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Philemon Good News Translation (GNT)

From Paul, a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy—

To our friend and fellow worker Philemon, and the church that meets in your house, and our sister Apphia, and our fellow soldier Archippus:

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Philemon's Love and Faith

Brother Philemon, every time I pray, I mention you and give thanks to my God. For I hear of your love for all of God's people and the faith you have in the Lord Jesus. My prayer is that our fellowship with you as believers will bring about a deeper understanding of every blessing which we have in our life in union with Christ. Your love, dear brother, has brought me great joy and much encouragement! You have cheered the hearts of all of God's people.

A Request for Onesimus

For this reason I could be bold enough, as your brother in Christ, to order you to do what should be done. But because I love you, I make a request instead. I do this even though I am Paul, the ambassador of Christ Jesus, and at present also a prisoner for his sake.[a] 10 So I make a request to you on behalf of Onesimus, who is my own son in Christ; for while in prison I have become his spiritual father. 11 At one time he was of no use to you, but now he is useful[b] both to you and to me.

12 I am sending him back to you now, and with him goes my heart. 13 I would like to keep him here with me, while I am in prison for the gospel's sake, so that he could help me in your place. 14 However, I do not want to force you to help me; rather, I would like for you to do it of your own free will. So I will not do anything unless you agree.

15 It may be that Onesimus was away from you for a short time so that you might have him back for all time. 16 And now he is not just a slave, but much more than a slave: he is a dear brother in Christ. How much he means to me! And how much more he will mean to you, both as a slave and as a brother in the Lord!

17 So, if you think of me as your partner, welcome him back just as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to my account. 19 Here, I will write this with my own hand: I, Paul, will pay you back (I should not have to remind you, of course, that you owe your very self to me.) 20 So, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord's sake; as a brother in Christ, cheer me up!

21 I am sure, as I write this, that you will do what I ask—in fact I know that you will do even more. 22 At the same time, get a room ready for me, because I hope that God will answer the prayers of all of you and give me back to you.

Final Greetings

23 Epaphras, who is in prison with me for the sake of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings, 24 and so do my co-workers Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke.

25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Footnotes:

  1. Philemon 1:9 the ambassador of Christ Jesus, and at present also a prisoner for his sake; or an old man, and at present a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus.
  2. Philemon 1:11 The Greek name Onesimus means “useful.”
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Philemon New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Salutation

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

To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, to Apphia our sister,[b] to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:

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

Philemon’s Love and Faith

When I remember you[c] in my prayers, I always thank my God because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we[d] may do for Christ. 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

For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, 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]

Footnotes:

  1. Philemon 1:1 Gk the brother
  2. Philemon 1:2 Gk the sister
  3. Philemon 1:4 From verse 4 through verse 21, you is singular
  4. Philemon 1:6 Other ancient authorities read you (plural)
  5. Philemon 1:9 Or as an ambassador of Christ Jesus, and now also his prisoner
  6. Philemon 1:11 The name Onesimus means useful or (compare verse 20) beneficial
  7. Philemon 1:23 Here you is singular
  8. Philemon 1:25 Other ancient authorities add Amen
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Philemon Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

From: Sha’ul, a prisoner for the sake of the Messiah Yeshua, and brother Timothy

To: Our dear fellow-worker Philemon, along with sister Apphia, our fellow-soldier Archippus and the congregation that gathers in your home:

Grace and shalom to you from God our Father and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah.

I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers, Philemon, for I am hearing about your love and commitment to the Lord Yeshua and to all God’s people. I pray that the fellowship based on your commitment will produce full understanding of every good thing that is ours in union with the Messiah. For your love has given me much joy and encouragement. Brother, you have refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

Therefore, I would not hesitate, in union with the Messiah, to direct you to do the thing you ought to do. But since I Sha’ul, am the kind of person I am, an old man and now for the Messiah Yeshua’s sake a prisoner besides, I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. 10 My request to you concerns my son, of whom I became the father while here in prison, Onesimus. 11 His name means “useful,” and although he was once useless to you, he has now become most useful — not only to you but also to me; 12 so that in returning him to you I am sending a part of my very heart. 13 I would dearly have loved to keep him with me, in order for him to serve me in your place while I am in prison because of the Good News. 14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent, so that the good you do for me may be voluntary and not forced.

15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a brief period was so that you could have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, as a dear brother. And that he is, especially to me. But how much dearer he must be to you, both humanly and in union with the Lord!

17 So if you are in fellowship with me, receive him as you would me. 18 And if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me.

19 I, Sha’ul, write with my own hand. I will repay it.

(I won’t mention, of course, that you owe me your very life.) 20 Yes, brother, please do me this favor in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Messiah.

21 Trusting that you will respond positively, I write knowing that you will indeed do more than I am asking.

22 One more thing: please get a room ready for me. For I hope that through the prayers of you all God will give me a chance to visit you.

23 Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner for the sake of the Messiah Yeshua, sends greetings to you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow-workers.

25 The grace of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah be with your spirit.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

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!

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

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