The epistle of Paul the Apostle to Philemon was written in Rome in about AD 62. This story is about a servant named Onesimus who ran away from Philemon, a Christian of Colosse. Onesimus had departed from Philemon and fled to Rome, where he then became converted under Paul’s ministry. Paul sent him back to Philemon with this letter to reconcile their broken relationship, since they were both in Christ. The letter about Onesimus was included in the canon, in the opinion of some, due to the authenticity of its authorship. Paul’s political astuteness and personal interaction with the recipient make this letter both warm and compelling. It is truly a heartfelt plea from one Christian to another.
Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
1To Philemon, our beloved fellow laborer, 2and to beloved Apphia, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon’s Love and Faith
4I thank my God, always mentioning you in my prayers, 5whenever I hear of your love and faith, which you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6that the sharing of your faith may be most effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you from Christ Jesus. 7For we have great joy and encouragement on account of your love, because the hearts of the saints are refreshed through you, brother.
Paul Pleads for Onesimus
8Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you to do that which is proper, 9yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ— 10I appeal to you on behalf of my son Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment, 11who in the past was unprofitable to you, but now he is profitable to you and to me.
12I have sent him back. Therefore receive him as my own heart. 13I wanted to keep him with me, so that in your place he might serve me during my imprisonment for the gospel. 14But without your consent I would do nothing, so that your goodness would not be forced, but given willingly. 15Perhaps this was why he departed for a while, that you might receive him forever, 16no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17If then you consider me a partner, receive him as you would me. 18If he wronged you or owes you anything, charge this to my account. 19I, Paul, have written this with my own hand. I will repay it—not to mention that you owe me even your own self. 20Yes, brother, help me rejoice in the Lord, refresh my heart in the Lord. 21Being convinced of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will also do more than I say.
22But, in addition, prepare also lodging for me, for I hope that through your prayers I shall be graciously restored to you.
23Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow laborers.
25The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.