Onesimus

Last updated
Onesimus
Bishop of Byzantium
Installed54
Term ended68
Personal details
DenominationEarly Christianity
Saint Onesimus
Onesimus of Byzantium (Menologion of Basil II).jpg
Painting depicting death of Onesimus, from the Menologion of Basil II (c. 1000 AD)
Holy Disciple Onesimus
Bishop of Byzantium
Diedc. AD 68 or AD 81-95
Rome (then Roman province)
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Lutheranism
Feast February 15 or 16, or November 22 (Gregorian calendar), February 28 (Julian calendar)

Saint Onesimus (Greek : Ὀνήσιμος, translit.  Onēsimos, meaning "useful"; died c. 68 AD, according to Catholic tradition), [1] also called Onesimus of Byzantium and The Holy Apostle Onesimus in some Eastern Orthodox churches,[ who? ] was probably a slave [2] to Philemon of Colossae, a man of Christian faith. He may also be the same Onesimus named by Ignatius of Antioch (died c. 107) as bishop in Ephesus [3] which would put Onesimus's death closer to 95 A.D. Regardless, Onesimus went from slave to brother to Bishop.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Romanization of Greek is the transliteration (letter-mapping) or transcription (sound-mapping) of text from the Greek alphabet into the Latin alphabet. The conventions for writing and romanizing Ancient Greek and Modern Greek differ markedly, which can create confusion. The sound of the English letter B was written as β in ancient Greek but is now written as the digraph μπ, while the modern β sounds like the English letter V instead. The Greek name Ἰωάννης became Johannes in Latin and then John in English, but in Greek itself has instead become Γιάννης; this might be written as Yannis, Jani, Ioannis, Yiannis, or Giannis, but not Giannes or Giannēs as it would have been in ancient Greek. The masculine Greek word Ἅγιος or Άγιος might variously appear as Hagiοs, Agios, Aghios, or Ayios, or simply be translated as "Holy" or "Saint" in English forms of Greek placenames.

Church (building) Building used for Christian religious activities

A church building or church house, often simply called a church, is a building used for Christian religious activities, particularly for Christian worship services. The term is often used by Christians to refer to the physical buildings where they worship, but it is sometimes used to refer to buildings of other religions. In traditional Christian architecture, a church interior is often structured in the shape of a Christian cross. When viewed from plan view the vertical beam of the cross is represented by the center aisle and seating while the horizontal beam and junction of the cross is formed by the bema and altar.

Contents

In Scripture

The name "Onesimus" appears in two New Testament epistles—in Colossians 4 and in Philemon. In Colossians 4:9 [4] a person of this name is identified as a Christian accompanying Tychicus to visit the Christians in Colossae; nothing else is stated about him in this context. He may well be the freed Onesimus from the Epistle to Philemon.

Tychicus Companion of the Apostle Paul

Tychicus was an Asiatic Christian who, with Trophimus, accompanied the Apostle Paul on a part of his journey from Macedonia to Jerusalem. He is also alluded to have been with Paul in Rome, where the apostle sent him to Ephesus, probably for the purpose of building up and encouraging the church there. In the New Testament, he is mentioned five times.

Colossae was an ancient city of Phrygia in Asia Minor, and one of the most celebrated cities of southern Anatolia. The Epistle to the Colossians, an early Christian text traditionally attributed to Paul the Apostle, is addressed to the church in Colossae. A significant city from the 5th century BC onwards, it had dwindled in importance by the time of Paul, but was notable for the existence of its local angel cult. It was part of the Roman – and then Byzantine – province of Phrygia Pacatiana, before being destroyed in 1192/3 and its population relocating to nearby Chonai.

Epistle to Philemon book of the Bible

The Epistle of Paul to Philemon, known simply as Philemon, is one of the books of the Christian New Testament. It is a prison letter, co-authored by Paul the Apostle with Timothy, to Philemon, a leader in the Colossian church. It deals with the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation. Paul does not identify himself as an apostle with authority, but as "a prisoner of Jesus Christ", calling Timothy "our brother", and addressing Philemon as "fellow labourer" and "brother." Onesimus, a slave that had departed from his master Philemon, was returning with this epistle wherein Paul asked Philemon to receive him as a "brother beloved."

