Bible Philemon

Background Study on the book of Philemon

A couple years ago I wrote a series of blog posts about the Apostle Paul and how he displayed specific leadership characteristics in the book of Philemon. However, looking back on those posts now, I do not believe that I provided adequate background information on the Apostle Paul. Because of that, some of the leadership principles might have been missed.

Background Information on the Apostle Paul and His Leadership in Philemon

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Bible Philemon

Philemon with a Leadership Perspective

The book of Philemon was written by the Apostle Paul while he was in prison with Timothy and a runaway slave named Onesimus. Paul is writing to his “brother in Christ,” Philemon, asking Philemon to accept Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave. However, Onesimus is no longer the person he once was. Onesimus is now “a brother in Christ” whom Paul has helped become a Christian while in prison. 

A Leader Extends His Influence for the Benefit of His Follower

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It is significant that even though Paul is writing the letter to Philemon and making a request of Philemon, Paul also addresses the letter to: Apphia: Philemon’s wife,

  • Archippus: Philemon’s son, and
  • The Church that regularly met at Philemon’s house: This body of Christians serves as “accountability partners” for Philemon because they are not influenced by emotions and feelings about the situation between Onesimus and Philemon.

Sending the letter to these “accountability partners” helps to influence Philemon to do the right thing.  Even though Paul is the most powerful person mentioned in the letter (more on this later), he strategically uses his influence by enlisting others to make sure Philemon makes the correct decision and does the right thing, which is to send Onesimus back to Paul so Onesimus may be used to spread the gospel with Paul.