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Philemon appears to have been a person of some consideration at Colosse, and in the church at that place (Philemon 1:1, Philemon 1:2, Colossians 4:9, Colossians 4:17) who had been converted by the ministry of St. Paul (Philemon 1:19), probably during his abode at Ephesus (Acts 19:10). Onesimus, a slave of Philemon, having, as it is generally thought, been guilty of some dishonesty, fled from his master, and came to Rome, where the apostle was at that time under confinement the first time, as appears by his expectation of being shortly released (Philemon 1:22), about ad 62. Having by some means attended the preaching of the apostle, “in his own hired house,” (Acts 28:16, Acts 28:23) it pleased God to bless it to his conversion. After he had given satisfactory evidence of a real change, and manifested an excellent and amiable disposition, which greatly endeared him to St. Paul, he was sent back to his master by the apostle, who wrote this epistle to reconcile Philemon to his once unfaithful servant.
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17