Philemon is the 18th book in the New Testament. It is a short letter written by Paul to a Christian named Philemon who lived in Colosse.
Philemon had a slave named Onesimus who had run away, and either by design or by accident, met up with Paul in Rome. Paul converts Onesimus to Christianty, and convinces him to return to Philemon. But to ease the return Paul wrote a letter to Philemon, to ask him to receive Onesimus back as a Christian brother, rather than as a slave. Onesimus means "useful," and Paul plays on words in verse 11 - "Onesimus hasn't been of much use to you in the past, but now he is going to be real use to both of us".
This short book shows that no one, not even a runaway slave, is beyond the work of God. If anyone trusts in Christ he will become a new person. It also showed that the ancient barriers of class distinctions, and class hatred, are being broken down by the Gospel, Philemon and Onesimus are now Christian brothers. In time, the whole system of slavery collapsed under the weight of Christian teaching.
Next person in the Bible: Philip the Apostle
Go to: List of people in the Bible
Go to: Women in the Bible