Onesimus, whose name means “useful,” is the focus of Paul’s Letter to Philemon. From Paul’s words it appears that Onesimus had run away from his master, Philemon. Onesimus met Paul and was converted to Christianity. Paul sent the slave back to Philemon along with his letter, which requests that Philemon take back Onesimus not as a slave but as a brother. The reference to Onesimus in Colossians 4:9 describes him as a faithful brother and “one of you,” indicating he may indeed have been freed and served faithfully in the church.
Slave of Philemon for whom Paul appealed in his Letter to Philemon