Onesimus, in the New Testament, runaway slave about whom Paul wrote the epistle to Philemon.
Saint Onesimus (d. ca. 90-95) (Greek for "useful", also called Onesimus of Byzantium and The Holy Apostle Onesimus in some Eastern Orthodox churches) was a slave to Philemon of Colossae, a man of Christian faith. Eventually, Onesimus transgressed against Philemon and fled to the site of Paul the Apostle's imprisonment (most probably Rome or Ephesus) to escape punishment for a theft he had committed , there, he heard the Gospel from St. Paul and converted to Christianity . Paul, having earlier converted St. Philemon to Christianity, reconciled with the two and wrote a letter to Philemon (which today exists in the New Testament as the Epistle to Philemon ). The letter read;
I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this is perhaps why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord

|30px|30px|Paul the Apostle to Philemon|Epistle to Philemon (ESV)

Due to this epistle from Paul, Philemon indeed accepted Onesimus as a brother and freed him of slavery. Although it is doubted by some authorities, it may well be that this Onesimus was the same one consecrated a bishop by the Apostles and accepted the episcopal throne in Ephesus following the Apostle Timothy. During the reign of Roman emperor Domitian and the persecution of Trajan, Onesimus was imprisoned in Rome and martyred by stoning (although some sources claim that he was beheaded ).

He is regarded as a saint by several Christian churches, including the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, which commemorates him and Philemon on February 15.

Reference in popular culture

  • The engine of Jill of the Jungle 3: Jill Saves the Prince was licensed to a company called "ArK Multimedia Publishing" and used for a Christian-themed game called "Onesimus: A Quest for Freedom". Most of the graphics from the original game were recycled into "Onesimus", which is also known as "Escape From Rome". The protagonist was a slave of Philemon who had to travel to Rome to find the apostle Paul and find true freedom as a Christian. Interestingly, while it seems to be that Jill Saves the Prince (along with the rest of the trilogy) was developed first, references to Onesimus can be found in the string section and level code of the Jill games. However, the credits for Onesimus include a "thanks" to the Epic MegaGames staff, which suggests that "Onesimus" was developed either simultaneously with Jill of the Jungle 3 or developed immediately after it. No other reasonable explanation exists for the presence of the "Onesimus" references in Jill 3's code.

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