It is an epistle of Paul as clearly indicated in several verses within the book and is one of the so called “prison epistles” written during his incarceration at Rome.
It is Paul’s shortest letter and we are often left wondering why God saw it fit to include it in the Holy Scripture
Here is what we can expect in the letter. This is a letter of tact, diplomacy and proper persuasion. He exudes brotherly care and concern while at the same time maintaining authority but without wielding it like an ax.
It is a carefully orchestrated letter, and written to achieve a desired result based on Paul’s discernment of the situation combined with his intricate knowledge of God’s Word. It also provides for some insight into some of the finer principles of Christian living.
Philemon 1:1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer,
Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ – A prisoner at Rome in the cause of Jesus Christ; [incarcerated and held captive]
Paul was told by Christ to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles; The Jews didn’t like this:
Acts 22:21 Then He [Jesus] said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’ ”
Acts 22:22 And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!”
Acts 22:23 Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air,
Acts 23:11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
So pretty much from here to the end of the chapter he is accused of many things, but nothing worthy of death. Most of the leaders who dealt with him could find no wrong: Pushed the problem on the another leader.
Finally makes it to Rome, is put under house arrest and while there writes this letter to Philemon.
One point to consider is that He does not call himself, as in other Epistles, “Paul an apostle,” as he is writing familiarly, not authoritatively. [we will see why later]. This is a personal letter unlike the others that are directed to the whole church. [To the churches of Galatia; To the saints who are in Ephesus, Philippi and Colosse; ]
And Timothy our brother [in Christ]- Paul often has Timothy’s name with his own in his epistles; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1.
Timothy was from that area of the country, and having spent so much time with Paul probably knew Philemon and was familiar with him and his situation.
Play on names [with purpose]: Philemon: Affectionate or beloved, from a word meaning kiss;
this led the apostle to say: To Philemon our Dearly Beloved.
fellow laborer, it appears that Philemon was an elder, a fellow worker in God’s field along with Paul.
1 Corinthians 3:9 For we [Apollos and Paul] are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.
Continues with the name play
Philemon 1:2 to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
It is commonly held that she was the wife of Philemon, which seems likely because of the order of the names Philemon, her and then the minister.
Apparently some manuscripts have Apphia Appha
The Alexandrian copy reads, “to sister Apphia“; and the Vulgate Latin version, “to the beloved sister Apphia
Appha is the affectionate address of a brother or sister; so a sister in this case. Whether this is interpolated because of the rest of the play on names remains to be seen.
Paul engages Apphia early in the letter probably knowing that she would be a part of the process anyway. I think most of us know from experience how much a wife can influence a decision.
So Paul pulls her in and gets her involved in the letter
Then we come to Archippus. Commentaries suppose him to be the son of Philemon and Apphia. He is also a minister as Colossians 4:17 points out
Colossians 4:17 And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” [So the order of address is Philemon and his wife, the minister, and the church]
Now the play on Archippus’ name: Means: The master of the horse or horse ruler; from a chief [arch], and a horse[hippus; hippodrome; hippopotamus: river horse ].
CITE: Adam Clark: Heroes of old were, both among the Greeks and Trojans, celebrated for their skill in managing and taming the horse, and employing him in war; this frequently occurs in Homer. The import of the name of Archippus might suggest this idea to the apostle’s mind, and lead him to say: Archippus our Fellow Soldier.
The reason for the play on their names will become clear a little later. I don’t believe that Paul is necessarily just being playful and lighthearted, but he has a purpose in mind which we will get to a little later in the chapter.
Philemon 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a very common salutation that Paul uses throughout his epistles; we will comment on it a little later.
Philemon 1:4 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers,
Even with all that he was going through even at that moment being imprisoned and bound by a chain.
