(Φιλήμων, affectionate), a Christian to whom Paul addressed his epistle in behalf of Onesimus. A.D. 57. He was a native probably of Colosse, or at all events lived in that city when the apostle wrote to himi; first, because Onesimus was a Colossian (Col 4:9); and, secondly, because Archippus was a Colossian (verse 17), whom Paul associates with Philemon at the beginning of his letter (Phm 1:1-2). Wieseler (Chronologic, page 452) argues, indeed, from Col 4:17, that Archippus was a Laodicean; but the εἴπατε in that passage on which the poilnt turns refers evidently to the Colossians (of whom Archippus was one therefore), and not to the Church at Laodicea spoken of in the previous verse, as Wieseler inadvertently supposes. Theodoret (Proaem. in Epist. ad Phil.) states the ancient opinion in saying that Philemon was a citizen of Colossme, and that his house was pointed out there as late as the 5th century. The legendary history supplies nothing on which we can rely. It is related that Philemon became bishop of Colossae (Constit. Apost. 7:46), and died as a martyr under Nero. From the title of" fellow-workman" (συνεργός) given him in the first verse, some (Michaelis, Einleit. 2:1274) make him a deacon, but without proof. But, according to Pseudo- Dorotheus, lie had been bishop in Gaza (see Witsius, Mliscel. Leidens. page 193 sq.). The Apphia mentioned in the epistle was nearly connected with Philemon, but whether or not she was his wife there are no means of determlining (comp. esp. Hofmann, Introd. in Epist. ad Colos. page 52 sq.; Bertholdt, Einleit. 6:3631 sq.). It is apparent from the letter to him that Philemon was a man of property and influence, since he is represented as the head of a numerous household, and as exercising an expensive liberality towards his friends and the poor in general. He was indebted to the apostle Pa!l as the medium of his personal participation in the Gospel. All interpreters agree in assigning that significance to σεαυτ ν μοι προσοφείλεις in Phm 1:19. It is not certain under what circumstances they became known to each other. If Paul visited Colosse when he passed through Phrygia on his second missionary journey (Ac 16:6), it was undoubtedly there, and at that time, that Philemon heard the Gospel and attached himself to the Christian party. On the contrary, if Paul never visited that city in per son, as many critics infer from Col 2:1, then the best view is that he was converted during Paul's protracted stay at Ephesus (Ac 19:10), A.D. 51-54. That city was the religious and commercial capital of Western Asia Minor. The apostle labored there with such success that "all they who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus." Phrygia was a neighboring province, and among the strangers who repaired to Ephesus, and had an opportunity to hear the preaching of Paul, may have been the Colossian Philemon. It is evident that on becoming a disciple, he gave no common proof of the sincerity and power of his faith. His character, as shadowed forth in the epistle to him, is one of the noblest which the sacred record makes known to us. He was full of faith and good works, was docile, confiding, grateful, was forgiving, sympathizing, charitable, and a man who on a question of simple justice needed only a hint of his duty to prompt him to go even beyond it (ὑπὲρ ὃ λέγω ποιήσεις.). Anly one who studies the epistle will perceive that it ascribes to him these varied qualities; it bestows on him a measure of commendation which forms a striking contrast with the ordinary reserve of the sacred writers. It was through such believers that the primitive Christianity evinced its divine origin, and spread so rapidly among the nations. SEE PAUL.

Bible concordance for PHILEMON.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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