This is a personal letter
written by Paul while in prison in
It was sent the same time as Ephesians and Colossians.
It is addressed to Philemon
who lived in
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
It is likely that Philemon
had heard Paul during Paul’s three year stay in
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
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
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