The Epistle to Philemon was written by Paul the Apostle to Philemon concerning a person believed to be a runaway slave named Onesimus. The traditional designation of Onesimus as a slave is doubted by some modern scholars. [5] Onesimus found his way to the site of Paul's imprisonment (most probably Rome or Caesarea) [6] to escape punishment for a theft of which he was accused. [7] After hearing the Gospel from Paul, Onesimus converted to Christianity. Paul, having earlier converted Philemon to Christianity, sought to reconcile the two by writing the letter to Philemon which today exists in the New Testament. [8] . The letter reads (in part):

Paul the Apostle Early Christian apostle and missionary

Paul the Apostle, commonly known as Saint Paul and also known by his Jewish name Saul of Tarsus, was an apostle who taught the gospel of Christ to the first-century world. Paul is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age and in the mid-30s to the mid-50s AD he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. He took advantage of his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to minister to both Jewish and Roman audiences.

Rome Capital of Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio regionWith 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Caesarea Place in Haifa, Israel

Caesarea, named in Hebrew: קֵיסָרְיָה, Keysariya or Qesarya, often simplified to Keisarya, and Qaysaria, is a town in north-central Israel, which inherits its name and much of its territory from the ancient city of Caesarea Maritima. Located midway between Tel Aviv and Haifa on the coastal plain near the city of Hadera, it falls under the jurisdiction of Hof HaCarmel Regional Council. With a population of 5,170, it is the only Israeli locality managed by a private organization, the Caesarea Development Corporation, and also one of the most populous localities not recognized as a local council.

I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary. For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

In tradition

Although it is doubted by authorities such as Joseph Fitzmyer, [9] it may be the case that this Onesimus was the same one consecrated a bishop by the Apostles and who accepted the episcopal throne in Ephesus [10] following Saint Timothy. During the reign of Roman emperor Domitian and the persecution of Trajan, Onesimus was imprisoned in Rome and may have been martyred by stoning (although some sources claim that he was beheaded). However, since the reign of Domitian was from 81 A.D. to 96 A.D., then Onesimus' death would have to fall within these years and not 68 A.D. as stated above.

Joseph Augustine Fitzmyer was an American Catholic priest of the Society of Jesus and professor emeritus at The Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC.

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople position

The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople–New Rome and ranks as primus inter pares among the heads of the several autocephalous churches that make up the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is widely regarded as the representative and spiritual leader of the 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide. The term Ecumenical in the title is a historical reference to the Ecumene, a Greek designation for the civilised world, i.e. the Roman Empire, and it stems from Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon.

In liturgy

Onesimus is regarded as a saint by many Christian denominations. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod commemorates him and Philemon on February 15. [11]

Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Traditional, confessional Lutheran Christian denomination in the United States

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), often referred to simply as the Missouri Synod, is a traditional, confessional Lutheran denomination in the United States. With slightly under 2.0 million members, it is the second-largest Lutheran body in the United States. The LCMS was organized in 1847 at a meeting in Chicago, Illinois, as the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, a name which reflected the geographic locations of the founding congregations.

Eastern Churches remember Onesimus on 15 February and 22 November. [12]

The traditional Western commemoration of Onesimus is on 16 February. [13] But in the 2004 edition of the Roman Martyrology , Onesimus is listed under 15 February. There, he is described as "[a] runaway slave, whom the apostle Paul received to the faith of Christ while in prison, regarding him as a son of whom he had become father, as he himself wrote to Philemon, Onesimus's master". [14]

See also

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References

  1. "Onesimus". Ecumenic Patriarchate of Constantinople. Retrieved Apr 2, 2011.
  2. Philemon 1:15-16. For perhaps [Onesimus] was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. (NASB)
  3. Ignatius of Antioch (1919) [1900]. The Epistles of St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch. Translated by James Herbert Srawley (3rd ed.). Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. pp. 39–40. ... Onesimus, whose love surpasses words, in the flesh as your bishop. I pray that you may love him with a love according to Jesus Christ, and that you may all be like him. For blessed is He Who granted unto you, worthy as you are, to possess such a bishop. (chapter 1)
  4. Christian Bible: Colossians 4:9
  5. http://www.scielo.org.za/pdf/vee/v30n1/14.pdf
  6. 'The Letter to Philemon', Joseph A. Fitzmyer S.J., paragraph 5, pages 869-870 The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1989, Geoffrey Chapman
  7. Saint Onesimus at SQPN website
  8. Christian Bible: Philemon verses 19-16
  9. Fitzmyer paragraph 4
  10. The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians
  11. Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Lutheran Worship. Concordia Publishing House, 1982, updated by the same church's Lutheran Service Book. Concordia Publishing House, 2006.
  12. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2nd edition, E. A. Livingstone, 2000, Oxford University Press, p. 414.
  13. Livingstone (2000), p. 414
  14. Martyrologium Romanum, 2004, Vatican Press (Typis Vaticanis), p. 150.
Titles of the Great Christian Church
Preceded by
Stachys the Apostle
Bishop of Byzantium
54–68
Succeeded by
Polycarpus I of Byzantium