Philemon New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,[a]
To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, 2 to Apphia our sister,[b] to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon’s Love and Faith
4 When I remember you[c] in my prayers, I always thank my God 5 because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we[d] may do for Christ. 7 I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.
Paul’s Plea for Onesimus
8 For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, 9 yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus.[e] 10 I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful[f] both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. 13 I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced. 15 Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, 16 no 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.
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 that to my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
22 One thing more—prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be restored to you.
Final Greetings and Benediction
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you,[g] 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.
25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.[h]
Philemon The Message (MSG)
1-3 I, Paul, am a prisoner for the sake of Christ, here with my brother Timothy. I write this letter to you, Philemon, my good friend and companion in this work—also to our sister Apphia, to Archippus, a real trooper, and to the church that meets in your house. God’s best to you! Christ’s blessings on you!
4-7 Every time your name comes up in my prayers, I say, “Oh, thank you, God!” I keep hearing of the love and faith you have for the Master Jesus, which brims over to other believers. And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it. Friend, you have no idea how good your love makes me feel, doubly so when I see your hospitality to fellow believers.
To Call the Slave Your Friend
8-9 In line with all this I have a favor to ask of you. As Christ’s ambassador and now a prisoner for him, I wouldn’t hesitate to command this if I thought it necessary, but I’d rather make it a personal request.
10-14 While here in jail, I’ve fathered a child, so to speak. And here he is, hand-carrying this letter—Onesimus! He was useless to you before; now he’s useful to both of us. I’m sending him back to you, but it feels like I’m cutting off my right arm in doing so. I wanted in the worst way to keep him here as your stand-in to help out while I’m in jail for the Message. But I didn’t want to do anything behind your back, make you do a good deed that you hadn’t willingly agreed to.
15-16 Maybe it’s all for the best that you lost him for a while. You’re getting him back now for good—and no mere slave this time, but a true Christian brother! That’s what he was to me—he’ll be even more than that to you.
17-20 So if you still consider me a comrade-in-arms, welcome him back as you would me. If he damaged anything or owes you anything, chalk it up to my account. This is my personal signature—Paul—and I stand behind it. (I don’t need to remind you, do I, that you owe your very life to me?) Do me this big favor, friend. You’ll be doing it for Christ, but it will also do my heart good.
21-22 I know you well enough to know you will. You’ll probably go far beyond what I’ve written. And by the way, get a room ready for me. Because of your prayers, I fully expect to be your guest again.
23-25 Epaphras, my cellmate in the cause of Christ, says hello. Also my coworkers Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke. All the best to you from the Master, Jesus Christ!
Philemon The Voice (VOICE)
1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus the Anointed One, with our brother Timothy, to you, beloved Philemon, our fellow worker; and 2 to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that gathers in your house. 3 May grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus the Anointed surround you.
4 I am constantly thanking God for you in my prayers 5 because I keep hearing about your love and faith toward our Lord Jesus and all those set apart for His purposes. Here’s what I’ve been praying on your behalf:
6 Thank You, Father, for Philemon. I pray that as he goes and tells his story of faith, he would tell everyone so that they will know for certain all the good that comes to those who put their trust in the Anointed One.
7 My brother, because you are out there encouraging and reviving the hearts of fellow saints with such love, this brings great joy and comfort to me.
8 Although I am bold enough in the Anointed, our Liberating King, to insist you do the right thing, 9 instead I choose to appeal to you on account of love. I do this for my own sake since I, Paul, am an old man and am held prisoner because of my service to Jesus the Anointed. 10 I make this request on behalf of my child, Onesimus,[a] whom I brought to faith during my time in prison. 11 Before, he was useless to you; but now he is useful to both you and me. 12 Listen, I am sending my heart back to you as I send him to stand before you, although truly 13 I wished to keep him at my side to take your place as my helper while I am bound for the good news. 14 But I didn’t want to make this decision without asking for your permission. This way, any goodwill on your part wouldn’t be seen as forced, but as your true and free desire.
15 Maybe this is the reason why he was supposed to be away from you for this time: so that now you will have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but as more than a slave—as a dear brother. Yes, he is dear to me, but I suspect he will come to mean even more to you, both in the flesh as a servant and in the Lord as a brother.
The gospel is a powerful social force for good, capable of making rich and poor, slave and free into beloved brothers.
17 So if you look upon me as your partner in this mission, then I ask you to open your heart to him as you would welcome me. 18 And if he has wronged you or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 Look, I’ll put it here in my own handwriting: I, Paul, promise to repay you everything. (Should I remind you that you owe me your life?) 20 Indeed, brother, I want you to do me this favor out of obedience to our Lord. It will refresh my heart in Him. 21 This letter comes, written with the confidence that you will not only do what I ask, but will also go beyond all I have asked.
22 One more thing: you should get a room ready for me as I hope to be released to you soon in answer to your prayers. 23 Epaphras (my fellow prisoner in Jesus, the Anointed One) greets you, 24 as well as my fellow workers Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke.
25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus the Anointed be with your spirit. [Amen.][b]