The recipient of this Epistle is Feeláymohn, a slave master and resident of Kohlohssaí (Colosse) and the host of the Colossian church, which meets in his house (1:2). His son, Arkheéppohs (v. 2) was a fellow soldier of Paul and a deacon of the Colossian church (Col. 4:17).
The writer to Feeláymohn was also the Apostle Paul, whom God used to write fourteen New Testament Books (see Notes on First Thessalonians, page 536).
This Epistle to Feeláymohn, falls into two categories: Personal Epistles and Prison Epistles since it was written during his Roman imprisonment.
Internal evidence to Paul’s authorship is clear both by the accepted title that bears his name and the text. He identifies himself in his opening greeting (v. 1), again in his appeal to Feeláymohn love for Paul, an aged man and prisoner of Jesus Christ (vs. 9,13), and later as guarantor for any debt Ohnáy-seemohs (Onesimus) incurred (v. 19). He also refers to his bonds (v. 10) and expresses expectation of release and a future visit to Feeláymohn (v. 22).
External evidence comes from the writings of the "Church fathers" (patristic tradition of the early Church). The Muratorian Canon (A.D. 160-200): "For the Epistles of Paul . . . he wrote to not more than seven churches, . . . He wrote besides these one to Philemon, . . . These were written in personal affection; but they have been hallowed by being held in honour by the Catholic Church for the regulation of Church discipline." There is no contradictory evidence found in the early church, but Paul’s authorship was an accepted fact and never doubted until the eighteenth century.
Dating of Feeláymohn is determined by the fact that Paul was in prison (vs. 1,9,10,13,23). Both the Philippian (1:1) and the Colossian (1:1) Epistles as well as this one to Feeláymohn were all coauthored by Paul and Timothy and along with Ephesians, which Paul authored alone, were all written during the two-year imprisonment at Rome (cf. Notes on Colossians, page 528) A.D. 61-63. Feeláymohn was written about the same time as Colossians or shortly thereafter in mid A.D. 62.
The Purpose of Paul is to appeal to a Christian slave-master to restore and accept the runaway slave, Ohnáy-seemohs. In the New Testament, slavery is not specifically condemned, but Christian influence has removed it.
Characteristics include: personal and appealing; private; tactful and courteous; doctrinal (imputation); merciful; and ethical.
The Book may be outlined as follows:
I. The Salutation of Paul’s Letter (vs. 1-3).
II. The Sanction of Feelaymohn’s Life (vs. 4-7).
III. The Solicitation of Feelaymohn’s Love (vs. 8-22).
IV. The Salutations of Paul’s Fellow Laborers (vs. 23,24).
V. The Sentiments of Paul’s Longing (v. 25).