Catholic Dictionary




A convert of Paul who had the distinction of being the only recorded recipient of a personal letter from the Apostle. Paul had converted a runaway slave named Onesimus and learned that the master he had deserted and robbed was Philemon. He persuaded Onesimus to return to his owner with a warm, beseeching letter urging Philemon to show mercy. He offered to pay whatever the errant slave owed. It was an appeal for compassion that Philemon would not only forgive Onesimus but set him free as a Christian brother (Philemon 1-25). (Etym. Greek philēmon, loving.)