Contemporary English Version
1 From Paul, who is in jail for serving Christ Jesus, and from Timothy, who is like a brother because of our faith.
Philemon, you work with us and are very dear to us. This letter is to you 2 and to the church that meets in your home. It is also to our dear friend Apphia and to Archippus, who serves the Lord as we do.
3 I pray that God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!
Philemon’s Love and Faith
4 Philemon, each time I mention you in my prayers, I thank God. 5 I hear about your faith in our Lord Jesus and about your love for all of God’s people. 6 As you share your faith with others, I pray that they may come to know all the blessings Christ has given us. 7 My friend, your love has made me happy and has greatly encouraged me. It has also cheered the hearts of God’s people.
Paul Speaks to Philemon about Onesimus
8 Christ gives me the courage to tell you what to do. 9 But I would rather ask you to do it simply because of love. Yes, as someone[a] in jail for Christ, 10 I beg you to help Onesimus![b] He is like a son to me because I led him to Christ here in jail. 11 Before this, he was useless to you, but now he is useful both to you and to me.
12 Sending Onesimus back to you makes me very sad. 13 I would like to keep him here with me, where he could take your place in helping me while I am here in prison for preaching the good news. 14 But I won’t do anything unless you agree to it first. I want your act of kindness to come from your heart, and not be something you feel forced to do.
15 Perhaps Onesimus was taken from you for a little while so that you could have him back for good, 16 but not as a slave. Onesimus is much more than a slave. To me he is a dear friend, but to you he is even more, both as a person and as a follower of the Lord.
17 If you consider me a friend because of Christ, then welcome Onesimus as you would welcome me. 18 If he has cheated you or owes you anything, charge it to my account. 19 With my own hand I write: I, PAUL, WILL PAY YOU BACK. But don’t forget that you owe me your life. 20 My dear friend and follower of Christ our Lord, please cheer me up by doing this for me.
21 I am sure you will do all I have asked, and even more. 22 Please get a room ready for me. I hope your prayers will be answered, and I can visit you.
23 Epaphras is also here in jail for being a follower of Christ Jesus. He sends his greetings, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, who work together with me.
25 I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you!