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THE EPISTLE TO PHILEMON

FROM ROME A.D. 63

BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION

This little letter was sent to Philemon by Onesimus, a converted runaway slave of Philemon, along with Tychicus who is going to Colossae with Onesimus (Col 4:7-9 ) as the bearer also of the so-called Epistle to the Ephesians (Eph 6:21f. ). Hence it is clear that these three Epistles were carried to the Province of Asia at the same time. Colossians was probably written before Ephesians which appears to be a general treatment of the same theme. Whether Philemon was actually penned before the other two there is no way of knowing. But it is put first here as standing apart. Probably Paul wrote it himself without dictation because in verse 19 it constitutes a note in his own hand to Philemon for what Onesimus may owe him. Paul applies the spirit of Christianity to the problem of slavery in words that have ultimately set the slaves free from bondage to men.

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