The Picture of Real Church

Bible Book: Philemon  1 : 2-7
Subject: Church Life; Christian Living; Philemon
Series: Postcards from Prison

Philemon 1:2-7 (KJV), “And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: 3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, 5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; 6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.”

In this passage we realize that not all churches are big bright and becoming on the outside. A real church has beauty on the inside and is not evaluated on its splendor but on its spirituality.

The Simplicity of this Church

a. The simplicity of its placement
b. The simplicity of its prominence The Spirituality of this Church
c. Alluring in their love
d. Active in their faith

I. The Intimacy of this Church

I believe that we may have missed the mark in this day and age, for we often think of the church as brick and mortar. The value of a church is due to its outward look and its outward beauty. The common man understands the church to be a local building that has a big steeple sitting on top and stained glass windows. If we view this as the definition of a church, then we have mightily missed the mark. The local church in many countries is still located in someone’s house. The church in this particular setting was found in the house of Philemon.

A. The Preciousness of this Church

Paul realized how precious this church was and how instrumental it would be in reaching people in the city of Colossae. I wonder how much value we really place upon the local church. It is one of the most precious things that could ever be set up in a local community. The church is God’s venue for mobilizing his people to do the kingdom work. I owe my all to the local church, for it was in the church that I realized and experienced real love. I perceive the church to be precious and priceless in my life and in the life of my family. The church is more precious than silver or gold, its value i1s priceless.

B. The People of this Church

The people of this church were appreciated in the life and ministry of Paul. In this opening section he allows time to recognize a few of the people that were located in the church at Philemon’s house.

1. Philemon

The Bible does not say what the role of Philemon was in the church which was located in his own house. It has been suggested that Philemon may have been a laymen in this church. If that is the case, it even adds greater honor to his life, because he faithfully served without regard to title or official role. It may also be noted that he was a tender man of generous affection and affluence in the church. Philemon would have been a man noted for great love for the church.

2. Apphia

It has been suggested that Apphia was the bride of Philemon. If we look at her name we would realize that she was not a woman of Colossae, but of Phrygian descent. In looking at her name she was a very fruitful woman.

3. Archippus

Paul acknowledged Philemon to be a fellow laborer, which represented their common work in the kingdom of God. Paul acknowledged Archippus to be a fellow soldier, which probably represented their common calling as ministers in the kingdom of God. It very well could be suggested that Archippus was an elder or leader in the church in Philemon’s house. It must be that he was a man of noted skills and prominence in his work.

C. The Place of this Church

The church was located in the house of Philemon in the city of Colossae. The local church need not be noted for its outward splendor but for its inner spirituality and its faith and love.

D. The Perseverance of this Church

I believe that Paul had much affection for this local flock because that had often stood with him in the work and in the war.

1. Fellow Laborers’ In the Faith with Paul

If Paul needed some help in fulfilling the work, he could count on the church that was located in the house of Philemon. It is not hard for the minister to compile a list of those that are willing to do the work.

2. Fellow Soldiers’ In the Fight with Paul

The fight was often hard and harsh, but Paul had allies in the house of Philemon. Archippus had often stood side by side in the fight with Paul. The man of God must have spiritual allies that will be committed to help him in the fight. Paul mentioned these people as he penned this personal letter to Philemon, his friend.

II. The Identity of this Church

In reality every church has their personal identification and so it was with the church in Colossae. The church was noted for their faith and their love. It must also be manifested that this church not only had a love for God, but administered this same love to their fellow man. The real church will have their focus on two distinct areas, one focus is Godward and the second focus is man-ward.

A. Distinct in their Love and Faith towards the Savior

It is much easier to flourish in our work if we focus our love and faith towards our heavenly father. The Christian that focuses his interest and intent towards the heavenly will find the way more fulfilling and fruitful.

B. Distinct in their Love and Faith towards the Saints

The local church in Colossae also had a heart for their fellow man; this is truly the mark of a great church. This church had an identity to be proud of in that they not only loved God but also their community. The local church that ignores their community has ignored the wrong thing, this must not be so!

III. The Involvement of this Church

The church in the house of Philemon was making an impact and Paul wanted to acknowledge this in his letter. The church was actively involved in helping others and this was wonderful and joyful in the eyes of Paul.

A. Involved in Doing a Good Job

The local church should mimic Jesus in that he went about doing well; if it was good enough for him it should be good enough for us. The best type of church work is that which is good and becoming of the kingdom of God.

B. Involved in Displaying a Great Joy

The apostle of God wanted the church to know that they had caused him much joy and rejoicing. Is this not the desire of every pastor in the ministry of God? Do we not desire that the news that we receive is news that causes us to rejoice? I dare say that this is the most refreshing of any news, that the local church is conducting itself to bring about great joy.


I hope that we will take a good look at our view of the local church. We must get past the outward walls and look into the very inner workings and the heart of the local church.