(1) From Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ in Rome, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved fellow worker in the city of Colossae, (2) and to Apphia our sister (probably the wife of Philemon), and Archippus our fellow soldier (probably the son of Philemon and Apphia), and the church that gathers in your home. (3) May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace!
Paul’s Prayer for Philemon
(4) Philemon, I always thank my God when I remember you in my prayers, (5) because I hear about your love for all of God’s people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. (6) I pray that your partnership with us in the faith will be effective in deepening your understanding of every blessing that we share together for the sake of Christ. (7) My dear brother, your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
Paul’s Appeal to Philemon for Onesimus
(8) Therefore, Philemon, although in Christ I could be bold and command you to do what is right, (9) I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. For I, Paul, am an old man and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ in Rome.
(10) I appeal to you for my son Onesimus (Philemon’s runaway bondservant), who became my son while I have been held by prison chains in Rome. (11) In the past he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
(12) I am sending Onesimus—who is my very heart—back to you in Colossae. (13) I would have been happy to keep him with me in Rome so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in prison chains for the gospel (good news) of Christ. (14) But I did not want to do anything without your approval, so that your goodness will overflow freely from your heart and not be forced upon you by me. (15) Perhaps the reason Onesimus ran away from you for a short time was that you could receive him back forever—(16) no longer as a bondservant, but better than a bondservant, as a dear brother in Christ. He is very special to me but even more to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.
(17) So Philemon, if you consider me a partner in Christ, I ask you to welcome Onesimus as you would welcome me. (18) If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, you can charge it all to me. (19) I, Paul, am writing this letter with my own hand. I will pay you back everything that Onesimus owes you—not to emphasize that you owe me your very life.
(20) My brother, I do hope that I will receive something good from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ! (21) As I write to you, I am confident in your obedience and know that you will do even more than I ask of you.
(22) And one last thing: prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to visit you soon in answer to your prayers. (23) Epaphras (who probably started the church in Colossae; see Colossians 1:7), my fellow prisoner in Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings. (24) And so do Mark (the nephew of Barnabas and the writer of the Gospel of Mark; see Acts 15:37-39), Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow ministry partners. (25) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit!