This Week's Story

Onesimus, a slave to a man, cannot understand why Paul chooses to be a slave to Jesus Christ.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Onesimus: a new identity,
part four

Onesimus turned to leave but felt compelled to say to the prisoner Paul, “I would like to come back. Thank you for welcoming me.”

He began walking fast along the Tiber River. He looked curiously at slums and luxurious homes with garden-parks. Floating in the river he saw dead bodies. A man on the street told him, “When criminals are executed, their bodies are thrown into the river.”

Onesimus thought: I could be a dead body floating in the river. I am a thief and a fugitive slave

Hours passed as he roamed the streets of Rome. He returned to the place he had slept the past two nights and paid for another night. His money was almost gone.

The next day he returned to Paul’s home. He was desperate for a job and hungry to hear more about Jesus. He was greeted and encouraged to come inside. Paul was speaking with co-workers. It was difficult to believe that Paul was a prisoner and chained to a Roman guard. He certainly was not isolated and rotting in a solitary cell.

Paul was saying, “The emperor can torture, try, free or sentence me to death, whenever he judges my case. For now, God gives us the resources to do what He directs us to do. We have a mission to share with all people the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Friends, be encouraged. Being a follower of Jesus is to love and obey Him. To die is to be with Him.”

Onesimus protested, “Then you are a slave!”

“I have chosen to be a slave of Jesus. He also calls me His friend and loves me.”

“Why would you want to be a slave?”

“Onesimus, I am persuaded that Jesus was crucified as a payment for my sins. He was resurrected to prove that He has power over death and He is God. His spirit lives within me and each day gives me peace and understanding. When I study the words of Jesus and the Old Testament Scriptures, they help me to understand the uniqueness of Jesus.

“I have made three missionary journeys. Because Jews in Jerusalem brought false charges against me, I appealed to the emperor to hear my case. Before he calls me, I have the opportunities to obey the mission Jesus gave me.”

Onesimus felt walls collapsing in his mind. I heard words like these when I was with my master Philemon. I tried not to hear them. I have escaped from my master but not from this Jesus. Could it be that Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, and all the Roman gods whose temples I visit are phony gods? I do not think any of them would have been willing to be God and to be crucified for us. They are not servant types.

When lunch was served, Onesimus tried to not show how hungry he was. Paul asked, “Onesimus, do you have a job?”

“I do not. Though I now live in Rome, I moved here recently.”

“Would you be interested in a job preparing food for myself and guests, and doing cleaning work? I cannot pay you much, but your pay would include meals.”

Onesimus quickly nodded his “Yes!” and left Paul’s house.

This is Barbara Steiner with a fugitive with an uncertain destiny. Please return.

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