The purpose of this book of the Bible is to convince Philemon to forgive his runaway slave, Onesimus, and to accept him as a brother in the faith.
1 This letter is from Paul, a prisoner for preaching the Good News about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker, 2 and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your[a] house.
3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer
4 I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, 5 because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. 6 And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.
Paul’s Appeal for Onesimus
8 That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do. 9 But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you. Consider this as a request from me—Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus.[b]
10 I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison. 11 Onesimus[c] hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us. 12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.
13 I wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and he would have helped me on your behalf.14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced. 15 It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever. 16 He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL!
20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor[d] for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.
21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more! 22 One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon.
Paul’s Final Greetings
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings.24 So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers.
25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
2 Throughout this letter, you and your are singular except in verses 3, 22, and 25.
9 Or a prisoner of Christ Jesus.
11 Onesimus means “useful.”
20 Greek onaimen, a play on the name Onesimus.
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Music by Joseph Israel