From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]


Onesimus was a Colossian ( Colossians 4:9), the slave of Philemon ( Philemon 1:16). The name, signifying ‘useful,’ ‘profitable,’ ‘helpful,’ was frequently and appropriately borne by slaves (see J. B. Lightfoot, Colossians and Philemon3, 1879, p. 310, who quotes numerous examples, chiefly from Muratori’s Collection of Inscriptions). C. v. Weizsäcker (Apostolic Age, Eng. translation, 1894-1895, ii. 245) regards the Epistle to Philemon as allegorical owing to the play on the name Onesimus in Phil 3, 1879:11; but on similar grounds much well-authenticated history might be rejected. Onesimus, for a time, belied his name; he absconded from his master’s house, after either robbing him or otherwise doing him ‘injury.’ In order, probably, to avoid detection and at the same time to seek his fortune, Onesimus came to Rome. (For the argument against Caesarea as his place of refuge, see Philemon, Epistle to.) There he came into relation with the apostle Paul, the spiritual father of Philemon. At this time St. Paul had not yet visited Colossae ( Colossians 2:1); but Onesimus may have seen and heard the Apostle at Ephesus during the latter’s three years’ abode in that city, which was only 100 miles distant from Colossae. In any case, he must have heard much of St. Paul in Philemon’s house; and he may thus have been drawn to the Apostle’s Roman lodging by the desire to obtain help in need or to listen to teaching from one who had taken a special interest in slaves ( 1 Corinthians 7:21-22,  Ephesians 6:7-9,  Acts 16:18). Epaphras of Colossae, the Apostle’s fellow-worker in Rome ( Colossians 4:12), may have been the medium of introduction. Under St. Paul’s instruction and influence Onesimus became a Christian ( Philemon 1:10, ‘whom I have begotten in my bonds’). There must have been something very lovable about the fugitive slave, notwithstanding his blemished record; for the Apostle not only testifies to his faithfulness and helpfulness, but calls him a ‘beloved brother’ ( Colossians 4:9), his other self ( Philemon 1:17), ‘my very heart’ (lit.[Note: literally, literature.]‘my own bowels,’ τὰ ἐμὰ σπλάγχνα,  Philemon 1:12). As a Christian, Onesimus would realize more keenly his misdemeanour in absconding and perhaps stealing from Philemon; hence he appears to have readily acquiesced in St. Paul’s determination not to retain him, however ‘profitable,’ but to restore him to his lawful master. Onesimus, accordingly, returns to Colossae along with St. Paul’s colleague in the ministry, Tychicus ( Colossians 4:8-9), who, as a native of the province of Asia, would probably be known to Philemon, and would be an appropriate personal intercessor for Onesimus with Philemon on the Apostle’s behalf. To render certain, however, the friendly reception of Onesimus, St. Paul sends with the slave a letter to Philemon commending him as one to be received and permanently possessed (αἰώνιον ἀπέχῃς) ‘no longer as a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved.’

We have no reliable account of Onesimus’ subsequent history; but we may accept as in itself highly credible the tradition (Apost. Canons, 82) that Philemon not only forgave but emancipated his slave. More doubtful and also discordant are the records which represent Onesimus as attaining to the position of ‘bishop’ or presiding presbyter, in BerCEa, according to the Apost. Const. (vii. 46); in Ephesus, according to another tradition which identifies him with Onesimus, ‘bishop’ of Ephesus in the time of Ignatius (Ign. Ephesians 1; AS[Note: S Acta Sanctorum (Bollandus).], under 16th Feb.). A tradition (also embodied in the AS[Note: S Acta Sanctorum (Bollandus).]) represents him as journeying to Spain; and the apocryphal Acts of the Spanish Xanthippe and Polyxena are written in his name (see Texts and Studiesii. 3 [1893]). Nicephorus (9th cent.) transmits (Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.)iii. 11) a tradition that he was martyred at Rome; while another authority (Galesinius) describes that martyrdom as taking place at Puteoli (AS[Note: S Acta Sanctorum (Bollandus).], loc. cit.). The commonness of the name deprives these accounts of any historical reliability. F. W. Farrar, in Darkness and Dawn, ed. 1892, p. 79 ff., and the author of Philochristos (E. A. Abbott) in his Onesimus, 1882, give interesting fictitious accounts of what might have been the life-story of this slave.

