1I, Paul, am writing this letter. I am a prisoner because of Christ Jesus. Our brother Timothy joins me in writing.
Philemon, we are sending you this letter. You are our dear friend. You work together with us. 2We are also sending it to our sister Apphia and to Archippus. He is a soldier of Christ together with us. And we are sending it to the church that meets in your home.
3May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Paul Prays and Gives Thanks
4I always thank my God when I remember you in my prayers. 5That’s because I hear about your love for all God’s people. I also hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6I pray that what we share by believing will help you understand even more. Then you will completely understand every good thing we share by believing in Christ. 7Your love has given me great joy. It has encouraged me. My brother, you have renewed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
Paul Makes an Appeal for Onesimus
8Because of the authority Christ has given me, I could be bold. I could order you to do what you should do anyway. 9But we love each other. And I would rather appeal to you on the basis of that love. I, Paul, am an old man. I am now also a prisoner because of Christ Jesus. 10I am an old man, and I’m in prison. This is how I make my appeal to you for my son Onesimus. He became a son to me while I was being held in chains. 11Before that, he was useless to you. But now he has become useful to you and to me.
12I’m sending Onesimus back to you. All my love for him goes with him. 13I’m being held in chains because of the good news. So I would have liked to keep Onesimus with me. And he could take your place in helping me. 14But I didn’t want to do anything unless you agreed. Any favor you do must be done because you want to do it, not because you have to. 15Onesimus was separated from you for a little while. Maybe that was so you could have him back forever. 16You could have him back not as a slave. Instead, he would be better than a slave. He would be a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even more dear to you. He is dear to you not only as another human being. He is also dear to you as a brother in the Lord.
17Do you think of me as a believer who works together with you? Then welcome Onesimus as you would welcome me. 18Has he done anything wrong to you? Does he owe you anything? Then charge it to me. 19I’ll pay it back. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I won’t even mention that you owe me your life. 20My brother, we both belong to the Lord. So I wish I could receive some benefit from you. Renew my heart. We know that Christ is the one who really renews it. 21I’m sure you will obey. So I’m writing to you. I know you will do even more than I ask.
22There is one more thing. Have a guest room ready for me. I hope I can return to all of you in answer to your prayers.
23Epaphras sends you greetings. Together with me, he is a prisoner because of Christ Jesus.
24Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke work together with me. They also send you greetings.
25May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
1Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker – 2also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier – and to the church that meets in your home:
3Grace and peace to you1:3 The Greek is plural; also in verses 22 and 25; elsewhere in this letter ‘you’ is singular. from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and prayer
4I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6I 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. 7Your 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
8Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9yet 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 – 10that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,1:10 Onesimus means useful. who became my son while I was in chains. 11Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
12I am sending him – who is my very heart – back to you. 13I 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. 14But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favour you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for ever – 16no 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.
17So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back – not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
22And one thing more: prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.
23Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.
24And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.
25The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.