I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand [C contrary to his usual practice of using a scribe, or amanuensis; Rom. 16:22]. I will pay it back, and I will ·say nothing about what [make no mention that] you owe me for your ·own life [very self; C Paul had evidently led Philemon to Christ].
It occurs to me that there has been a purpose in your losing him. You lost him, a slave, for a time; now you are having him back for good, not merely as a slave, but as a brother-Christian. He is already especially loved by me—how much more will you be able to love him, both as a man and as a fellow-Christian! You and I have so much in common haven’t we? Then do welcome him as you would welcome me. If you feel he has wronged or cheated you put it down to my account. I’ve written this with my own hand: I, Paul, hereby promise to repay you. (Of course I’m not stressing the fact that you might be said to owe me your very soul!) Now do grant me this favour, my brother—such an act of love will do my old heart good. As I send you this letter I know you’ll do what I ask—I believe, in fact, you’ll do more.
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.
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