When I was in my early 20’s I used to eagerly visit the mailbox every day looking for a letter from my favorite gal, who later became my wife. We lived 120 miles apart and it was before the age of email and cell phone, so it was a special treat to open the mailbox and smell the fragrance of her perfume on the envelope.
Eagerly I would open the letter and spend the next few minutes pouring over her letter. As our relationship grew the greeting went from Hi, to dear, to dearest and the endings of the letters changed from bye, to sincerely, to love always.
In ancient times letters traveled from person to person and from church to church. Often a letter would be carried over great distances by one person, a trusted friend or a servant, to be given directly to the hands of the recipient. One such letter was written by Paul, while a prisoner in Rome, and sent to Philemon who lived in Colossae. Philemon was a Christian, a convert from Paganism who Paul himself had baptized. How eagerly Philemon must have opened the letter from Paul and begun to read.
I have often wondered what Philemon’s response to this letter was, which dealt with a personal manner, a domestic matter that has now been shared with the whole world. The book or letter to Philemon is unique in that it states no doctrine and offers no specific exhortation for the church. Nevertheless, that the Epistle to Philemon belongs in our Bible becomes amply clear through a careful study of the letter and its relationship to the other Pauline Epistles.
It must be a truly small sample of the type of correspondence that likely took place between Paul and the other believers and between all the Apostles with the believers in the early Christian church