The Epistle of Paul to Philemon
Written from Rome, c. AD 62
Returning back to the city of Colosse, Onesimus, the runaway slave, carried this letter from Paul to his master Philemon, encouraging him to adopt a forgiving attitude and restore Onesimus now as a fellow brother in the Lord.
Verses 1-7 Prayer for Philemon
Since the church met in Philemon’s house (verse 2) it is likely everyone knew about the situation with Onesimus. Although this is a personal letter to Philemon, Paul greets members of this church to bring them into the suggestions he is going to make. Paul first acknowledges Philemon’s love and faith toward Christ and his fellow believers. He thus prays that Philemon will do the right thing according to his faith with respect to the returning Onesimus.
Verses 8-17 Plea for Onesimus
In love, as a fellow believer, Paul asks Philemon do the right thing. Paul explains that Onesimus is like a child to him, having become a Christian while Paul was under house arrest. He reminds Philemon his relationship to Onesimus in eternity will not be one of master / slave, but one of brother / brother.
Verses 18-21 Pledge of Paul
Since Onesimus ran away, Philemon lost some money (perhaps Onesimus even stole some). Paul makes a promise to personally pay any amount Onesimus owed.
Verses 22-25 Personal Matters of Paul
Paul anticipates being released from his house arrest and to visit the city of Colosse soon. He asks the church there to pray that the Lord grant this desire, closing with his usual benediction of grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. Quine's View of the Key Verse: Philemon 8
“Therefore, through I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do that which is proper, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you--since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus.”