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 you 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, 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.