Onesimus, a slave of Philemon in Colossae, fled to Rome and became a Christian under Paul’s ministry during his first imprisonment in Rome (60-62). From Rome, Paul sent a personal letter to Philemon that called upon him to receive Onesimus, his runaway slave, back as a brother in Christ (Philemon 1:8-16). The Philemon letter was carried to Colossae by Tychicus and Onesimus (Colossians 4:7-9).

It is possible that Onesimus became the bishop of Ephesus after Timothy. In Ignatius’ letter to the church in Ephesus, he tells us that bishop Onesi- mus went to meet him in Smyrna when he was being taken to Rome. Onesi- mus was apparently beheaded for his faith in Christ.