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Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary

profitable; useful

Smith's Bible Dictionary

(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 verse 13 of the epistle.

ATS Bible Dictionary

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 Philemon 1:10.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
Useful, a slave who, after robbing his master Philemon (q.v.) at Colosse, fled to Rome, where he was converted by the apostle Paul, who sent him back to his master with the epistle which bears his name. In it he beseeches Philemon to receive his slave as a "faithful and beloved brother." Paul offers to pay to Philemon anything his slave had taken, and to bear the wrong he had done him. He was accompanied on his return by Tychicus, the bearer of the Epistle to the Colossians (Philemon 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."

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

o-nes'-i-mus (Onesimos, literally, "profitable," "helpful" (Colossians 4:9 Philemon 1:10)):

1. With Paul in Rome:

Onesimus was a slave (Philemon 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-Paul 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," Philemon 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' (Philemon 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 Colossians, 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.

John Rutherfurd

3682. Onesimos -- "useful," Onesimus, a Christian
... "useful," Onesimus, a ... Word Origin from onesis (use, profit, advantage) Definition
"useful," Onesimus, a Christian NASB Word Usage Onesimus (2). Onesimus. ...
// - 6k

The Epistle to Philemon
... Rather than command Philemon the apostle comes to him with a request, viz, that
he receive back the converted slave Onesimus and forgive him his wrong-doing. ...
/.../drummond/introduction to the new testament/the epistle to philemon.htm

The Epistle to Philemon.
... It was a letter of recommendation of Onesimus (ie, Profitable), [1187] a slave of
Philemon, who had run away from his master on account of some offence ...
/.../schaff/history of the christian church volume i/section 98 the epistle to.htm

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom,
... And it is evident from hence; that in the Epistle to Philemon he says, "Being such
an one as Paul the aged" (ver.9.), and makes request for Onesimus; but in ...
/.../homilies of st john chrysostom 2.htm

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on ...
... This excellent [1531] man, then, had a certain slave named Onesimus. This Onesimus,
having stolen something from his master, had run away. ...
/.../homilies of st john chrysostom 4.htm

The Supremacy of Christ
... (c) Renewed exhortations to prayer and watchfulness. 4. Conclusion (4:7-18). (a)
The mission of Tychicus and Onesimus, the greetings of the companions of Paul ...
/.../sell/bible studies in the life of paul/study ix the supremacy of.htm

In Rome
... Among those who gave their hearts to God through the labors of Paul in Rome was
Onesimus, a pagan slave who had wronged his master, Philemon, a Christian ...
// acts of the apostles/lesson 43 in rome.htm

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on ...
... For in writing to the Colossians, he says, "All my state shall Tychicus declare
unto you, whom I have sent with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother ...
/.../chrysostom/homilies on acts and romans/homilies of st john chrysostom.htm

The Epistle to the Ephesians
... To all appearances it was merely the prospective departure of Tychicus and Onesimus
for Colossae, 6: 21, 22; Col.4: 7-9, combined with the intelligence that ...
/.../drummond/introduction to the new testament/the epistle to the ephesians.htm

To the Ephesians
... Four delegates, including the modest and retiring bishop Onesimus, had been sent
by the neighboring Ephesian church to greet and encourage the martyr. ...
/...// christian fathers/to the ephesians.htm

Praise of the Ephesians.
... I received, therefore, [494] your whole multitude in the name of God, through Onesimus,
a man of inexpressible love, [495] and your bishop in the flesh, whom I ...
/.../the epistle of ignatius to the ephesians/chapter i praise of the ephesians.htm

Onesimus (2 Occurrences)
... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. ONESIMUS. o ... there. Onesimus was still a heathen
when he defrauded his master and ran off from Colosse. ...
/o/onesimus.htm - 12k

Philemon (2 Occurrences)
... Philemon, Epistle to. Was written from Rome at the same time as the epistles
to the Colossians and Ephesians, and was sent also by Onesimus. ...
/p/philemon.htm - 17k

Ones'imus (2 Occurrences)
Ones'imus. Onesimus, Ones'imus. Onesiphorus . ... Philemon 1:10 I entreat thee
concerning my child -- whom I did beget in my bonds -- Onesimus, (See RSV). ...
/o/ones'imus.htm - 6k

Tychicus (5 Occurrences)
... He was then to proceed to Colosse, with the Epistle to the church there. In Colosse
Tychicus would plead the cause of Onesimus, who accompanied him from Rome. ...
/t/tychicus.htm - 14k

Oneself (10 Occurrences)

/o/oneself.htm - 9k

Laodiceans (2 Occurrences)
... These two are sister epistles, and these along with the Epistle to Philemon were
written and sent off at the same time, Onesimus and Tychicus carrying the ...
/l/laodiceans.htm - 28k

Yoke-fellow (1 Occurrence)
... It is obvious to compare the way in which the apostle plays upon the name Onesimus,
in Philemon 1:11. John Rutherfurd. Multi-Version Concordance ...
/y/yoke-fellow.htm - 9k

... as in name. It is obvious to compare the way in which the apostle plays
upon the name Onesimus, in Philemon 1:11. John Rutherfurd. ...
/y/yokefellow.htm - 9k

Well-loved (8 Occurrences)
... for us, (BBE). Colossians 4:9 And with him I have sent Onesimus, the true
and well-loved brother, who is one of you. They will give ...
/w/well-loved.htm - 8k

Inform (24 Occurrences)
... We are ready to kill him before he comes near." (WEB NIV). Colossians 4:9 And with
him I send our dear and trusty brother Onesimus, who is one of yourselves. ...
/i/inform.htm - 14k

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