Commentary on the Book of Philemon


The book was written around 62 AD during Paul first imprisonment in Rome. It is directed to Philemon, which means “kisses” or “one that is affectionate”, in behalf of Onesimus, which means “profitable” or “usefulness”. Philemon was the master of Onesimus, a runaway slave.

Verse 1. Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our beloved and fellow laborer, …

Why was Paul in prison and how did he get to Rome?

The Prophet Agabus predicted Paul’s imprisonment. But Paul was not deterred by the prediction and was willing to be imprisoned for preaching the gospel (Act 21:10-12). He was falsely accused of bringing an uncircumcised Greek into the temple and falsely accused of teaching against the law (Act 21:27- 40). Paul was arrested when a Captain in the Roman army saw that Paul’s life was in danger by the hands of his accusers, and was moved to send men to Paul’s rescue. Paul defended himself against the false accusations by telling the judge that he had formerly persecuted Christians, but now had become a Christian himself. A plot by some overzealous Jews was uncovered, and Paul, being a Roman citizen, was given extra protection from being assassinated (Act 22 and Act 23).

Verse 2. And to our beloved Appia and Archippus our fellow soldiers, and to the church in thy house.

Paul mentioned Apphia, which means “to produce” or “to be fruitful”. According to the Parallel Bible commentary, Apphia is believed to be Philemon’s wife. He also mentioned Archippus, which means “a governor or master of horses”. Archippus is a fellow solder in God’s army, and is believed to be their son. This letter shows how important family is to Paul.

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