Reopening the Case of Onesimus

by Neil Cox, 07/2023

In the letter to the Colossians, Paul specially mandates that they exchange letters with the Laodiceans.  Where is that letter to the Laodiceans?

The letter to Philemon & friends is often retold as the story of a fugitive slave, now needing the forgiveness of his master.  But is that what scripture actually says?

In the attached paper, I will make 3 key assertions and back them up with compelling evidence:

  • The epistle we know as 'Philemon' is in fact the Letter to the Laodiceans mentioned in Colossians 4.
  • There is no credible evidence supporting the meme that Onesimus was a thief or runaway slave.  More likely, just the opposite. 
  • Paul's message to Philemon & friends is not at all about 'forgiveness'. Absent our biases, we realize Paul's twin letters to Colossae and Laodicea teach us much about biblical justice. 

I know these points run contrary to the standard commentaries -- typically written from a majority viewpoint.  But what happens if we take a fresh look at the scriptural evidence, holding it to the level of evidence we would apply in any courtroom.  Will those old memes stand up under scrutiny?  You decide.  Read on...

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