Philemon was a lay leader in the church at Colossae. This letter concerns a slave he owned named Onesimus (v. 10). Onesimus had run away but, coming into the company of Paul, had become converted.
Paul is now sending Onesimus back, along with this letter. It is a personal appeal to Philemon, to treat his slave as a Christian brother. The social influence of the Gospel is evident, in both the example of Paul and his entreaty.
Unlike many NT epistles, few modern scholars doubt the authenticity of Philemon: “No serious objection stands in the way of receiving this letter as genuine” (Martin, 153).
Philemon has close connections with Colossians. Both letters include greetings from Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke (see vv. 23-24). Archippus, who is given a special word of instruction in Col 4:17, is one of the persons addressed in Philemon (v. 2). Onesimus likewise is named in both letters, as being sent back by Paul to Colossae (vv. 11-12; cf. Col 4:9). Most probably, Philemon was written and sent at the same time as Colossians—while Paul was a prisoner in Rome, ca. a.d. 62.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Upgrade to remove banner ads and unlock new features!
You've successfully created your account! For the best Bible Gateway experience, consider an upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus. For less than the cost of a latte each month, you'll get reduced banner ads and a huge digital Bible study library. Try it free for 30 days!