In studying the short letter to Philemon, we’ve looked at the central players of Paul (the author), Philemon (the recipient), and Onesimus (the subject).
There are also brief mentions of eight others: Timothy, Apphia, Archippus, Epaphras, Aristarchus, Luke, John-Mark, and Demas.
The foundational character, however, is Jesus. He is mentioned more often than any other in this letter, a total of six times.
The reality is that without Jesus, none of this matters. He is the ultimately the reason why this letter was written and he is the reason why each person was mentioned.
Without Jesus, Paul would not have been a missionary; without Jesus, Onesimus would have no desire to return to his master; and without Jesus, Philemon would have no reason to show mercy and offer forgiveness. And it is because of Jesus that each of the eight other characters are worthy of inclusion.
Jesus is the reason for the letter to Philemon—and the entire Bible. Without him, nothing else really matters.