Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
was an inhabitant of Colosse; and from the manner in which he is addressed by St. Paul in his epistle to him, it is probable that he was a person of some consideration in that city. St. Paul seems to have been the means of converting him to the belief of the Gospel, Philippians 1:19 . He calls him his fellow-labourer; and from that expression some have thought that he was bishop or deacon of the church at Colosse; but others have been of opinion, that he was only a private Christian, who had shown a zealous and active disposition in the cause of Christianity, without holding any ecclesiastical office. We learn from this epistle itself, that it was written when St. Paul was a prisoner, and when he had hope of soon recovering his liberty, Philippians 1:1; Philippians 1:22; and thence we conclude that it was written toward the end of his first confinement at Rome. This epistle has always been deservedly admired for the delicacy and address with which it is written; and it places St. Paul's character in a very amiable point of view. He had converted a fugitive slave to the Christian faith; and he here intercedes with his master in the most earnest and affectionate manner for his pardon; he speaks of Onesimus in terms calculated to soften Philemon's resentment, engages to make full compensation for any injury which he might have sustained from him, and conjures him to reconciliation and forgiveness by the now endearing connection of Christian brotherhood. See .
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Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Philemon'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/p/philemon.html. 1831-2.