This letter was written by Apostle Paul, to Philemon requesting him to forgive his runaway slave (Onesimus) and to accept him as brother in the faith.
Romans, Greeks and Jewish cultures contained barriers, as their societies assigned people to classes and expected them to stay in their respective places. Men and women, enslaved and free, rich and poor, Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and Barbarians, pious and heathen.
With the message of Jesus Christ, these barriers came down. Onesimus belonged to Philemon who was a member of the Colossian church and Paul’s friend. Onesimus, the slave, had stolen from his master and run away. He ran to Rome where he met Paul, and there he responded to a new life in Jesus Christ.
Paul writes to Philemon and reintroduces Onesimus to him, explaining that he is sending him back, not just as a slave but as brother. Respectfully Paul asks Philemon to accept and forgive his servant. This writing is a masterpiece of grace and tact and is a profound demonstration of the power of Jesus Christ, and of true Christian fellowship in action.
The barriers of the past and the new ones erected by Onesimus’s desertion and theft should divide them no longer-they are one in Christ.