1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,
2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:
3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,
5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;
6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.
8 Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient,
9 Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:
11 Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:
12 Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:
13 Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:
14 But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.
15 For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever;
16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?
17 If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.
18 If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;
19 I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.
20 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.
21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.
22 But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.
23 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus;
24 Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.
25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Philemon, my dear friend—
I could throw my eldership around and command you to do what I want—I am, after all, Paul the apostle, writing from prison for the sake of the Gospel. (Remember, you owe me your very self!—but I’ll not rub that in.) So instead of forcing you by circumstance or by my authority, I’m appealing to your heart. Your love is so famous and you’ve been such an encouragement to me—and I know you so well—I’m sure you’ll do me this favor.
Believe it or not, I’ve become a father here in prison! My son is your own Onesimus—once useless to you, as his name indicates, but now very useful to me. In fact, I hate sending him back to you, he’s such a help, and I’ve come to love him as my own. It even seems like he’s taking your place in making my life easier here in the prison, which I know you would do if you were here.
But Onesimus belongs with you—not so much as a slave, but now as a Christian brother. Please welcome him back as such. Open your heart to him as you would to me, because as my son in the gospel, Onesimus is part of myself!
I hope to visit you soon.
Yours in the faith,
Artist—designing/building stained glass windows, Spokane Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, Washington State USA