1-2 From: Paul, in jail for preaching the Good News about Jesus Christ, and from Brother Timothy.
To: Philemon, our much-loved fellow worker, and to the church that meets in your home, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus who, like myself, is a soldier of the cross.
3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you his blessings and his peace.
4 I always thank God when I am praying for you, dear Philemon, 5 because I keep hearing of your love and trust in the Lord Jesus and in his people. 6 And I pray that as you share your faith with others it will grip their lives too, as they see the wealth of good things in you that come from Christ Jesus. 7 I myself have gained much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because your kindness has so often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.
8-9 Now I want to ask a favor of you. I could demand it of you in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do, but I love you and prefer just to ask you—I, Paul, an old man now, here in jail for the sake of Jesus Christ. 10 My plea is that you show kindness to my child Onesimus, whom I won to the Lord while here in my chains. 11 Onesimus (whose name means “Useful”) hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is going to be of real use to both of us. 12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.
13 I really wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and you would have been helping me through him, 14 but I didn’t want to do it without your consent. I didn’t want you to be kind because you had to but because you wanted to. 15 Perhaps you could think of it this way: that he ran away from you for a little while so that now he can be yours forever, 16 no longer only a slave, but something much better—a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you too, because he is not only a servant but also your brother in Christ.
17 If I am really your friend, give him the same welcome you would give to me if I were the one who was coming. 18 If he has harmed you in any way or stolen anything from you, charge me for it. 19 I will pay it back (I, Paul, personally guarantee this by writing it here with my own hand) but I won’t mention how much you owe me! The fact is, you even owe me your very soul! 20 Yes, dear brother, give me joy with this loving act and my weary heart will praise the Lord.
21 I’ve written you this letter because I am positive that you will do what I ask and even more!
22 Please keep a guest room ready for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me come to you soon.
23 Epaphras my fellow prisoner, who is also here for preaching Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. 24 So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.
25 The blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon your spirit.