1 Paul, a prisoner [for the sake] of Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed), and our brother Timothy,
To Philemon our dearly beloved friend and fellow worker, 2 and to [your wife] Apphia our sister, and to [a]Archippus our fellow soldier [in ministry], and to the [b]church that meets in your [c]house: 3 Grace to you and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon’s Love and Faith
4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of your faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the [d]saints (God’s people). 6 I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective and powerful because of your accurate knowledge of every good thing which is ours in Christ. 7 For I have had great joy and comfort and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints (God’s people) have been refreshed through you, my brother.
8 Therefore [on the basis of these facts], though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is appropriate, 9 yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—since I am such a person as Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner [for the sake] of Christ Jesus—
A Plea for Onesimus to be Freed
10 I appeal to you for my [own spiritual] child Onesimus, whom I have fathered [in the faith] while a captive in these chains. 11 Once he was useless to you, but now he is indeed [e]useful to you as well as to me. 12 I have sent him back to you in person, that is, like sending my very heart. 13 I would have chosen to keep him with me, so that he might minister to me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but I did not want to do anything without first getting your consent, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. 15 Perhaps it was for this reason that he was separated from you for a while, so that you would have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave, but [as someone] more than a slave, as a brother [in Christ], especially dear to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh [as a servant] and in the Lord [as a fellow believer].(A)
17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome and accept him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; 19 I, Paul, write this with my [f]own hand, I will repay it in full (not to mention to you that you [g]owe to me even your own self as well). 20 Yes, brother, let me have some benefit and joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.
21 I write to you [perfectly] confident of your obedient compliance, [h]since I know that you will do even more than I ask.
22 At the same time also prepare a guest room for me [in expectation of a visit], for I hope that through your prayers I will be [granted the gracious privilege of] coming to you [at Colossae].
23 Greetings to you from Epaphras, my fellow prisoner here in [the cause of] Christ Jesus, 24 and from Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.
25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
- Philemon 1:2 Perhaps the son of Philemon and Apphia.
- Philemon 1:2 Philemon was responsible to see that this letter was shared with his fellow Colossian believers.
- Philemon 1:2 Prior to the third century a.d. churches customarily met in private homes.
- Philemon 1:5 All born-again believers (saints) have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, made holy and set apart for God’s purpose.
- Philemon 1:11 Paul makes a play on words here because Onesimus means “useful” or “profitable.”
- Philemon 1:19 By writing this with his own hand, Paul accepted legal liability.
- Philemon 1:19 Philemon evidently was saved through Paul’s ministry and therefore owed Paul a debt that could not be repaid.
- Philemon 1:21 This was probably a subtle suggestion by Paul to emancipate Onesimus.