Made a habit of praying on the behalf of others; Paul prayed in an intercessory fashion and he did specifically and personally and always. He mentioned them by name as they were always on his mind)
He said this of all the saints that were in Ephesus:
Ephesians 1:16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:
This of course is another way in which we are to imitate Paul
Philemon 1:5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints,
Hearing of thy love and faith – their reputation had made it back to Paul, who knows it maybe by theperson who is the object of this letter who will be introduced to later
… toward all the saints [the holy ones] – this could be a setup for some of the points he wants to make later and at the very least goes towards the entire argument of the letter and what Paul is trying to achieve and get Philemon to see…that there is a way to treat the brethren, the ones that God has set apart with a calling
Philemon 1:6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
It was part of Paul’s prayers that Philemon would completely understand that he is what he is today because of Christ in him. Philemon, like all of us, started out his journey like we all did as a carnal being. If he can fully realize this he can become more effective in his ministry and the sharing of his faith towards ALL the saints.
This appears to be a part of the setup. At this point Philemon has to be asking himself to a certain degree, why did Paul say that he could be lacking in this area? This will become clear a little later as we come to the crux of the matter.
Paul goes on to commend Philemon in :7
Philemon 1:7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
Joy: Grace in :1
Paul in :3 says “Grace to you” and now recognizes that Philemon is this way towards many others
Charis – It is God that extends this grace or favor or graciousness first to us, like Paul was mentioning in :6. We are to, in that same way, extend it to others and Philemon had been an example of that in the past to the extent that the KJV puts it:
KJV: because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother
bowels: (the “spleen”); an intestine (plural); inward affection, + tender mercy.
Today, in our culture, we associate emotions with our intestinal area:
Some of the sayings we have:
stomach in knots
This word is also used literally in speaking of Judas when he fell headlong and his bowels came out.
More often though it is used figuratively and this word that is similar to spleen is even translated “inward affection” and “tender mercy” (2Co_7:15, Luk_1:78)
So when he says their bowels were refreshed, it is not to say that their bellies were filled with food, but the real intended meaning was that the church member’s hearts were filled with gladness because of him. They were meeting at Philemon’s house for Sabbath services every week and being preached to and taught the word of God in and out of season.
brother — put last, and it is perhaps to put Philemon in a frame of mind before :8[also shows the familiarity and approach that Paul is taking in the letter ]
Philemon 1:8 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting,
NIV: Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do,
Now though Paul is still treading lightly, he has left some of the subtleties behind and begins to speak more plainly as we come to the heart of the matter.
He was in a position of authority as Apostle, which if you remember, he didn’t start this letter in the same fashion that he did many of this other epistles. Because he is taking a different approach with Philemon. In fact the same approach that he wants Philemon to take later on.
Paul is also saying that he knew what the right thing to do was, he was not in doubt about it and it would be within his purview to command such a thing, YET…
Philemon 1:9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ—
Here is the different approach…like the one he talks about in:
1 Thessalonians 2:6 Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2:7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.
Yet for love’s sake – love would dictate that this is the right way/thing to do; a better way of operating within the realm of Christian and brotherly relationships
Paul is also continuing to put Philemon in a state of mind to be more amenable to his request
I rather appeal to you – Rather than command you as mentioned in the verse above
the aged – he may have been 53-63; more towards the latter age; hard to be very accurate
But more interestingly, the word for aged can signify, not only an old man, but also an ambassador, elder, as in office [as Thayer points out]
Either one of these words would seemingly fit better in context and give a greater weight to what Paul is asking here
And now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ – many commentaries take this and the aged comment to be a pity play. Like Paul is saying that Philemon should acquiesce to his request, because woe is me! I am old and in jail, so please Philemon do this for me, for these reasons.
To me that doesn’t really sound like the Paul I know; all that he had been through (night in the deep; bitten by venomous snakes, stoned etc); how he handled conflict with others like 1 Corinthians;
he would not make it about him but about doing what the Bible says and what is right! Which to me is the whole point of the letter
This is the second time that Paul says this in this short letter this time right before he is to make his main point…and he says that he is in bonds, he is a slave in this respect being held against his will.
