The Book of Philemon

The Summary of Philemon

The book of Philemon is a Prison Epistle (letter written while in prison), which Paul wrote circa 61 A.D.

The key personalities of Philemon are Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus.

It was written to Philemon as a plea to request forgiveness for his runaway servant Onesimus, who was a new believer in Jesus Christ. The book of Philemon consists of only one chapter.

Verses 1-7 – Paul gives his greetings to Philemon and presents his appreciation and gratitude for Him as a brother and worker in Jesus Christ.

Philemon was most likely a wealthy member of the church in Colosse.

It seems Paul begins by softening up Philemon, as to prepare him initially, before mentioning Onesimus his runaway slave.

Philemon was apparently angry with his absent slave:

“That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Jesus Christ” (vs. 6).

Verses 8-25 – consist of Paul’s appeal for Onesimus,

“I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds” (vs. 10).

Onesimus had run away and traveled to Rome where he met Paul. While there, Onesimus surrendered his life to Christ.

Philemon, under Roman law, could execute his slave for fleeing however, Paul pleas with Philemon to accept his servant.

Paul goes one-step further and asks Philemon not only to accept his slave, but also to accept him as a brother in Christ and to overlook his faults and errors.

“For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him forever;

Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specifically to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?” (15-16).

Onesimus would carry this letter back and give it to Philemon. Onesimus is later mentioned at the end of the book of Colossians as a faithful and beloved brother.