an inhabitant of Colosse, and apparently a person of some note among the citizens ( Colossians 4:9 ; Philemon 1:2 ). He was brought to a knowledge of the gospel through the instrumentality of Paul (19), and held a prominent place in the Christian community for his piety and beneficence (4-7). He is called in the epistle a "fellow-labourer," and therefore probably held some office in the church at Colosse; at all events, the title denotes that he took part in the work of spreading a knowledge of the gospel.
the name of the Christian to whom Paul addressed his epistle in behalf of Onesimus. He was a native probably of Colosse, or at all events lived in that city when the apostle wrote to him: first, because Onesimus was a Colossian, ( Colossians 4:9 ) and secondly because Archippus was a Colossian, ( Colossians 4:17 ) whom Paul associates with Philemon at the beginning of his letter. ( Philemon 1:1 Philemon 1:2 ) It is related that Philemon became bishop of Colosse, and died as a martyr under Nero. It is evident 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 toward his friends and the poor in general. He was indebted to the apostle Paul as the medium of his personal participation in the gospel. It is not certain under what circumstances they became known to each other. 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.
fi-le'-mon, fi-le'-mun (Philemon):
Among the converts of Paul, perhaps while at Ephesus, was one whom he calls a "fellow-worker," Philemon (Philemon 1:1). He was probably a man of some means, was celebrated for his hospitality (Philemon 1:5-7) and of considerable importance in the ecclesia at Colosse. It was at his house (Philemon 1:2) that the Colossian Christians met as a center. It is more than probable that this was a group of the Colossian church rather than the entire ekklesia. His wife was named Apphia (Philemon 1:2); and Archippus (Philemon 1:2) was no doubt his son. From Colossians 4:17 we learn that Archippus held an office of some importance in Colosse, whether he was a presbyter (Abbott, ICC), or an evangelist, or perhaps the reader (Zahn), we cannot tell. He is called here (Philemon 1:2) Paul's "fellow-soldier."
The relation between the apostle and Philemon was so close and intimate that Paul does not hesitate to press him, on the basis of it, to forgive his slave, Onesimus, for stealing and for running away.
See PHILEMON, EPISTLE TO.
Tradition makes Philemon the bishop of Colosse (Apostolical Constitutions, vii, 46), and the Greek Martyrology (Menae) for November 22 tells us that he together with his wife and son and Onesimus were martyred by stoning before Androcles, the governor, in the days of Nero. With this the Latin Martyrology agrees (compare Lightfoot, Ignatius, II, 535). This evidence, however, is unsatisfactory and cannot be trusted as giving unquestionable facts as to Philemon. The only sure information is that in the epistle bearing his name.
Charles Smith Lewis
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