So when he makes some of the points that he is about to make, he knows whereof he speaks
Philemon 1:10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains,
Finally we get to the main point and why Paul is writing: Onesimus is a bond servant or a slave to Philemon; a doulos; he ran away and now it was time to face the music
So Paul begins:
I appeal to you – repeated [same word] from :9 He is now saying that in the same way that I would have you appeal to me, I appeal to you on behalf of Onesimus
my son Onesimus – figuratively as a spiritual father
Paul calls Timothy and Titus a son, as well as makes reference to his nurturing of the church through the gospel
1 Corinthians 4:15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
My son – a term chosen to elicit a specific response. Something not said of a servant / slave
begotten in my bonds – Paul obviously realized that he was only an instrument of Christ, but nonetheless it was through him while he was in prison. An example that of the fact that God can accomplish his purpose no matter what and really it would have to be God working in this situation.
I also have to wonder if Paul was saying this out loud if he would have said it with emphasis on MY
I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in MY chains
In order to continue making the point that he too was in chains and what real bearing does this have on who the man is on the inside?
So finally after a considerable amount of setting the stage, the matter at hand is finally brought to the fore…and even so at the very end of the sentence.
Now more to the core issue:
Philemon 1:11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.
unprofitable / profitable – Now back to play on words and why Paul may have worded the intro the way he did. Onesimus means profitable. It is unclear whether this name, which appears to be common during this time was more a title or an actual name.
But Paul now uses it to stress the point. Philemon no doubt got him in order that he would be profitable to him, but once he left he became “unprofitable to you” in the physical sense and even in a spiritual sense
But now he is profitable in the spiritual sense BUT not just to Paul, he is emphasizing that he is Profitable as his name means to Philemon as well.
Philemon 1:12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart,
I am sending him back. – Realistically Paul did not have the ability to force Onesimus to return other than the same coercive dialogue that he is using in his letter to Philemon.
You therefore receive him – What is going through Philemon’s mind at this point? Philemon has his work cut out for him in how he would receive him and how this would be perceived by other servants and other slave owners in the area.
He continues by saying that Onesimus is a part of him
that is, my own heart –
New International Version (©1984)
I am sending him–who is my very heart–back to you.
New Living Translation (©2007)
I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.
English Standard Version (©2001)
I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.
International Standard Version (©2008)
As I send him back, it’s like I’m coming along with him.
GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
I am sending him back to you. This is like sending you a part of myself.
Weymouth New Testament
I am sending him back to you, and in so doing I send part of myself.
In effect he is saying: If you love me, then love him, for he a part of me.
Philemon 1:13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel.
As if to say I would love to keep him here with me but this is the better way; this is the right thing to do, even though I, Paul, could have continued to use him.
whom I wished to keep with me – perhaps a little hint
that on your behalf he might minister to me – he is taking the place of what Philemon would have been doing had he have been there.
Onesimus could have been helping Paul out with many things: Necessities of life, errands (since Paul was in chains) and even the ministering of the Word of God and Paul is saying that credit would go to Philemon for allowing this great service
Philemon 1:14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.
This sums up the tone and approach of the whole letter. Paul is seeking to persuade with Godly reason rather than resorting to his God given authority.
Paul has put the ball entirely in Philemon’s court by not keeping Onesimus,
Paul had to convince him to go back (of his own accord as there was no moral obligation to do so)
By doing so Paul is putting the decision making power in Philemon’s hands
Also in this way, Philemon could have nothing against Paul
that your good deed – the services that Onesimus was providing to Paul
might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary – giving Philemon the “chance” (though how could he in good conscience after all that Paul has said)
This gives Philemon the opportunity to do what is right and build character and continue setting the good example that Paul commented on in :6
Paul is trying to show Philemon a better way by his own example, the way that he is treating Philemon in this matter
Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.
Matthew 20:21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”
Matthew 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.”
Matthew 20:23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”
Matthew 20:24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers.
Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority (katakurieuō) over them.
(Acts 19:16) Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered (katakurieuō) them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Matthew 20:26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
Matthew 20:27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—
Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
This is the better way that Paul is talking about
Peter echoes the same thing in:
1 Peter 5:1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:
1 Peter 5:2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;
1 Peter 5:3 nor as being lords over (katakurieuō) those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;
This is what Paul was doing in the letter to Philemon. Treating him like the brother that he refers to him as in :7, hoping that Philemon will then in return treat Onesimus, their brother in the same way.
