Understanding the 40 Parables of Jesus Christ: Learn from the greatest teacher Jesus Christ. The gospel taught in stories.

Summary of Philemon

Jesus Christ Messiah-of-God.com

Author: Paul

Audience: Philemon, as well as Apphia, Archippus, and church

Subject: Release Onesimus from slavery

Chapters: 1

Paul's letter to Philemon has a lot of discussion of slavery and prison, because Paul writes this letter to ask for the freedom of Philemon's slave, named Onesimus.

In Paul's other letters, he makes statements indicating that Christ transcends all methods of segregation, such as when he says, "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

However, Paul also gives recommendations in his letters for how slaves ought to behave towards their masters. The reason behind these recommendations can be found when Paul discusses why we should obey governing authorities (Romans 13; Peter also discusses this in 1 Peter 2), which is so that we are not viewed as evildoers.

Nevertheless, this short letter to Philemon for the release of the slave Onesimus makes it clear where Paul truly stands on the issue of slavery.

Summary of Philemon 1

Paul introduces himself, noting that he is "a prisoner of Christ Jesus." (Philemon 1:1) Paul explains his gratitude for the church in Philemon's house, and speaks of his prayers regarding the church. He then moves to his point, saying he has a request, again reminding them that he is "an old man" and "a prisoner of Christ Jesus." (Philemon 1:9)

He calls Onesimus his spiritual child (as he has called many of the believers who have come to know Christ through him; example: 1 Corinthians 4:14-15), and he says that he wanted to keep Onesimus with him in Philemon's place.

However, he wanted to get Philemon's permission beforehand "in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced." (Philemon 1:14) Paul now pleads with Philemon to consider Onesimus "no longer as a slave but...a beloved brother..." (Philemon 1:16)

Paul even says to charge any dept Onesimus owes to himself, but then he says, "I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self." (Philemon 1:19) He then gives his farewell, instructing Philemon to be prepared for a visit from him.

Concluding Summary of Philemon

When Paul writes to Philemon, asking for Onesimus to be set free of slavery, Paul first appears to flatter Philemon and then appears to use a little sarcasm and self-fulling prophecy (by saying that he expects that Philemon will be obedient to his request).

Paul almost seems a little threatening when he asks for them to prepare for him to visit; at the very least, he is authoritative about his request to release Onesimus from slavery.

← Back to Summary of New Testament Letters from Summary of Philemon

← Back to Pauline Epistles: New Testament Letters Written by Paul

Go to Messiah of God Home

Understanding the 40 Parables of Jesus Christ: Learn from the greatest teacher Jesus Christ. The gospel taught in stories.

Like and Share this Page


  1. Biology of Cell confirms Intelligent Design: Irreducible Complexity

    The complex biology of the ‘basic cell’ exhibits what has been termed ‘irreducible complexity’ by biochemist Michael Behe, due to the fact that removing even...

    Read More

  2. What is love? It's a call to action.

    What is love? It's a call to action. Guest post by Ben Byrum.

    Read More

  3. Miraculous Physical Healing Explains Salvation: The Truth of Jesus’ Salvation

    If you have stage 4 pancreatic cancer, then with current medical technology you have likely not been given any hope for getting better. Your cancer is terminal. In fact, with many diseases...

    Read More

  4. Does Science Argue For or Against God?

    Probability of the Universe Existing in Coin Flips: Flipping a coin has a 50/50 chance of heads vs tails. How many times do you think you could flip heads in a row with a 50/50 chance?

    Read More

  5. Man Finds Single Ominous Bible Page in Wildfire Aftermath

    Wildfires in Tennessee have temporarily displaced thousands of people fleeing from the destruction. Over 100 homes have been destroyed, as well as hotels and businesses. Thus far, seven people...

    Read More

  6. How to Obey God's Will

    Obeying God's will is actually more simple than it seems. The truth is that some actions are good (holy), some actions are bad (sinful), and the majority of actions are completely neutral...

    Read More

  7. Doubting After God Answers Your Prayers

    Having God answer your prayers can result in overwhelming feelings of joy, relief, and thankfulness. However, sometimes doubt of God's intervention can appear and begin to steal your confidence...

    Read More

  8. How to Prove God Exists

    For unbelievers, there are only a few ways to prove that God exists, depending on how willing they are to accept God's existence. For unbelievers who are...

    Read More

  9. The Lie of Sanctification

    Sanctification is a widely accepted belief that bridges the gap between the biblical mandate for obedience to God and the practical application of living a Christian life as...

    Read More

  10. God's Definition of Perfect

    "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." One of the problems with modern Christianity is the mainstream concept that "It is impossible to be perfect."

    Read More