Memory Verse
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Philemon 15–16

The letter to Philemon shows how love works in the church when someone is wronged. Can there be love when someone steals from another church member or wrongs them in some way? Onesimus, the slave of Philemon in Colossae, was an unfaithful servant, a deserter, and an ungrateful thief who ran away from his master, Philemon. Can there be love between Philemon, a prominent and wealthy man with a church in his house, and Onesimus, a runaway slave?

Hymn: Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
Sheet Music
Top 5 Facts to Remember

The book of Philemon was likely written between 62 A.D.

Internal evidence, found in both Colossians and Philemon, indicate that Philemon was a resident of Colossae. 

Philemon and Colossians were likely written and sent together.

The letter of Philemon takes the concept of reconciliation with God in Colossians and applies it to the personal reconciliation of two individuals.

Philemon is Paul’s shortest letter – only 335 words in Greek. 

Theme: Forgiveness and Restoration

In Philemon, God is glorifying Himself through forgiveness and restoration, so that He might demonstrate His superior goodness in the salvation sinners, the damnation of the wicked, and for the preservation of His people, for His eternal glory, and their eternal joy.

Author: Paul

“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother” 

Philemon 1:1

“Yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ” 

Philemon 1:9

“I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides” 

Philemon 1:19

Audience: Philemon

“To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house” 

Philemon 1:1–2

Key Verses:

“I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”

Philemon 1:4–6

“I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.”

Philemon 1:10–11

“If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides. Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord.”

Philemon 1:17–20

  1. The gospel is for all classes, even slaves.
  2. We should always be willing to forgive those who have wronged us.
  3. Paul teaches us that it is often better to appeal to, rather than command those who are under our authority.
  1. Introductory Greetings (Philem. 1–3)
  2. Prayers of Thanksgiving (Philem. 4–7)
  3. Paul’s Request - The Plea for Onesimus (Philem. 8–20)
  4. Paul Announces His Desire to Visit Philemon (Philem. 21–22)
  5. A Personal Farewell Full of Love and Blessing (Philem. 23–25)
Study Questions

Who was Philemon?
A friend and fellow laborer with Paul (Philem. 1:2).

Who was Onesimus?
Philemon’s slave (Philem 1:16).

What happened to Onesimus when he was with Paul?
He was converted (Philem. 1:10).

Why did Paul want to keep Onesimus?
To minister to him and with him (Philem. 1:13).

How was Philemon told to treat his servant Onesimus? 
As a beloved brother (Philem. 1:16).

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