Philemon

 

Author

·         Some scholars believe Paul wrote the letter, and other scholars believe a follower of Paul wrote the letter.

 

Place and Time of Writing

·         Paul wrote this letter while under house arrest in Rome

·         60-62

 

Unique Characteristics

·         Prison Epistle

·         One chapter

·         The only Prison Epistle written to an individual.

·         Since this letter is only one chapter long, whenever a verse is quoted a “1:” is not used in front of it.

 

Audience

·         Philemon, who was a slave owner

 

Theme

·         Encouragement from an apostle to a Christian asking him to accept a now-Christian runaway slave.

 

Opening Philemon Up

 

Why did Paul write this letter?

While Paul was imprisoned he met a slave named Onesimus.  Onesimus had done something to anger his slave owner Philemon.  We don’t know if he stole something or broke something or what the activity was.  Onesimus fled and apparently went to Rome.  While there he was imprisoned and met Paul.  Onesimus than became a Christian.  Paul encouraged Onesimus to return home, but Onesimus didn’t want to go.  Why?  In those days if a slave acted maliciously the slave owner could have the slave beaten or killed.  Therefore Onesimus did not want to return to Philemon.  Fortunately Paul also knew Philemon, and so wrote this letter asking Philemon to receive Onesimus back without harming him.

    We do not know what happened after this, whether Onesimus did return and, if so, if Philemon punished him.

 

Verses from the letter to Philemon

·         17, 18:  “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.  If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.” 

 

Outline

 

Verses

1-3:  Greetings

4-7:  Thankfulness for Philemon’s friendship and faith

8-21:  Request to accept Onesimus back without harm.

22-25:  Closing remarks

 

Timeline so far      Additions are boldfaced     All dates are approximate

 

63BC

Rome Empire conquered Israel without fighting

44BC

Julius Caesar assassinated by Brutus, Cassius, and others.  Mark Antony tries to seize power, and he and Octavian (Caesar’s nephew) fight for power.

40BC

The Roman Empire made Herod the Great king of Israel

37BC

Antony married Cleopatra in Egypt

31BC

Octavian’s forces defeated Antony and Cleopatra’s forces; they committed suicide the next year.

27BC

Octavian is given name of Augustus, becomes Augustus Caesar.  This is the beginning of Pax Romana

4 BC

Jesus born

4 BC

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt because Herod the Great wanted to kill Jesus

4 BC

Herod the Great died

4 BC

After Herod the Great died, the kingdom of the Jews was divided and given to Herod’s three sons:

The northern part, north of Nazareth, went to Philip.

The middle part called Galilee, north of Jerusalem but where Nazareth was located, went to Herod Antipas.  (He is referred to as “Herod” in the Gospels and so this can be confusing.)

The southern part called Judea, where Jerusalem and Bethlehem was located, went to Herod Archelaus. 

AD

All years after this point are AD

Before

6

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to Nazareth instead of moving to Bethlehem

6

Archelaus was removed from power because he was so brutal

6 and after

The Romans did not choose another of Herod’s descendants to control Judea (southern Israel) but instead appointed Roman governors

8

Jesus lost in Jerusalem at age 12; Joseph and Mary found him in the Temple; possible Bar Mitzvah

8-27

Jesus probably worked as a carpenter

26-36

The Roman governor in charge of southern Israel was Pilate

27

Jesus baptized by John the Baptist

27-30

Jesus traveled in Israel and preached, taught, and performed miracles

30

1.  Jesus was crucified under the Roman governor Pilate, raises from the dead three days later and ascends out of sight about a month-and-a-half later

2.  The Apostles return to Jerusalem and pick a replacement for Judas

3.  Day of Pentecost

4.  Over 3000 people become Christian

5.  Christianity spreads outside of Israel

30-50

Peter was the leader of the Christian movement

33

Paul became a Christian

48-50

Paul went on his First Missionary Trip

50

Council of Jerusalem

51-90

We do not know what John did during this time period

50-55

Paul went on his Second Missionary Trip

·         Paul wrote Galatians, I Thessalonians, and II Thessalonians

54-68

Nero was Roman emperor

55-60

Paul went on his Third Missionary Trip

·         Paul wrote Romans, and I & II Corinthians

60-62

Paul arrested in Jerusalem, taken to Rome, and lived under house arrest

·         Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon

63

Paul released from prison and travelled; he may have gone to Spain

  • Paul wrote I Timothy and Titus

64

Fire in Rome.  The emperor Nero blamed, persecuted, and killed many Christians.  This was the first Roman persecution of Christians. 

65

1.  Paul back in Rome

2.  Paul wrote II Timothy

3.  Peter and Paul martyred around this year in Rome

66

Some of the Jews got tired of the Roman rule and killed many Roman soldiers.  They thus took back the land of Israel for the Jews.

66-70

The Romans counter-attacked.  The Romans lost one battle, but won the war.

68

Mark written around this year

70

The Romans captured Jerusalem and burned the Temple. 

80

Matthew and Luke written around this year

81-96

Domitian is Roman emperor

90

John and Acts written around this year

95

1.  Persecution of Christians

2.  John was placed on the island of Patmos as a prisoner of Domitian

96

1.  Domitian died

2.  John was probably released from Patmos; he probably traveled to Ephesus where he stayed for the rest of his life

100

John died

367

First listing of the 27 books in a letter written by an Egyptian bishop

390s

Two councils “closed” the NT canon to those 27 books

1200s

NT divided into chapters

1500s

NT divided into verses

 

 

©2016 Mark Nickens All Rights Reserved

 

Questions/comments, contact Mark at marknickens@gmail.com