St Paul’s Letter to Philemon.


During his first Roman imprisonment Paul came to know a slave named Onesimus who had deserted his master Philemon, a wealthy Christian of Colossea in Phrygia. After the apostle had won the fugitive over to Christianity, he looked for a favourable opportunity to send him back to his master. This opportunity offered itself when he was dispatching a letter to the Colossians. Onesimus accompanied Paul’s messenger Tychicus. To Philemon the apostle addressed this touching appeal, entreating his friend to deal kindly with the runaway. 


Address, Greeting and Plea for Onesimus.


1.      A very different Onesimus is returning from the one who ran away, and Paul appeals to Philemon to treat the salve as a brother in Christ – as if he were the apostle himself. Philemon is under considerable pressure to do as he asks: Paul points out that he could have dictated where his duty lay, but prefers to make a request on the basis of love. His description of himself as an old man, a prisoner, tugs at the heartstrings This letter provides the clearest evidence of how Paul would deal with slavery within the community of Christ – and he intends the Christian community to be an example of what the world should be like. Although Paul does not specifically address slavery as an institution, his requirement lays a depth charge beneath it. Philemon 1:1-20.


Hopes, Greetings and Blessings.


2.      Is Paul begging Philemon to emancipate Onesimus? He hints that Philemon should allow Onesimus to return to work for him. Paul uses the conventions of the day: a gift given requires a gift in return. Hence his appeal. Paul hopes for his own speedy release from prison.

         Philemon 1:21-25.