corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.20.12.04
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Dictionaries

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Philemon, Theology of


Resource Toolbox

The letter to Philemon is also addressed to Apphia and Archippus (v. 2). That Philemon is the intended primary recipient, however, is clear from the fact that, apart from the conclusion of the letter (vv. 22,25), which uses the second-person plural pronoun (referring to all three addressees), the rest of the letter employs the second-person singular pronoun (Gk. su [ σύ ] ) in addressing the primary recipient, who is surely Philemon.

Paul's reference to the "church in your (sing.) home" (v. 2) clearly indicates that a single household is intended. Therefore, these three individuals were probably related. Perhaps Apphia was the wife of Philemon and Archippus was his son.

The letter of Philemon is little more than a note in length, consisting of only 335 words in Greek, and hardly more than a memo in nature. Although the letter contains no theological arguments, it is written from a definite theological presupposition centering on Onesimus's new postconversion relationship (v. 10) in the flesh and in the Lord (v. 16). The theological premise is that upon conversion even a slave becomes an equally important part of the body of Christ, the Christian family; the premise is that, in Christ, there is no longer slave nor free (cf. Galatians 3:28 ). Paul had earlier written to the Corinthian believers that whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ (1 Corinthians 7:22 ). In Philemon, as in the beginning of every letter in the Pauline corpus except Titus, the readers are reminded that every Christian is a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This reality applied with equal validity to both Philemon and Onesimus, to master as well as slave. Paul's ultimate desire was that a new sociological relationship would emerge based on this reciprocal spiritual reality.

John McRay

See also Paul the Apostle


Copyright Statement
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement.

Bibliography Information
Elwell, Walter A. Entry for 'Philemon, Theology of'. Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/bed/p/philemon-theology-of.html. 1996.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 4th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
ADVERTISEMENT
Search for…
Enter query in the box:
 or 
Choose a letter to browse:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z 

 
Prev Entry
Pharisees
Next Entry
Philippians, Theology of
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology