PHILEMON WAS a believer belonging to the congregation at Colosse in Asia Minor. He appears to have been a wealthy man, for we know that he had at least one slave. From Rome, Paul wrote a   letter to Philemon, as well as one to Colosse; from the letter to the Colossians (4:8).

it would appear that Tychicus was the bearer of both letters and that Onesimus accompanied him on his journey from Rome to Colosse. This letter begins by commending Philemon for his faith and love towards Jesus Christ, and his kindness to the believers (verse 5).

Onesiums- the Slave

But then the letter appeals to Philemon to receive back his slave, Onesimus, who had escaped and run away to Rome. Whilst in Rome Onesimus had met Paul, who had taught him the good news of salvation in Christ. Onesimus (whose name means ‘useful’) should now be received back (verse 16). He had become ‘useful to you and to me’ (verse 11)—useful to Paul the prisoner in Rome, to Philemon, and above all to Christ! Philemon will surely have reacted graciously to Paul’s kindly letter, and will have welcomed back Onesimus— not only as a slave but also as a brother.

Who Is Your Master?

We are not useful by nature, but we can be received by Christ upon our acceptance of the true Gospel. We have to be willing to obey his commands. It is far better to be a servant of Christ, than a servant of sin (see Romans 6:17). This is true freedom!

Norman Owen

By kind permission of ‘The Christadelphian’

Some interesting links with other parts of the Bible:
  • Philemon verse 3—see Romans 3:24.
  • Philemon verse 10—see Colossians 4:7–9.
  • Philemon verse 16—see Romans 14:18; Ephesians 6:9; Titus 1:1.
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