These small group study notes contain outlines, cross-references,  lessons to learn, and applications from the Philemon. Feel free to print them, copy them, or share them. I only ask that you remember these are are personal study notes and are only meant as a supplement to your own study, not a replacement. I hope you can find some helpful information inside. Visit our inductive Bible study main page for more studies on this and other books of the Bible.

Overview of the Book of Philemon

Book Overview

1.      Principle Personalities

Paulsmall or little (158)

Most prominent apostle, wrote 14 epistles, mentioned 125 times in the book of Acts (compared to Peter’s 54 times)

22 Are they Hebrews ? So am I. Are they Israelites ? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham ? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ ?-I speak as if insane -I more so ; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren ; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak ? Who is led into sin without my intense concern ? 30 If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, 33 and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands. 2 Co 11:22-33

Timothyhonoring God (24)

Resident of Lystra, father was a Greek, mother was a Jew, traveling companion of Paul, likely the most faithful disciple Paul trained

Phil 2: 19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition . 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.

Philemonone who kisses (0)

a wealthy, well respected, influential, faithful believer, who had previously owned the slave Onesimus. Paul had apparently led him to the Lord and discipled him.

Onesimusprofitable or useful (2)

a runaway slave, whom Paul had led to Christ and discipled. He had served Paul faithfully during Paul’s imprisonment

Col 4:8 For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts ; 9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here.

Apphiafruitful (0)

Possibly Philemon’s wife

Archippusmaster of the horse (1)

He was a member of Philemon’s household, probably his son

Col 4:17 Say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it."

2.      Historical Setting

-Information on the author;

-The date the book was written, and how this was determined; - it was written around 60-62 A.D. while Paul was imprisoned in Rome

-The history or culture of the period; - slavery was widespread in the Roman Empire. The relationship between Philemon and Onesimus was the product of this environment

-Significant extra-biblical events or persons of that same period in history; - Nero was the Roman Emperor from 54-68 and was an early persecutor of Christianity. He was known for having captured Christians burned in his garden at night as a source of light.

-Maps covering the geography mentioned in the text; - Colossae was located in the southwest area of what is now modern day Turkey

-Facts about the book’s significance in history or literature; - it provides an insight into how Christianity dealt with the issue of slavery in the Roman Empire.

-Other biblical passages which cover the same period as this book or the book’s author. Colossians was written about the same time.

3.      Purpose – to reconcile Philemon’s and Onesimus’ relationship

4.      Theme(s)


New Life in Christ

Christian Relationships

5.      Impressions/thoughts

A.    Paul had a very high regard for Philemon

B.     Philemon had demonstrated his commitment and faithfulness

C.     Paul’s meekness and graciousness, not authoritarian

D.    Paul is generous with praise

E.     It seems virtually impossible for Philemon refuse

F.      Confident expectations is a powerful motivator

G.    Paul is very much a people person

H.    This is an exceptionally persuasive letter

I.       Paul prefers to use relational influence rather than exercise his authority as an apostle


6.      Questions

A.    How do you speak positively to someone who is generally unfaithful?

B.     What was Philemon’s response?

C.     Is Paul expressing faith in the Colossians’ lives?

D.    Who are Apphia and Archippus?

E.     What are the advantages/disadvantages of the way Paul appeals to Philemon rather than exercising his apostolic authority?

F.      What is the NT position on slavery?


7.      Overview

A.    Outline

I.          Greetings                                                    1-3

II.      Paul’s Assessment of Philemon             4-9

III.   Paul’s Appeal to Philemon                      10-20

IV.    Paul’s Assurance in Philemon                21-22

V.       Conclusion                                                  23-25     

B.     Book Title – Christian Forgiveness

C.     Key Verse(s) – Philemon 18 But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account;

If you found these study notes helpful feel free to check out my library of inductive Bible study notes, topical Bible studies, and character studies chapter by chapter.

Or go to the resources tab on the right and then click on Inductive Bible Study Notes.

Home Site Map Contact Us Links Testimonials About Us FAQ

Calligraphy for God 2007 - 2017 - All Rights Reserved