1–2 From Paul, a prisoner[a] of the Anointed One, Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon,[b] our precious friend and companion in this work, and to the church that meets in his house, along with our dear sister Apphia and our fellow soldier Archippus.[c]
3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ pour out his grace and peace upon you.
Philemon’s Faith and Love
4 I am always thankful to my God as I remember you in my prayers 5 because I’m hearing reports about your faith in the Lord Jesus and how much love you have for all his holy followers. 6 I pray for you that the faith we share[d] may effectively deepen your understanding of every good thing that belongs to you in Christ. 7 Your love has impacted me and brings me great joy and encouragement, for the hearts of the believers have been greatly refreshed through you, dear brother.
Paul’s Request on Behalf of Onesimus
8 Even though I have enough boldness in Christ that I could command you to do what is proper, 9–10 I’d much rather make an appeal because of our friendship. So here I am, an old man,[e] a prisoner for Christ, making my loving appeal to you. It is on behalf of my child, whose spiritual father I became[f] while here in prison; that is, Onesimus.[g] 11 Formerly he was not useful or valuable to you, but now he is valuable to both of us. 12 He is my very heart,[h] and I’ve sent him back to you with this letter.
13 I would have preferred to keep him at my side so that he could take your place as my helper during my imprisonment for the sake of the gospel.[i] 14 However, I did not want to make this decision without your consent, so that your act of kindness[j] would not be a matter of obligation but out of willingness.
15 Perhaps you could think of it this way: he was separated from you for a short time so that you could have him back forever. 16 So welcome him no longer as a slave, but more than that, as a dearly loved brother. He is that to me especially, and how much more so to you, both humanly speaking and in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me your friend and partner, accept him the same way you would accept me. 18 And if he has stolen anything[k] from you or owes you anything, just place it on my account.
19 I, Paul, have written these words in my own handwriting. I promise to pay you back everything, to say nothing of the fact that you owe me your very self.[l]
20 Yes, my brother, enrich my soul[m] in the Lord—refresh my heart in Christ! 21 I’m writing to you with confidence that you will comply with my request and do even more than what I’m asking.
22 And would you do one more thing for me? Since I’m hoping through your prayers to be restored to you soon, please prepare a guest room for me.