Who was Philemon in the Bible

Philemon, The letter to - Bible lexicon

No more is known about Philemon than what is found in the present letter, nor is it clearly stated where he was domiciled. The similarity of the greetings with those from the letter to the Colossians and the mention of Onesimus in this letter lead to the conclusion that Philemon probably lived in Colossae, and that both letters were sent from Rome around AD 62. Although the meeting in Philemon's house is mentioned in Phlm 2, it is a personal letter to Philemon and his wife.

Onesimus, their slave, had run away and, being converted through the ministry of Paul, was sent back to his master by the latter. Paul is not asking for freedom for Onesimus, but that he should now be welcomed like one Brotherseven like Paul himself. Paul does not assert apostolic authority, but pleads urgently as the "prisoner" and "the old man". Directed by the Holy Spirit, the letter is a benevolent appeal and it addresses difficulties in a matter that required great tact. If the slave had robbed Philemon, Paul would repay; but he reminds Philemon how much he does him was guilty, even "himself".

It may surprise some that such a letter should be part of the inspired word. But it is "useful": for fifteen centuries, Christians largely owned slaves. Many may never have thought of converting them or were even prejudiced against them. A Boer in South Africa once told a preacher, despite being a Christian himself, that he was certain he could preach to dogs as well as his African servants. God saw the need for such a letter. The slave had become "a beloved brother."