaiah 48:22 and 57:21 that set these nine books apart. But the Book of Philemon shows us another wonderful concluding indicator.
Written by Paul while he was in prison, this book addresses a Brother-in-Christ, Philemon, who had a slave, Onesimus. Onesimus had apparently run away from his owner and was with Paul in Rome. He was sent home by Paul with a letter declaring him to be like a son. Paul urges Philemon to treat Onesimus as a brother, rather than a slave. Paul also offered to pay the debts of Onesimus.
The name Onesimus, who was useless to his owner when he ran away, means “useful” and he is a type of the Church. We were of little use before we received Salvation and the Lord included us in His spiritual family. Now we are family members, Children of God, and are useful for whatever His plan may be for each of us.
In this book, Paul is a type, or picture, of Jesus. He petitioned Philemon that he would forgive the sins of Onesimus. Jesus is our advocate before the Lord. (First John 2:1) Paul offered to pay any debts of Onesimus. Jesus paid all of our debts.
The story in Philemon is a beautiful picture of the Church being sent Home to Heaven. We are servants or slaves, formerly useless like Onesimus. Because of Jesus, who speaks well of us before the Lord, we are directed toward our Home in Heaven, our debts paid.
This book, and its location in the midst of books written to Jews, is also a picture of the Church being snatched up (Greek – harpazo), or “raptured,” to the Lord. The placement of this story indicates that the Church will be raptured before the events of the Revelation which, in the pattern given us, are addressed to the Jews.
I do not wish ill of the Jewish people, but the Apostle Paul says they have been blinded “until the full number of the Gentiles come in.” (Romans 11:25) The Lord Jesus said, “For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matthew 23:39) When the Church is called Home, the time will come when the Jewish people call for the Lord Jesus, and He will come and save them.