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 1:1,2) 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, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. 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.
Main reference: Smith's Bible Dictionary (1860s)
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