In this Epistle after the salutation and the thanksgiving to God for Philemon1s faith and love, and prayer for his further growth in grace, Apostle Paul comes to the Central theme of the letter. Onesimus, a slave belonging to Philemon, ran away from his master at Colossae, after having apparently committed theft.
He found his way to the metropolis Rome, where he came in contact with Apostle Paul and was converted to Christ under his influence and ministry. Paul there upon sents him back to his lawful owner with this personal letter of recommendation of his favour to be delivered to Philemon. He pleaded with Philemon to receive back the penitent (and meanwhile converted) slave with goodwill and to forgive and rehabilitate him because he would no longer be only a slave to him but ‘above a servant, a brotherly beloved. The Apostle himself promised he would make good any loss which Onesimus had caused him, and he also expected Philemon to yield to the urge of Christian love and Christian duty. The whole affords a striking analogy to the Gospel story of Redemption.
THE OUTLINES OF THE EPISTLE TO PHILEMON: TITLE AND SALUTATION-VERSE 1-3
THANKSGIVING FOR PHILEMON’S LOVE AND FAITH-VERSE 4:7 PLEA FOR ONESIMUS-VERSES 8-12
PAUL’S CONSIDERATION IN SENDING BACK ONESIMUS-VERSE 13-16
APPEAL TO PHILEMON AND GREETINGS-VERSE 22:25.