Philemon 1:15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever,
For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, – Perhaps this was God inspired, a calling for Onesimus. This higher calling could then be of a greater service than he was in his former position as a slave with Philemon
[this is perhaps a better way to look at it for Philemon]
Notice how God works in this situation
It is not inconceivable then that God was using Onesimus and his calling to work out a greater good; [similar to Joseph being enslaved in Egypt ]
And now this is really being evidenced by the fact that we now have the book of Philemon.
departed – a nice word for what Onesimus did
for a while; for a season (KJV) – hōra literally an hour; what is this as contrasted to forever
that you might receive him forever, – a relationship that would have eternal ramifications as they were now united in the be bonds of spiritual brotherhood.
Had he returned in his former status, how could Philemon trust him. But now it is an altogether different story and Philemon could “receive him”…not only that but “forever”
receive – Greek, “have him for yourself in full possession”
This could be another play on words. This was the case before Onesimus left, but now it would be the case again only in a spiritual vein,
Philemon 1:16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
no longer – an admission of a previous condition, but by the same token it is an acknowledgment of who and what Onesimus was in addition to this at that point.
Is Paul advocating revolution here?
Ephesians 6:5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;
Ephesians 6:6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,
Ephesians 6:7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,
Ephesians 6:8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
1 Corinthians 7:20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.
1 Corinthians 7:21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.
1 Corinthians 7:22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.
1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
1 Corinthians 7:24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.
I like the way Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown sum up the issue of slavery: Scripture does not sanction slavery, but at the same time does not begin a political crusade against it
What Philemon has to realize is that Onesimus now has an equal calling to his own
a beloved brother especially to me – especially to Paul considering his conversion under Paul as well as his ministering to him.
but how much more to you –
He comes back as a member of the “family”, returning from the error of his ways; and likely never to do it again – these things should mean a lot to Philemon
If we take out the phrase delineated by the commas (especially to me but how much more to you) we see the point in this verse that Paul is making – that Onesimus is a beloved brother…both in the flesh and in the Lord. He is now a member in the church and heavenly family
Philemon 1:17 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me.
Partner – translated elsewhere as companions, fellowship, partaker
The idea in the word is that of having something in common and in this case it is the Gospel, Paul is putting the heavy on Philemon. If you and I are of the same religion, then:
receive him as you would me – shows how highly he regarded Onesimus and demonstrates to Philemon, in reality, how he should as well.
A reiteration of :12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, as a part of me or as you would receive me, receive him in the same way
Philemon 1:18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.
if – for some reason it appears here that Paul does not know what the debt may be. Or it could be that now that Philemon knows God’s hand is in it, if he still feels that he has been wronged in light of it then put that on my account
At the end of the day, it really is pure speculation since it is not clearly outlined any where. So I will just leave this aspect of the verse at that.
account – only other place this word is found in Bible is Rom 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Represent as being done, caused, or possessed by someone; attribute
As in: the crimes imputed to a specific person
Impute is to assign (a value) to something by inference from the value of the products or processes to which it contributes
Strong’s: attribute: – impute, put on account.
Paul is saying lay it to my charge or charge me; he was in effect being Christ like paying for something that he didn’t do, and in effect he was asking Philemon to take the “wrong” on himself
–a godly principle
But this was not necessary, let’s quickly recount why:
(1) Onesimus, not Paul, had done the wrong
(2) Paul was not guilty of it
(3) Paul assumed the debt to himself
(4) Philemon could have never charged it on him
So what we have here then is Paul setting a Christ-like example. Paul was practicing what he preached.
2 Corinthians 5:19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Paul was saying something similar in verses :17-18 of Philemon
Do not impute his trespass to him, but to me, Paul, I will take on his debt caused by sin.
Receive him as you would me, since you have nothing against me, and put anything that he may owe on my account.
A very noble gesture.
Philemon 1:19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides.
I, Paul, am writing with my own hand – this was not always the case as evidenced elsewhere in his writings – Salutations/greetings were from him, the rest may have been taken by dictation. Paul had failing eye sight and was incarcerated at times.
