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Philemon 1:23

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.

What was the charge?

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    As far as I am aware, the scriptures give no additional information as to why Epaphras was imprisoned. – agarza Jan 26 at 15:58
  • Another question for which there is no Scriptural data whatever. – Dottard Jan 26 at 20:17
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Background: Paul may have written his letter to Philemon at the same time as he wrote to the Colossians. This would be during his house arrest in Rome. We know that Philemon, a believer in Colosse, was a slave owner and that Onesimus had run away from him. Onesimus came to saving faith in Christ and Paul instructed him to return to his master. Tychicus accompanied Onesimus.

Additional information on Epaphras: While in Rome and writing to the Christians in Colosse, Paul speaks of his "fellow prisoner Aristarchus" and of Epaphras as "my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus" (Colossians 4:10-12).

Epaphras, who is one of you [the church in Colosse] and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you,that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.

We know from Acts 20:4 that Aristarchust (a Macedonian from Thessalonica) and Tychicus were with Paul in Greece. Acts 27:2 tells us that Aristarchust accompanied Paul on his trip to Rome. However, there is no mention of Tychicus.

Paul's companions seemed to have volunteered to accompany Paul to Rome and were content to be confined with him under house arrest. We know that Onesimus and Tychicus delivered letters written by Paul - Onesimus to then remain with Philemon in Colosse. What we know about Epaphras (a Colossian) is that he was a faithful servant of Christ Jesus.

Was Epaphras locked up in prison? It is possible that the expression "my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus" does not infer being held in prison by the secular authorities. Are we not all prisoners of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour? Perhaps the only charge against Epaphras was that he was a faithful servant of Christ Jesus.

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Paul was not in chains, locked in a prison building. It was more like house-arrest. Even with guards, there was still some freedom of movement within the house. Back in those days, prisoners did not get meals provided by the prison authorities! Relatives or friends had to supply such necessary items. Or, if the prison guard was not above a bribe, a prisoner might 'grease his palm' in order to get food or drink.

Even with house arrest, Paul would still rely on others to keep him supplied with food and so Epaphras would be a voluntary companion to Paul, who might have been in chains in a house but Epaphras would not be in chains as he was not charged with anything.

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