Who Wrote the Book of Philemon

Who Wrote the Book of Philemon?

The New Testament of the Bible contains a diverse collection of writings, including letters, gospels, and other works attributed to various authors. One such book is the Book of Philemon, a short letter addressed to a man named Philemon. The authorship of this book has been a subject of debate among scholars for centuries. In this article, we will explore the possible authors of the Book of Philemon and the evidence supporting their claims.

Possible Authors of the Book of Philemon

The traditional view of authorship suggests that the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Philemon. This view is based on the internal evidence found within the letter itself. Philemon is mentioned in several of Paul’s other letters, such as Colossians (4:9) and Philippians (2:25). Additionally, the writing style and theological themes present in the Book of Philemon align with Paul’s other writings.

However, some scholars argue against Pauline authorship. They claim that the writing style and vocabulary of the Book of Philemon differ significantly from Paul’s other letters. These scholars suggest that the author may have been one of Paul’s followers, writing in his name to address a specific situation. One possible candidate is Timothy, Paul’s co-worker and companion mentioned in several of his letters.

Another theory proposes that the author of the Book of Philemon was a different Pauline author, such as Silas or Titus. These individuals were known to have worked closely with Paul and may have written the letter under his guidance or supervision.

While the debate surrounding the authorship of the Book of Philemon continues, it is important to note that regardless of the author, the book is considered canonical and holds significance within the Christian tradition.

Evidence for Pauline Authorship

Although some scholars question Pauline authorship, there is compelling evidence supporting the traditional view. Firstly, the letter’s content aligns with Paul’s teachings on topics such as forgiveness, reconciliation, and the equality of believers. Furthermore, the author refers to himself as Paul, suggesting that he intended to write in Paul’s name.

Additionally, the personal connection between Paul and Philemon provides further evidence for Pauline authorship. The letter addresses Philemon as a beloved brother and mentions their shared bond in Christ. This intimate relationship suggests that the author was someone close to Paul, such as Timothy or another co-worker.

Lastly, the historical context in which the Book of Philemon was written supports Pauline authorship. The letter mentions Paul’s imprisonment, which is consistent with his known imprisonment in Rome. This aligns with the chronological and geographical details found in Paul’s other letters.


Q: What is the purpose of the Book of Philemon?
A: The Book of Philemon is a personal letter written by the author to Philemon, urging him to receive his runaway slave, Onesimus, with forgiveness and love. The letter serves as an example of Christian love and reconciliation.

Q: When was the Book of Philemon written?
A: The exact date of the letter’s composition is uncertain. However, it is believed to have been written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, which occurred between AD 60 and 62.

Q: Why is the authorship of the Book of Philemon debated?
A: The debate surrounding the authorship of the Book of Philemon arises from differences in writing style and vocabulary compared to Paul’s other letters. Some scholars argue that these differences suggest a different author, while others attribute them to unique circumstances or the use of an amanuensis (a secretary who wrote on behalf of the author).

Q: Does the authorship of the Book of Philemon affect its significance?
A: The authorship of the Book of Philemon does not diminish its significance within the Christian tradition. Regardless of who wrote it, the book offers profound teachings on forgiveness, reconciliation, and the power of Christian love.

In conclusion, the authorship of the Book of Philemon remains a subject of scholarly debate. While the traditional view attributes the book to the Apostle Paul, some argue for alternative authors such as Timothy or a different Pauline associate. Despite the ongoing discussion, the Book of Philemon holds its place within the New Testament canon and offers valuable insights into Christian love and forgiveness.

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