Although sometimes regarded as trivial because of its brevity or its treatment of issues distant from the modern world, the letter to Philemon remains valuable both for its insight into the social setting of the New Testament and for its reiteration of a central component of the gospel-brotherly love. This superb new commentary in the ECC series is unique for its exhaustive study of the ancient world at the time Philemon was written. The volume examines the institution of slavery in Paul's day, drawing on secular sources from Greece and Rome and from Christian writers of the time. The references to slavery found in Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Timothy are also compared and contrasted with Paul's words in Philemon. In addition, the verse-by-verse commentary focuses on important themes in Pauline theology, including love, faith and faithfulness, church unity, providence, free will, and human responsibility. Markus Barth makes his exposition even more useful by surveying the history of the interpretation of Philemon, from the patristic age to modern liberation theologians. The product of Barth's lifelong research and completed by Helmut Blanke, this volume will become the standard work on Philemon.