Literature.-See under Philemon, Epistle to.

Henry Cowan.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [2]

A name well known in the New Testament, whose history is exceedingly interesting. His name, it should seem, is derived from the Greek, and means useful. And very useful hath the relation which is given of his conversion proved to the church in all ages ever since.

It appears from the short Epistle of Paul to Philemon, (which see) ( Philemon 1:1:1-25) that Onesimus was originally the slave or servant to Philemon. And though it is not expressly said in so many words that he robbed his master, yet from some expressions in Paul's letter, there seems great probability of it. Be this however as it may, certain it is that he ran from his master, and thereby manifested much worthlessness of conduct. In his wanderings he came to Rome, when Paul was there imprisoned the first time; and knowing the apostle while in his master's service, he visited the apostle in the prison. The Lord, who by his providence brought Onesimus to Paul, made this interview prosperous by his grace; and those visits ended, by the Lord's blessing, in the epistle Paul sent by him to his master Philemon relates those interesting circumstances. And as we find the Epistle to the church of the Colossians was sent from Rome by Onesimus, there is reason to conclude that Philemon sent him back to Paul to minister to him in the prison.

The epistle of Paul to Philemon is a master-piece for elegance and simplicity of style. Methinks it were devoutly to be wished, that all the followers of the Lord Jesus would form their letter-writing by this model. How truly blessed doth the epistle open, after subscribing himself as the prisoner of the Lord, in praying that grace and peace to Philemon might flow from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! And how blessedly doth the apostle close his letter, in a similar prayer, that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ might be with his spirit! Amen. And as the epistle opens and closeth in so sweet and gracious a spirit, so all the parts of it breathe every thing that is truly lovely and becoming the blessed Gospel of Christ.

But while I thus venture to recommend to myself and to others this style of writing. I beg yet more to remark the abundant grace of God the Holy Ghost, in causing such a blessed fragment of his sacred word to have been recorded and handed down in his church. Was it thought an object of everlasting moment thus to preserve in the book of God the history of a poor fugitive, and to let the church know that, in the instance of this slave, the Lord's grace outruns even all our undeservings? Was it indeed meant to shew in this, as well as in a thousand and ten thousand other instances, that "where sin aboundeth grace doth much more abound?"

What a precious example is held forth in this epistle to ministers of the word of God, to parents, masters of families, and all that are interested in the care and government of incautious youth, to feel what Paul felt, and to take an earnest concern in the recovery of transgression of every description and character! Did Paul count this runaway servant a brother, yea, his son, and speak of him as his own bowels, with what affection ought the ties of the minister and his people, the parent and his children, the master and his servant, to be felt and acknowledged in all the circumstances of life! How tenderly the same great apostle elsewhere recommends those gracious principles as the common actions of the christian! "Put on therefore (saith the apostle) as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another; if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." ( Colossians 3:12-13)

It is hardly possible, while thus naming the name of Jesus, and in this endearing character of his forgiveness, it is hardly possible to overlook how eminently the Lord himself stands forth in his high office of Intercessor for every Onisemus of his people, who, like this poor fugitive, have all run away from our Lord and master, and wandered from his service. If Paul found Onesimus, how much more hath Jesus found us in our lost estate, "for his mercy endureth for ever!" And if Paul's intercession was so prevalent with Philemon, what must the Lord Jesus's be with the Father!

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

("profitable".) Philemon's runaway slave, of Colosse ( Colossians 4:9, "one of you"), in whose behalf Paul wrote the epistle to Philemon:  Philemon 1:10-16. Slaves were numerous in Phrygia, from whence Paul dwells on the relative duties of masters and slaves ( Colossians 3:22;  Colossians 4:1). Paul's "son in the faith," begotten spiritually while Paul was a prisoner at Rome, where Onesimus hoped to escape detection amidst its vast population. Onesimus doubtless had heard the gospel before going to Rome, in Philemon's household, for at Paul's third missionary tour ( Acts 18:23) there were in Phrygia believers. Once unprofitable, by conversion Onesimus became really what his name implies, "profitable" to his master, to Paul, and to the church of God; "the faithful and beloved brother" of the apostle and of his master; godliness is profitable for both worlds, and makes men so ( 1 Timothy 4:8). Sent with Tychicus his safeguard, and put under the spiritual protection of the whole Colossian church and of Philemon. He probably had defrauded his master, as well as run away ( 1 Timothy 18); Paul offered to make good the loss.

