This is a personal letter written by Paul while in prison in Rome.  60 AD

It was sent the same time as Ephesians and Colossians.



It is addressed to Philemon who lived in Colossae in Asia Minor.

Philemon was apparently wealthy because:

            a)  the large number of slaves he owned

            b)  the church met in his house. (verse 2)

Philemon had heard Paul, though Paul had not yet been to Colossae.

It is likely that Philemon had heard Paul during Paul’s three year stay in Ephesus.

Apphia was Philemon’s wife (2)

Archippus was his son or the missionary elder that started the church.  He is mentioned in

            Colossians 4:17.  He may have been the pastor of the Colossian church that met in

            Philemon’s house.



To beg a wealthy believer named Philemon to take back a runaway slave.

Onesimus was a slave that had run away from Philemon and had stolen from him before he left. (18)



Onesimus had met Paul while he was in prison.

Onesimus had come to the Lord while he was with Paul

Onesimus had spent enough time with Paul to be “helpful” to him.


Paul realized that Onesimus had a responsibility to Philemon.

Onesimus needed to make restitution for his stealing.

Tychicus most likely carried the letter and Onesimus went along.

Philemon is told not to treat Onesimus as a run away slave but as a brother in Christ (15-16; see also Col.4:9 and Gal.3:28)



The life-changing power of the gospel to reach into the varied social conditions of society and change our relationships from bondage to brotherhood


Christ in Philemon

Onesimus, guilty of a great offense                                 1:11,18

Paul motivated by love intercede on his behalf 1:10-17

Paul lays aside his rights                                       1:8

Paul becomes Onesimus’ substitute                               1:19-20

Philemon’s gracious act restores Onesimus                  1:15-16

Onesimus has a new relationship with Philemon         1:15-16

Onesimus, though condemned by law, was saved by grace