The short, often overlooked book of Philemon is tucked towards the end of the New Testament, nestled between letters to Titus and to the Hebrews.
Philemon and Onesimus
Philemon is a letter written by Paul to his friend Philemon about a man of mutual interest, Onesimus.
The short version is that Onesimus is a slave who runs away from his master, Philemon. Onesimus meets Paul, who tells him about Jesus, mentors him, and encourages him to do the right thing by returning to his master.
To help facilitate the reunion, Paul jots a quick note to Philemon, which has been preserved for us in the Bible.
Philemon and Others
In addition to Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus, there are eight other names mentioned in this brief correspondence: Timothy, Apphia, Archippus, Epaphras, Aristarchus, Mark, Demas, and Luke. For each there is a story to be told and insight to be gained.
Philemon and Jesus
Of course, Jesus is also rightly mentioned in Paul’s letter to Philemon, a total of six times. Jesus is actually the central character in this story, for it all revolves around him, not Philemon and Onesimus.
Is Jesus the central character in your story? Does your life all revolve around him?
[Read Philemon in the Bible.]
Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.