The Apostolic Canons (73) make him to have been emancipated by Philemon. The Apostolic Constitutions (7:46) make him to have been consecrated bishop of Berea by Paul, and martyred at Rome. Ignatius (Ep. ad Ephes. i.) makes an Onesimus the Bishop of the Ephesians. Instead of violently convulsing society by stirring up slaves against their masters, Christianity introduces love, a principle sure to undermine slavery at last; "by christianizing the master, Christianity enfranchises the slave" (Wordsworth). Onesimus so endeared himself to Paul by Christian sympathy and by personal services that he calls him "mine own bowels," i.e. vitals: he bore for him a parent's intense affection for a child. Paul would gladly have kept him to minister to him, but delicate regard to Philemon's rights, and self denying love, made him waive his claims on Philemon and Onesimus ( Philemon 1:13-14;  Philemon 1:19). Onesimus "was parted" from his master "for a season" to become his "forever" in Christian bonds. In  Philemon 1:20 he plays again on the name, "let me have 'profit' (Greek Onaimen ) of thee in the Lord," "refresh my bowels," i.e. gratify my feelings by granting this.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

ONESIMUS . The name of the slave in whose behalf St. Paul wrote the Epistle to Philemon. As in his Epistle to the Colossians, St. Paul speaks of Onesimus as ‘one of you’ (  Colossians 4:9 ), we may infer that he was a native of Colossæ. His name means ‘profitable’ or ‘helpful’ not an uncommon name for slaves. The Apostle plays upon this word in his letter to Philemon  : ‘which in time past was unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me’ (  Philippians 1:11 ). He ran away from his master, probably after having robbed him (  Philippians 1:18 ). He fled to Rome, the common hiding-place of criminals. There in some way he came under the influence of St. Paul, and was by him converted to Christianity (  Philippians 1:10 ). There grew up a deep affection between the two (  Philippians 1:12 ). The Apostle would gladly have kept him to minister to him (  Philippians 1:13 ), but would not do so without the consent of Philemon, and therefore sends Onesimus back with the letter to obtain his master’s forgiveness and his permission to return to St. Paul.

Morley Stevenson.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [5]

was a Phrygian by nation, a slave to Philemon, and a disciple of the Apostle Paul. Onesimus having run away from his master, and also having robbed him,  Philippians 1:18 , went to Rome while St. Paul was there in prison the first time. As Onesimus knew him by repute, (his master Philemon being a Christian,) he sought him out. St. Paul brought him to a sense of the greatness of his crime, instructed him, baptized him, and sent him back to his master Philemon with a letter, inserted among St. Paul's epistles, which is universally acknowledged as canonical. This letter had all the good success he could desire. Philemon not only received Onesimus as a faithful servant, but rather as a brother and a friend. A little time after, he sent him back to Rome to St. Paul. that he might continue to be serviceable to him in his prison. And we see that after this Onesimus was employed to carry such epistles as the Apostle wrote at that time. He carried, for example, that which was written to the Colossians, while St. Paul was yet in his bonds.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Ones'imus. (Profitable, Useful). The name of the servant or slave, in whose behalf Paul wrote the Epistle to Philemon. He was a native, or certainly an inhabitant, of Colosse.  Colossians 4:9. (A.D. 58). He fled from his master end escaped to Rome, where he was led to embrace the gospel, through Paul's instrumentality. After his conversion, the most happy and friendly relations sprung up, between the teacher and disciple. Whether Paul desired his presence as a personal attendant, or as a minister of the gospel, is not certain from  Philemon 1:13 of the Epistle.

Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

 Genesis 38:16

Later, Onesimus accompanied Thychius in bearing Paul's letter to the church at Colossae ( Colossians 4:7-9 ). Two traditions connect Onesimus with a bishop of that name in the second-century church, and with Onesiphorus in  2 Timothy 1:16 . Neither connection has been proven satisfactorily. See Philemon .

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [8]

In New Testament times, households often included slaves, and many of these slaves became Christians. One slave who became a Christian was Onesimus.

