fi-le'-mon, fi-le'-mun (Philemon): Among the converts of Paul, perhaps while at Ephesus, was one whom he calls a "fellow-worker," Philemon (Phm 1:1). He was probably a man of some means, was celebrated for his hospitality (Phm 1:5-7) and of considerable importance in the ecclesia at Colosse. It was at his house (Phm 1:2) that the Colossian Christians met as a center. It is more than probable that this was a group of the Colossian church rather than the entire ekklesia. His wife was named Apphia (Phm 1:2); and Archippus (Phm 1:2) was no doubt his son. From Col 4:17 we learn that Archippus held an office of some importance in Colosse, whether he was a presbyter (Abbott, ICC), or an evangelist, or perhaps the reader (Zahn), we cannot tell. He is called here (Phm 1:2) Paul's "fellow-soldier."
The relation between the apostle and Philemon was so close and intimate that Paul does not hesitate to press him, on the basis of it, to forgive his slave, Onesimus, for stealing and for running away.
See PHILEMON,EPISTLE TO .
Tradition makes Philemon the bishop of Colosse (Apostolical Constitutions, vii, 46), and the Greek Martyrology (Menae) for November 22 tells us that he together with his wife and son and Onesimus were martyred by stoning before Androcles, the governor, in the days of Nero. With this the Latin Martyrology agrees (compare Lightfoot, Ignatius,II , 535). This evidence, however, is unsatisfactory and cannot be trusted as giving unquestionable facts as to Philemon. The only sure information is that in the epistle bearing his name.
Charles Smith Lewis