Saint Onesimus
Holy Apostle Onesimus</br>Bishop of Byzantium
Born unknown
Died ca. 90 AD, Rome (then Roman province)
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Feast February 16 (Gregorian calendar), February 28, (Julian calendar)

Saint Onesimus (d. ca. 90 AD) (Greek: Ὀνήσιμος, meaning "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 [1], there, he heard the Gospel from Paul and converted to Christianity. Paul, having earlier converted 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 [2]). The letter read (in part):

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.

Paul of Tarsus to Philemon, Epistle to Philemon 1:10-16 (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[3]).

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

See also

Preceded by
Stachys the Apostle
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by
Polycarpus I of Byzantium
gl:Onésimo, bispo de Bizancioka:ონისიმე (სამოცდაათთაგანი)pt:Onésimo de Constantinopla

ru:Онисим (апостол от 70) sr:Онисим sv:Onesimos uk:Святий Онисим

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