Select Page



Dr. Grant C Richison


A.  Ignatius, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius confirm the canonicity of this brief book.

B.  It was also included in the canon of Marcion and in the Muratorian fragment.

C.  Letter affirms Paul as the author (1,9,19).

D.   Style and language is Pauline.

II.  DESIGNATION: Philemon, a wealthy Christian at Colosse (1,2,10). 


A.   Philemon was a wealthy businessman, owner of slaves and member of the Colossian church whom Paul led to Christ.

B.   Philemon’s slave Onesimus escaped to Rome absconding some of Philemon’s property. 

C.   Philemon’s slave Onesimus came into contact with Paul and became a Christian in Rome (Philemon 10).

D.   Onesimus was useful to Paul in the ministry but Paul sent him back to Philemon, his master with the request to forgive Onesimus. Paul offered to pay for any financial loss Philemon may have incurred. Paul hoped for the release of Onesimus shortly. 

E.   The slave was at the absolute mercy of the master.

IV.  MESSAGE: to show how Christians can mediate and communicate between each other even in interpersonal relationships within the context of difficult situations. 

V.  THEME: Intercession for a runaway slave. 

VI.  DATE: A.D. 62 during Paul’s house arrest in Rome.


The book of Philemon gives us insight into the social fabric of the New Testament church especially the relationship between masters and slaves within the same local church.

There may have been 60,000,000 slaves in the Roman Empire in the first century. 

Philemon is a personal but not a private letter.

This letter shows how Paul bridged social differences between masters and slaves. 

Philemon and Colossians are associated because they were written by Paul and dispatched by the same messengers. 

Paul does not sponsor slavery and neither does Christianity. He dealt with the social structure of the Roman Empire as it was. 

One chapter, 25 verses, 445 words in KJV. 

There are 5 one-chapter books in the Bible: Obadiah, Philemon, 2 John 3 John and Jude. 

Of the 21 epistles, six of them are personal (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, 2 John, 3 John and Philemon).

This is an unusual letter with a three-verse introduction and a three-verse conclusion.

5 people named in the introduction and 5 in the conclusion.

It is a prison epistle because Paul wrote it in prison. 

The epistle is unique in that it is a purely personal epistle with no explicit statement of doctrine or exhortation to Christian living. 

Philemon is an example of Christian communication. Paul delicately walks between two Christian men with courtesy to both.


Key verse: verse 17

Key word:  “Receive” 





Paul’s plea, 8-11

Paul’s purpose, 12-16

Paul’s appeal, 17

Paul’s proffer, 18-20

Paul’s poise, 21