A citizen of Colossæ, to whom Saint Paul addressed a private letter, unique in the New Testament, which bears his name. As appears from this epistle, Philemon was his dear and intimate friend (verses 1, 13, 17, 22), and had been converted most probably by him (verse 19) during his long residence at Ephesus (Acts 19:26; cf. 18:19), as Saint Paul himself had not visited Colossæ (Colossians 2:1). Rich and noble, he possessed slaves; his house was a place of meeting and worship for the Colossian converts (verse 2); he was kind, helpful, and charitable (verses 5,7), providing hospitality for his fellow Christians (verse 22). Saint Paul calls him his fellow labourer (synergos, verse 1), so that he must have been earnest in his work for the Gospel, perhaps first at Ephesus and afterwards at Colossæ. It is not plain whether he was ordained or not. Tradition represents him as Bishop of Colossæ (Const. Apost., VI, 46), and the Menaia of 22 November speak of him as a holy apostle who, in company with Appia, Archippus, and Onesimus had been martyred at Colossæ during the first general persecution in the reign of Nero. In the address of the letter two other Christian converts, Appia and Archippus (Colossians 4:17) are mentioned; it is generally believed that Appia was Philemon’s wife and Archippus their son. Saint Paul, dealing exclusively in his letter with the domestic matter of a fugitive slave, Onesimus, regarded them both as deeply interested. Archippus, according to Colossians 4:17, was a minister in the Lord, and held a sacred office in the Church of Colossæ or in the neighbouring Church of Laodicaea.
- Achille Camerlynck. “Philemon”. . CatholicSaints.Info. 15 February 2013. Web. 3 May 2015. <>