And although I could rely on my authority in Christ and dare to order you to do what I consider right, I am not doing that. No, I am appealing to that love of yours, a simple personal appeal from Paul the old man, in prison for Jesus Christ’s sake. I am appealing for my child. Yes I have become a father though I have been under lock and key, and the child’s name is—Onesimus! Oh, I know you have found him pretty useless in the past but he is going to be useful now, to both of us.
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.
I’d much rather make an appeal because of our friendship. So here I am, an old man, a prisoner for Christ, making my loving appeal to you. It is on behalf of my child, whose spiritual father I became while here in prison; that is, Onesimus.
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