But this was a personal letter as we mentioned before and may have been why he wrote it himself.
Philemon knowing this also, meant this letter would carry more weight
but this would have underscored his commitment and sincerity to follow through on what he was saying
I will repay— this emulates a legal form of security or guarantee or promissory note. The Bible cautions strongly against doing this, Paul knowing this, felt it necessary in this situation to do it, but I would imagine Paul did not expect that it would be redeemed as we see in the rest of the sentence.
not to mention – cracks me up, because he does mention the following just “oh by the way”
to you that you owe me even your own self besides. – seems questionable that he would be referring to a monetary sum but his conversion, that being attributable to Paul. So he sets up a juxtaposition of debts and obviously by comparison what Philemon owes Paul is considerably greater than what Onesimus owes Philemon.
Possibly an Allusion to Christs words in: Matthew 18:23-35
Philemon 1:20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord.
let me have joy from you in the Lord – seems to be saying that this would be the right thing to do based on the teachings of God as you know them
I wanted to compare other usage of this word “joy” throughout the Bible, but this is the only place that this word is used.
It is interesting how a couple of other translations have it.
Darby Bible Translation
Yea, brother, I would have profit of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in Christ.
Young’s Literal Translation
Yes, brother, may I have profit of thee in the Lord; refresh my bowels in the Lord;
It appears to be another play on words in conjunction with name Onesimus like verse 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.
joy oninēmi on-in’-ay-mee
Onesimus Ŏnēsimos on-ay’-sim-os Strongs has it as derived from this word for joy
It really appears to me in conjunction with verses 13 and 14 that Paul is asking for Onesimus back for all the help that can provide, but he wants it to be Philemon’s decision
When you read it this way: Yes, brother, let me have Onesimus from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. [it makes sense and Paul would also have joy]
refresh my heart in the Lord – uses the word for bowels again
So the meaning here then is that Paul has earnest desire that this be done for BOTH of them; it would satisfy Paul’s ardent request on behalf of Onesimus as well as benefit Philemon by him doing the right thing
On top of that Paul is only asking him to continue to do what you have been doing, keep acting the same way :7 because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. [same word bowel there too]
Philemon 1:21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
Paul knew what kind of man Philemon was and had the utmost trust in his Christianity and knew that he would do what was right in the eyes of God as well as Paul. Of course Paul said [1 Corinthians 11:1] Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. And as we have seen Paul was not asking out of line but rather setting a good example all the way through the letter.[Paul could have been putting subtle pressure on him to free Onesimus. As we think through the repercussions of Paul commanding this, we realize that it could have been tantamount to starting a revolution. What would all the other slave owners and slaves within the church think if this is what Paul demanded of Philemon? What would the Roman government do if they knew Paul was advocating this? ]
Now Paul has finished addressing the issue at hand and closes the letter in the last 4 verses.
Philemon 1:22 But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.
prepare a guest room for me – Paul may have been accustomed to Philemon’s hospitality; also it may even show an intent to settle up his debt if necessary
I trust – Hopeful of a release
through your prayers I shall be granted to you. – expectation of reciprocal intercessory prayers that he had been doing on their behalf
Philemon 1:23 Epaphras my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you,
This could be figurative in the same way that Archippus was a fellow soldier, obviously he wasn’t involved in the military. But it is not outside the realm of possibilities that he got caught up in everything along with Paul. This could be a distinct possibility considering he is referred to separately from those in verse 24
Philemon 1:24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.
…fellow laborers Uses the term again
These are the same people that Paul mentions at the end of Colossians, which can be used to put the dates of these two epistles fairly close together
Philemon 1:25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit
Paul also was setting an example in the way he acted toward Philemon showing him a better way that he could act towards Onesimus.
What we have seen is a masterfully written and well thought out letter and if Philemon was to read it carefully he would have seen the how Paul was encouraging him to act towards Onesimus by continuing to do what is right and act the way you have been acting towards everyone else, but now he was to include Onesimus.
This is about much more than slave and free but a timely and important message for all the saints.