One of the Pauline Epistles that make up the New Testament. The shortest work by the apostle, taking up no more than a single chapter, Paul writes to his fellow believer Philemon while he was in prison.
Structure of the book:
- Greeting (Philemon verses 1 to 3)
- Philemon's love and faith (Philemon verses 4 to 7)
- Paul's plea for Onesimus (Philemon verses 8 to 22)
- Final greetings (Philemon verses 23 to 25)
Tropes associated with this work:
- Forgiveness: Paul writes to Philemon on account of his runaway slave Onesimus, whom Paul the apostle has ministered to and now sends back to his master as "better than a slave", a "beloved brother in the Lord," so that he would be forgiven of whatever he has done to Philemon.
- I Owe You My Life: Inverted in verses 18 and 19 when Paul tells Philemon that if Onesimus owes anything, he, Paul, will repay it, but also reminds Philemon that "you owe me even your own self."
- Meaningful Name: Onesimus, meaning "beneficial or profitable". Paul tells Philemon how beneficial Onesimus would be now that he has been made into a "beloved brother in the Lord", that he could continue to serve Paul while he was in chains if Philemon would permit it.