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1) [This letter is from] Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, [and is being sent] to Philemon our dearly loved [brother] and fellow-worker, 2) and to Apphia our sister [Note: This was probably Philemon=s wife], and to Archippus our fellow-soldier [Note: This was probably Philemon=s preacher son. See Col. 4:17] and to the church [that meets] in your house. 3) May there be unearned favor to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4) I always thank my God [for you] as I mention you in my prayers, 5) hearing of your love for all saints [i.e., God=s holy people], and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. 6) [I pray] that the sharing of your faith [with others, or possibly with Paul] will be effective when you fully realize all the good you can do for Christ. 7) For I have much joy and encouragement from [observing] your love, because you have cheered the hearts of the saints [i.e., God=s holy people], brother.

8) Therefore, although in [the fellowship of] Christ I have enough boldness to order you to do the proper thing, 9) yet out of [mutual] love, I appeal to you [to do what I ask]. For I Paul, am an old man, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus. [Note: Most calculations suggest that Paul was approximately 60 years old, which was considered a relatively advanced age in that day]. 10) I appeal to you on behalf of my son, Onesimus, whom I [spiritually] conceived while [here] in prison. 11) He was once useless to me, but is now useful to [both] you and me. [Note: Since the name Onesimus means Auseful,@ it appears Paul is making an intentional play on the word]. 12) [Now] I am sending him back to you in person, [as though he were] part of my very self. 13) I really wanted to keep him [here] with me so that, on your behalf, he could minister to me while in prison for the sake of the Gospel. 14) But I did not want to do anything without your permission, so that your goodness [of heart] would not be shown out of a feeling of obligation, but out of willingness. 15) For possibly Onesimus left you for a short time so that you could have him [back] forever, 16) not as a slave [only], but more than a slave, as a dearly loved brother. [He is that] to me especially, but how much more to you, both in a physical way [i.e., by continuing to serve as your slave] and in [the fellowship of] the Lord [i.e., now also as your brother in Christ]. 17) If then you consider me to be a partner [in the faith], welcome him [back] as [you would] me. 18) But if he has done anything wrong to you, or owes you any [money], charge it to my account. 19) I, Paul, am writing this in my own handwriting: I will pay you back. [But] I will not mention that you owe me your own self, as well. 20) So, brother, I would like to have your help in [the fellowship of] the Lord; cheer me up in Christ [i.e., by welcoming Onesimus back on good terms]. 21) I am writing you, confident that you will be obedient [to my requests], and I know that you will do even more than I am asking [of you].

22) And another thing: Prepare a place for me to stay, because I hope that through [an answer to] your prayers I will be returned to you. [Note: Paul was hoping to be released from imprisonment to visit Philemon at Colosse].

23) Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner in [the service of] Christ sends you his greetings, 24) along with [John] Mark [Note: This shows that Mark was now back in the good graces of Paul. See Acts 15:36-40], Aristarchus, Demas [Note: This man later deserted Paul. See II Tim. 4:10] and Luke, who are [also] my fellow-workers. [Note: These men, unlike Epaphras who was imprisoned with Paul, were free to minister for Christ there in Rome].

25) May the unearned favor of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. May it be so.

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Copyright 1994 by William E. Paul.

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