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, a prisoner of Christ [christou; Heb. Messiah]
Jesus, and Timothy [Timotheos]
our brother [adelphos]
, to Philemon
-to-do man, very likely with a considerable household. Perhaps business interests originally led him to
Ephesus, and so within Paul's sphere of influence. He owed his faith to the apostle's ministry and his
house had become the meeting place of a Christian congregation.
, our beloved [agapētō]
fellow worker [synergō]
to the beloved [agapētē]
, our fellow soldier
, and to the assembly [ekklēsia]
in your house
to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank [eucharisteō]
my God always, making mention of you in my prayers,
hearing of your love [agapēn]
, and of the faith [pistin]
which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints [agious]
that the fellowship [koinōnia]
of your faith [pisteōs]
may become effective, in the knowledge of every good thing which is in us in Christ Jesus.
For we have much joy [charan]
and comfort [paraklēsin]
in your love [agapē]
, because the hearts [splagchna]
the saints [agiōn]
have been refreshed [anapauō]
through you, brother.
Therefore, though I have all boldness in Christ to command you that which is appropriate,
yet for love's [agapēn]
sake I rather beg [parakaleō]
, being such a one as Paul, the aged [presbytēs]
, but also a prisoner
of Jesus Christ.
I beg [parakaleō]
you for my child, whom I have become the father of in my
an unsatisfactory servant (v11) and may have injured his master by robbing him (v18) before absconding in a
bid for freedom. Yet the 'freedom' he could hope for was an existence lived in constant dread of discovery
and always near to starvation, shifting among the dregs of a great city. A slave on the run was guilty of
one of the most serious offences known to ancient law. He could expect to be treated harshly, possibly with
death. The fear of slave-risings was so great that often extreme and savage vengeance would be meted out.
Perhaps desperation drove Onesimus to seek out the confined apostle. Why didn't Paul protest louder against
the injustice of slavery? Such a crusade would have succeeded only in making the lot of slaves, especially
those associated with the new faith, infinitely harsher rather than more hopeful and such a campaign would
have indelibly stamped the new movement as a dangerous and revolutionary political force, to be ruthlessly crushed.
who once was useless [archrēston]
to you, but now is useful [euchrēston]
to you and to me.
I am sending him back. Therefore receive him, that is, my own heart [splagchna]
whom I desired to keep with me, that on your behalf he might serve me in my chains [desmois]
for the Good News [euangeliou]
But I was willing to do nothing without your consent, that your goodness would not be as of necessity, but
of free will.
For perhaps he was therefore separated from you for a while, that you would have him forever,
no longer as a slave [doulon]
, but more than a slave [doulon]
, a beloved brother [adelphon agapēton]
, especially to me, but how much
rather to you, both in the flesh [sarki]
and in the Lord.
If then you count me a partner [koinōnon]
, receive him as you would receive me.
But if he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, put that to my account.
I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your
own self besides).
Yes, brother [adelphe]
, let me have joy [oninēmi]
you in the Lord. Refresh [anapauō]
my heart [splagchna]
in the Lord.
Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even beyond what I say.
Also, prepare a guest room for me, for I hope that through your prayers I will be restored [charizomai]
, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you,
as do Mark [Markos]
, Aristarchus [Aristarchos]
, Demas [Dēmas]
, and Luke [Loukas]
, my fellow workers.
The grace [charis]
of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen [amēn]