Roles in God’s Kingdom

Stories of Transformation

Paul’s letter to Philemon is not a doctrinal treatise, it is a personal note between friends about a sensitive issue – restoring Onesimus. In this informal discourse, Paul naturally refers to a multitude of roles that mark followers of Jesus. Let’s read and find in bold what many of these roles are within this passage:


Paul, a prisoner [Living Sacrifice] of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother [Family] To Philemon our beloved brother [Family] and fellow worker [Kingdom Laborer], and to Apphia our sister [Family], and to Archippus our fellow soldier [Kingdom Warrior], and to the church in your house [Spiritual Leader]Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers [Intercessor]because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; [Pacesetter] and I pray [Intercessor] that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for the sake of Christ. For I have had great joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you [Encourager]

Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper [Spiritual Authority]yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you [Reconciler]—since I am such a person as Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner [Living Sacrifice] of Christ Jesus.

10 I appeal to you [Advocate], for my son Onesimus whom I fathered [Multiplier] in my imprisonment,11 who previously was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me [Restorer]12 I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, 13 whom I wanted to keep with me, [Sacrificial Servant] so that in your behalf he might be at my service in my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but I did not want to do anything without your consent [Reconciler], so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion, but of your own free will.

15 For perhaps it was for this reason that he was separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever [Mentor]16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother [Family], especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 If then you regard me as a partner [Teammate], accept him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account [Burden Bearer]19 I, Paul, have written this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well).

20 Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say [Inspirer]22 At the same time also prepare me a guest room [Host], for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner [Living Sacrifice] in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers [Kingdom Laborer]25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

That’s close to 20 roles listed within this brief book of the Bible. The value for DMM is drawn from the question, “Who helps new followers of Jesus see these roles, practice them, and ultimately train others to do the same?”

Coaches! All these roles (and others not listed) are important, and all of them take work. The Coach sets his/her eyes on full maturity and prayerfully decides which aspect of following Jesus to engage next.