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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Philemon - Introduction

The apostle Paul, according to 1 Clem. 5, 5–6, was ‘in chains’ seven times. In 2 Cor 11:23 , Paul himself boasts of having experienced ‘far more imprisonments’ than his detractors. Ironically, the one who had formerly imprisoned Christians (cf. Acts 8:3; 22:4; 26:10 ) frequently found himself incarcerated. During one such experience, he wrote to Philemon and the church that was in his house. Only twenty-five verses long, Paul's letter is replete with rhetorical dissonance, subtlety, and wordplay. The epistle offers little insight into its provenance or dating. Whether it was written in Rome, Ephesus, Philippi, or elsewhere is not of primary concern. Whether it was written towards the end of Paul's life or towards the beginning of his mission is not revealed. Rather, the most salient aspects of the letter are Paul's rhetoric and his imprisonment (cf. vv. 10, 13, 22 ).

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Oxford University Press

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