Onesimus had worked in Colossae for a man named Philemon, but he ran away and came to Rome. There he met Paul and was converted. Paul knew Philemon, so when Onesimus decided to return to his master, Paul wrote a letter to Philemon, urging him to forgive Onesimus and receive him back (Philem 10-19; for details see Philemon ).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

Slave of Philemon, converted when with Paul, and sent back to his master not simply as a servant, but as 'a brother beloved.'  Colossians 4:9;  Philippians 10 . Christianity did not come in to set the world right thus: Onesimus was sent back to his master, and slaves are elsewhere exhorted to be faithful to their masters; but slavery is doubtless one of the fruits of man's sin.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

 Philippians 1:16,18

The story of this fugitive Colossian slave is a remarkable evidence of the freedom of access to the prisoner which was granted to all, and "a beautiful illustration both of the character of St. Paul and the transfiguring power and righteous principles of the gospel."

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [11]

Had been a slave to Philemon of Colosse, and had run away from him, and fled to Rome; but being converted to Christianity through preaching of Paul, he was the occasion of Paul's writing the epistle to Philemon,  Colossians 4:9   Philippians 1:10 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [12]

Onesimus ( O-Nĕs'I-Mŭs ), Useful. A slave of Philemon, In whose behalf Paul wrote the Epistle to Philemon.  Colossians 4:9.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

( Ο᾿Μἡσιμος , Profitable ) is the name of the servant or slave in whose behalf Paul wrote the Epistle to Philemon (Philippians 10;  Colossians 4:9). A.D. 58. He was a native, or certainly an inhabitant, of Colosss, since Paul, in writing to the Church there, speaks of him ( Colossians 4:9) as Ὅς Ἐστιν Ἐξ Ὑμῶν , "one of you." This expression confirms the presumption which his Greek name affords that he was a Gentile, and not a Jew, as some have argued from Μάλιστα Ἐμοί in Philippians 16. Slaves were numerous in Phrygia, and the name itself of Phrygian was almost synonymous with that of slave. Hence it happened that in writing to the Colossians ( Colossians 3:22 to  Colossians 4:1) Paul had occasion to instruct them concerning the duties of masters and servants to each other. Onesimus was one of this unfortunate class of persons, as is evident both from the manifest implication in Οὐκέτι Ὠς Δοῦλον in Philippians 16, and from the general tenor of the epistle. There appears to have been no difference of opinion on this point among the ancient commentators, and there is none of any critical weight among the modern. The man escaped from his master and fled to Rome, where in the midst of its vast population he could hope to be concealed, and to baffle the efforts which were so often made in such cases for retaking the fugitive (Walter, Die Geschichte des Romans Rechts, 2:63 sq.). It must have been to Rome that he directed his way, and not to Caesarea, as some contend; for the latter view stands connected with an indefensible opinion respecting the place whence the letter was written (see Neander, Pflanzung, 2:506).

Whether Onesimus had any other motive for the flight than the natural love of liberty, we have not the means of deciding. It has been very generally supposed that he had committed some offense, as theft or embezzlement, and feared the punishment of his guilt. This is grounded upon Ἠδίκησε , in Philippians 18, in connection with the context; the meaning, however, is somewhat uncertain (see Notes in Ep. To Philippians by the Amer. Bible Union, p. 60). Commentators at all events go entirely beyond the evidence when they assert (as Conybeare, Life And Epistles Of Paul, 2:467) that he belonged to the dregs of society that he robbed his master, and confessed the sin to Paul. Though it may be doubted whether Onesimus heard the Gospel for the first time at Rome, it is beyond question that he was led to embrace the Gospel there through the apostle's instrumentality. The language in Philippians 18:10 of the letter ( Ὃν Ἐγέννησα Ἐν Τοῖς Δεσμοῖς Μου ) is explicit on this point. As there were believers in Phrygia when the apostle passed through that region on his third missionary tour ( Acts 18:23), and as Onesimus belonged to a Christian household (Philippians 2), it is not improbable that he knew something of the Christian doctrine before he went to Rome.

