The Apostle Paul wrote this short letter to Philemon in A.D. 60. Philemon was a slave owner and Onesimus was a runaway slave. Paul was in prison in Rome, and somehow Onesimus had a conversion to Christianity after running away.
Paul is sending this letter to Philemon together with the letter to the church of Colossi using Tychius and Onesimus as the letter carriers!
Colossians 4:7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
Philemon had the right to punish Onesimus and recapture him as a slave, but because of Paul’s faith in the redemptive powers of Christ he is sending him anyway.
Paul promises to pay back the money Onesimus stole from Philemon when he ran away. This is how business between Christians should be conducted!
This is just a short letter from one man to another. So why is it in the Bible? Paul had written many other letters to individuals and none of them made it into the Bible. (Paul’s letter to Titus was really for the church in Crete which was being formed and for universal use on qualifications for leadership in churches.)
It is my belief this short letter is included in the Bible is because of slavery. Paul’s co-writer Timothy writes in 1 Timothy 1:7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. 8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
If Philemon had recaptured Onesimus he would have been a slave trader, and this letter is in the Bible to affirm that slave trading is out of bounds to Christians.
On the other hand Muhammad, the prophet of Islam Owned, bought and sold slaves, making him a slave trader, and slave trading has been the tradition of Muslims through the ages. Saudi Arabia abolished slavery in the 1950’s, and Mauritius abolished it in 2007. As of now there is no country that has slavery as an official policy, but world-wide human trafficking is on the rebound.
What we need is a revival among followers of Christ and an awakening among people to turn to true Christian values