Main Themes of the Book of Philemon

Philemon Overview

Who wrote the Book of Philemon and who did they write it for?

The book of Philemon is a letter written by Paul to Philemon, a recently converted slave owner who had church in his house in Colossae.

When did the events in the Book of Philemon happen?

Paul wrote this letter during his first imprisonment between 60-63 AD.

What is the setting of the Book of Philemon?

Paul was imprisoned in Rome at the time. Philemon was in Colossae where slavery was common.

What is the purpose of the Book of Philemon?

  1. Salutation and Thanksgiving for Philemon (Philemon 1-7)
  2. Petition for Onesimus (Philemon 8-16)
  3. Confidence in Philemon’s Obedience (Philemon 17-22)
  4. Benediction (Philemon 23-25)

How does the Book of Philemon apply to my life?

  • This is a personal letter but was intended to be shared with the Colossian church as well to encourage Christian charity in all of their relationships.
  • Explains and displays how the love of Christ transforms believers to live according to God’s will.
  • A picture of what Christ did for us in paying our debt of sin, and Paul’s intercession is analogous to Christ’s ongoing intercession for us.
  • Emphasizes that in Christ there is neither slave nor free, and displays the practical application of how the Holy Spirit is the One who baptizes all believers.


Philemon is a tiny little letter from Paul to Philemon. Philemon was a slave owner who had recently converted to Christianity. He held church in his home in Colossae, although it is unclear if he housed the entire church or was a single location for the church in Colossae. Philemon had a slave that had run away and this is Paul’s letter to Philemon urging him to forgive his slave.

This is a valuable letter with themes that are incredibly relevant even today. Throughout this letter, we see a wonderful example of what Christ did for us in paying for our sins. We can be encouraged by the transforming love of Jesus that leads us in His ways to become more like Him and closer to God. There are also valuable lessons about Christian charity that all should take to heart.

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