How long a time elapsed between his escape and conversion we cannot decide; for Πρὸς É Ραν in the 15th verse, to which appeal has been made, is purely a relative expression, and will not justify any inference as to the interval in question'. After his conversion the most happy and friendly relations sprung up between the teacher and the disciple. The situation of the apostle as a captive and an indefatigable laborer for the promotion of the Gospel ( Acts 28:30-31) must have made him keenly alive to the sympathies of Christian friendship, and dependent upon others for various services of a personal nature, important to his efficiency as a minister of the Word. Onesimus appears to have supplied this twofold want in an eminent degree. We see from the letter that he won entirely the apostle's heart, and made himself so useful to him in various private ways, or evinced such a capacity to be so (for he may have gone back to Colossae soon after his conversion), that Paul wished to have him remain constantly with him. Whether he desired his presence as a personal attendant or as a minister of the Gospel is not certain from Ι῞Να Διακονῇ in  Acts 28:13 of the epistle. Be this as it may, Paul's attachment to him as a disciple, as a personal friend, and as a helper to him in his bonds, was such that he yielded him up only in obedience to that spirit of self-denial, and that sensitive regard for the feelings or the rights of others, of which his conduct on this occasion displayed so noble an example. Onesimus, accompanied by Tychicus, left Rome with not only this epistle, but with that to the Colossians ( Colossians 4:9). It is believed that Onesimus, anxious to justify the confidence which Paul reposed in him, by appearing speedily before his master, left Tychicus to take the Epistle to the Ephesians, and hastened to Colossae, where he doubtless received the forgiveness which Paul had so touchingly implored for him as "a brother beloved" ( Canon. Apost. 73).

There is but little to add to this account, when we pass beyond the limits of the New Testament. The traditionary notices which have come down to us are too few and too late to amount to much as historical testimony. Some of the later fathers assert that Onesimus was set free, and was subsequently ordained bishop of Bercea, in Macedonia (Constit. Apost. 7:46). The person of the same name mentioned as bishop of Ephesus in the first epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians (Hefele, Patrum Apost. Opp. p. 152) was a different person (Winer, Realw. 2:175). (See St Onesimus). It is related also that Onesimus finally made his way to Rome again, and ended his days there as a martyr during the persecution under Nero. His name is found in the Roman martyrology under date of March 2, 95.

We mistake if we consider that the occasion on which Paul interfered was really small. Throughout the Roman empire the number of the enslaved was perhaps seven times the number of the free. It was important that a practical exemplification should be given by Paul himself of the meaning of his own language, that in the new creation there is "neither bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all." There is no violent interference with the prescriptive rights of ownership which Philemon had acquired; Paul gently states that while his natural impulse was to retain Onesimus for the sake of his services (Philippians 13), yet, apart from Philemon's consent, he would forego the comfort which the presence of such a Christian brother was able to impart. Yet the language in which Paul speaks of Onesimus clearly shows that Philemon could no longer maintain those rights without forfeiting his Christian character. Slavery is nowhere expressly condemned in Scripture any more than polygamy; the duty of emancipating slaves is not expressly inculcated any more than the duty of family worship. The influence of vital Christianity implicitly forbids the permanency of a system which defeats the apostle's injunction: "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven." Where the owner is Christianized, the bondsman is enfranchised. The interference of Paul in behalf of Onesimus may thus be considered a divine act of emancipation, illustrating the legitimate and necessary influence of Christian principle. Amid all the defects and corruptions of the Christian Church we can discover proofs of its divine origin in every age and in every clime, by its tendency to build the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke; the Church has very generally felt that the command, "He who loveth God should love his brother also," strikes at the root of a system which severs the domestic relations of husband and wife, of parent and child, while it blasts the oppressor with the blinding and hardening effects of arbitrary rule and irresponsible power. (See Philemon).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

- nes´i - mus ( Ὀνήσιμος , Onḗsimos , literally, "profitable," "helpful" (  Colossians 4:9;  Philippians 1:10 )):

1. With Paul in Rome:

Onesimus was a slave ( Philippians 1:16 ) belonging to Philemon who was a wealthy citizen of Colosse, and a prominent member of the church there. Onesimus was still a heathen when he defrauded his master and ran off from Colosse. He found his way to Rome, where evil men tended to flock as to a common center, as Tacitus tells us they did at that period. In Rome he came into contact with Paul, who was then in his own hired house, in military custody.

