From Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon, our dear friend and collaborator, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that meets in your house. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Thanks for Philemon’s Love and Faith
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that the faith you share with us may deepen your understanding of every blessing that belongs to you in Christ. I have had great joy and encouragement because of your love, for the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.
Paul’s Request for Onesimus
So, although I have quite a lot of confidence in Christ and could command you to do what is proper, I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love – I, Paul, an old man and even now a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus – I am appealing to you concerning my child, whose spiritual father I have become during my imprisonment, that is, Onesimus, who was formerly useless to you, but is now useful to you and me. I have sent him (who is my very heart) back to you. I wanted to keep him so that he could serve me in your place during my imprisonment for the sake of the gospel. However, without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your good deed would not be out of compulsion, but from your own willingness. For perhaps it was for this reason that he was separated from you for a little while, so that you would have him back eternally, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, as a dear brother. He is especially so to me, and even more so to you now, both humanly speaking and in the Lord. Therefore if you regard me as a partner, accept him as you would me. Now if he has defrauded you of anything or owes you anything, charge what he owes to me. I, Paul, have written this letter with my own hand: I will repay it. I could also mention that you owe me your very self. Yes, brother, let me have some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. Since I was confident that you would obey, I wrote to you, because I knew that you would do even more than what I am asking you to do. At the same time also, prepare a place for me to stay, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given back to you.
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you. Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my collaborators, greet you too. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.