Category: A group of biblical books that have a similar literary genre or main themes and have been placed together as a major section of the Bible.
Epistle: Letters that were commissioned from the original circle of Jesus’ apostles and sent to various Jesus communities around the ancient world.
Literary Style: A unique style of writing that follows recognized literary conventions and language patterns.
Prose Discourse: A speech that makes persuasive claims through a logical sequence of thought and clear patterns of rhetoric.
Letter: An ancient Jewish-Roman style letter, written to an individual or community, that seeks to persuade the readers to live consistently with the truths they have already embraced.
Paul helps his friend Philemon to reconcile with his escaped former slave Onesimus, and shows that they are equals because of Jesus.
Watch our Read Scripture video on the book of Philemon, which breaks down the literary design of the book and its flow of thought. There is one Read Scripture video dedicated to the book of Philemon, which aims to help you see its unique contribution to the story of Jesus, but also how it works within the Bible’s overall framework.
One of Paul's shortest and the most explosive letters, the book of Philemon demonstrates the gospel through action. It's written to Philemon whose slave Onesimus ran away and became a believer under Paul's teaching. Paul urges Philemon to forgive Onesimus and accept him back as an equal. Because they are both believers, God's grace and healing mercy have made them partners under the new humanity Jesus' established.
While Paul doesn't mention Jesus' death and resurrection directly in this book, he offers to take on any punishment Onesimus deserves, a demonstration of what Jesus did on the cross. He encourages Philemon to do the same as he reconciles to Onesimus before God.
Slave & Free
Philemon is a believer in Jesus and Paul's fellow worker. His slave Onesimus ran away but became a believer who ministers to Paul in prison.
Believers in Jesus must recognize and act on the truth that His followers are equal partners who share the gift of God's love and grace.
Paul asks Philemon to embrace God's new humanity, forgive his former slave Onesimus and welcome him back as a brother, partner and equal in Christ.
Gospel In Action
Paul willingly takes on any consequences of Onesimus' wrongdoing so that Onesimus and Philemon can reconcile before God and to each other as equal partners.
Paul ends the book of Philemon with an affirmation that he's confident Philemon will do what he requested and more regarding accepting and forgiving Onesimus.