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Philemon The Passion Translation (TPT)

1–2 From Paul, a prisoner[a] of the Anointed One, Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon,[b] our precious friend and companion in this work, and to the church that meets in his house, along with our dear sister Apphia and our fellow soldier Archippus.[c]

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ pour out his grace and peace upon you.

Philemon’s Faith and Love

I am always thankful to my God as I remember you in my prayers 5 because I’m hearing reports about your faith in the Lord Jesus and how much love you have for all his holy followers. I pray for you that the faith we share[d] may effectively deepen your understanding of every good thing that belongs to you in Christ. Your love has impacted me and brings me great joy and encouragement, for the hearts of the believers have been greatly refreshed through you, dear brother.

Paul’s Request on Behalf of Onesimus

Even though I have enough boldness in Christ that I could command you to do what is proper, 9–10 I’d much rather make an appeal because of our friendship. So here I am, an old man,[e] a prisoner for Christ, making my loving appeal to you. It is on behalf of my child, whose spiritual father I became[f] while here in prison; that is, Onesimus.[g] 11 Formerly he was not useful or valuable to you, but now he is valuable to both of us. 12 He is my very heart,[h] and I’ve sent him back to you with this letter.

13 I would have preferred to keep him at my side so that he could take your place as my helper during my imprisonment for the sake of the gospel.[i] 14 However, I did not want to make this decision without your consent, so that your act of kindness[j] would not be a matter of obligation but out of willingness.

15 Perhaps you could think of it this way: he was separated from you for a short time so that you could have him back forever. 16 So welcome him no longer as a slave, but more than that, as a dearly loved brother. He is that to me especially, and how much more so to you, both humanly speaking and in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me your friend and partner, accept him the same way you would accept me. 18 And if he has stolen anything[k] from you or owes you anything, just place it on my account.

19 I, Paul, have written these words in my own handwriting. I promise to pay you back everything, to say nothing of the fact that you owe me your very self.[l]

20 Yes, my brother, enrich my soul[m] in the Lord—refresh my heart in Christ! 21 I’m writing to you with confidence that you will comply with my request and do even more than what I’m asking.

22 And would you do one more thing for me? Since I’m hoping through your prayers to be restored to you soon, please prepare a guest room for me.

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in the Anointed One, Jesus, sends his greetings of peace[n] to you, 24 and so does Mark,[o] Aristarchus,[p] Demas,[q] and Luke, my companions in this ministry.

25 May the unconditional love[r] of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, be with your spirit![s]


  1. Philemon 1:1 In other letters from Paul, he describes himself as an apostle, but here, writing to his dear friend, there is no need to remind Philemon of his apostleship.
  2. Philemon 1:1 Philemon means “affectionate” and is derived from the Greek word philema, which means “kiss.”
  3. Philemon 1:1 Apphia means “fruitful one” and is believed to be the name of Philemon’s wife. Archippus means “master of the horse” and was possibly their son’s name. See also Col. 4:17.
  4. Philemon 1:6 This is somewhat ambiguous, for the Greek is literally “for the sharing of the faith of you.” It can mean a number of things, including the common faith that Paul and Philemon shared, or it could mean the faith that Philemon shared with others through evangelism. The Aramaic can be translated “May your association [fellowship] of believers [Philemon’s house church] be fruitful in works and in the knowledge of all that you possess in Jesus, the Messiah.”
  5. Philemon 1:9 Some manuscripts have “an ambassador” in place of “an old man.”
  6. Philemon 1:9 The Aramaic can be translated “whom I birthed with my chains (while in prison).”
  7. Philemon 1:9 Paul employs a masterful play on words, for the name Onesimus means “useful” or “valuable.” The book of Philemon is a masterpiece of grace, tact, and love.
  8. Philemon 1:12 The Aramaic can be translated “for he is my son.” It would be hard to imagine a more powerful way to describe the affection between Paul and his spiritual son, Onesimus. The one who gave us the love chapter (1 Cor. 13) demonstrated that love in his relationships, even with those who were much younger than he.
  9. Philemon 1:13 Or “in the chains of the gospel.” The Aramaic changes the object of the phrase to Onesimus: “I took him to serve me, chained to God’s message, on your behalf.”
  10. Philemon 1:14 By implication, this act of kindness refers to Philemon receiving the fugitive slave back with love and forgiveness.
  11. Philemon 1:18 Although the Greek verb adikeō means “to do wrong” or “to defraud,” the clear implication is that Onesimus had stolen from his master.
  12. Philemon 1:19 By implication, it was Paul who had brought the message of life to Philemon and became his “spiritual father” as well.
  13. Philemon 1:20 Or “benefited” or “profited.” This is a play on words that would not be lost on the educated Philemon, for it is taken from the root word for “Onesimus” (“profitable”).
  14. Philemon 1:23 The cultural greeting of that day would be peace or “shalom.”
  15. Philemon 1:24 That is, “John Mark.” See Acts 15:36-40. This shows that John Mark was fully restored in his relationship and partnership with the apostle Paul. Since Mark’s death was in Alexandria in AD 62, the book of Philemon was obviously written before then. This is the only place in the New Testament that records Mark and Luke being in the same place. Paul had two Gospel writers who traveled with him.
  16. Philemon 1:24 Aristarchus means “best prince” (“ruler”). He was also known as Aristarchus of Thessalonica and is identified in church history as one of the seventy whom Jesus sent out. He was both a ministry companion of Paul and Paul’s “fellow prisoner” (Col. 4:10).
  17. Philemon 1:24 Demas means “governor of the people.” Demas would later desert Paul and turn back to the world. See 2 Tim. 4:10.
  18. Philemon 1:25 Or “grace.”
  19. Philemon 1:25 The Aramaic adds a postscript: “End of the letter of Philemon, which was written from Rome and sent by the hands of Onesimus.”
The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com

Philemon New International Version (NIV)

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:

Grace and peace to you[a] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

Paul’s Plea for Onesimus

Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,[b] who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.

22 And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.


  1. Philemon 1:3 The Greek is plural; also in verses 22 and 25; elsewhere in this letter “you” is singular.
  2. Philemon 1:10 Onesimus means useful.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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