What brought him into contact with Paul we do not know. It may have been hunger; it may have been the pangs of conscience. He could not forget that his master's house in Colosse was the place where the Christians met in their weekly assemblies for the worship of Christ. Neither could he forget how Philemon had many a time spoken of Paul, to whom he owed his conversion. Now that Onesimus was in Rome - what a strange coincidence - P aul also was in Rome.

The result of their meeting was that Onesimus was converted to Christ, through the instrumentality of the apostle ("my child, whom I have begotten in my bonds,"  Philippians 1:10 ). His services had been very acceptable to Paul, who would gladly have kept Onesimus with him; but as he could not do this without the knowledge and consent of Philemon, he sent Onesimus back to Colosse, to his master there.

2. Paul's Epistles to Colosse and to Philemon:

At the same time Paul wrote to the church in Colosse on other matters, and he entrusted the Epistle to the Colossians to the joint care of Tychicus and Onesimus. The apostle recommends Onesimus to the brethren in Colosse, as a "faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you," and he goes on to say that Tychicus and Onesimus will make known to them all things that have happened to Paul in Rome. Such a commendation would greatly facilitate' Onesimus's return to Colosse.

But Paul does more. He furnishes Onesimus with a letter written by himself to Philemon. Returning to a city where it was well known that he had been neither a Christian nor even an honest man, he needed someone to vouch for the reality of the change which had taken place in his life. And Paul does this for him both in the Epistle to the Colossians and in that to Philemon.

With what exquisite delicacy is Onesimus introduced! 'Receive him,' says the apostle, 'for he is my own very heart' ( Philippians 1:12 ). "The man whom the Colossians had only known hitherto, if they knew him all, as a worthless runaway slave, is thus commended to them, as no more a slave but a brother, no more dishonest and faithless but trustworthy; no more an object of contempt but of love" (Lightfoot's Commentary on Col , 235).

(1) Onesimus Profitable.

The apostle accordingly begs Philemon to give Onesimus the same reception as he would rejoice to give to himself. The past history of Onesimus had been such as to belie the meaning of his name. He had not been "profitable" - far from it. But already his consistent conduct in Rome and his willing service to Paul there have changed all that; he has been profitable to Paul, and he will be profitable to Philemon too.

(2) Paul Guarantees.

Onesimus had evidently stolen his master's goods before leaving Colosse, but in regard to that the apostle writes that if he has defrauded Philemon in anything, he becomes his surety. Philemon can regard Paul's handwriting as a bond guaranteeing payment: "Put that to mine account," are his words, "I will repay it." Had Philemon not been a Christian, and had Paul not written this most beautiful letter, Onesimus might well have been afraid to return. In the Roman empire slaves were constantly crucified for smaller offenses than those of which he had been guilty. A thief and a runaway had nothing but torture or death to expect.

(3) The Change Which Christ Makes.

But now under the sway of Christ all is changed. The master who has been defrauded now owns allegiance to Jesus. The letter, which is delivered to him by his slave, is written by a bound "prisoner of Jesus Christ." The slave too is now a brother in Christ, beloved by Paul: surely he will be beloved by Philemon also. Then Paul intimates that he hopes soon to be set free, and then he will come and visit them in Colosse. Will Philemon receive him into his house as his guest?

(4) The Result.

It cannot be imagined that this appeal in behalf of Onesimus was in vain. Philemon would do more than Paul asked; and on the apostle's visit to Colosse he would find the warmest welcome, both from Philemon and from Onesimus.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

One´simus (profitable), a slave belonging to Philemon of Colosse, who fled from his master, and proceeded to Rome, where he was converted by St. Paul, who sent him back to his master, a friend and convert of the apostle, with an eloquent letter, the purport of which is described in the article Philemon, Epistle to. Onesimus, accompanied by Tychicus, left Rome with not only this epistle, but with those to the Ephesians and Colossians . It is believed that Onesimus, anxious to justify the confidence which Paul reposed in him, by appearing speedily before his master, left Tychicus to take the Epistle to the Ephesians; and hastened to Colosse where he doubtless received the forgiveness which Paul had so touchingly implored for him as 'a brother beloved.' An uncertain tradition makes Onesimus to have been bishop of Berea, where he is said to have suffered martyrdom. The part which Paul took in this difficult and trying case is highly honorable to him; while for Onesimus himself, the highest praise is, that he obtained the friendship and confidence of the apostle.