Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved and fellow-worker, 2 and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the church in your house.
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, 5 hearing of the love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints. 6 I pray that our fellowshipping of your faith may result in our coming to acknowledge every good thing which is in you in Christ. 7 Already I had much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you our brother.
8 Thus although I have all boldness in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet I prefer to appeal to you for love's sake- I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus. 10 I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.
Paul’s appeal for Onesimus
11 He was once unprofitable to you but now is profitable to you and to me. 12 He is as my very heart, and it is he whom I have sent back to you. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel. 14 But I preferred to do nothing without your consent, so that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own free will. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever- 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me your partner, take him into your home as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you at all or owes you something, put that on my bill. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay any debt, even though you owe me your own self. 20 Yes, brother, let me profit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
21 I write to you having confidence in your obedience, knowing you will do what I ask. 22 But meanwhile also prepare for me a lodging; for I hope that through your prayers I shall be restored to you.
23 Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you; 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow-workers.
25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
1:10 Paul saw those he converted to Christ as his spiritual children. Onesimus was a runaway slave who had ended in prison in Rome; and yet Paul converted his fellow prisoner. It happened that Onesimus’s master, Philemon, had also been converted by Paul (v. 19). And so now Paul is sending Onesimus back to Philemon, persuading Philemon to have mercy upon him. We may feel imprisoned by situations, but we can still reach out to others who are also imprisoned within them, and lead them to Christ.
1:15 Paul is very positive. He suggests that such disagreements and interpersonal failures occur so that the fellowship and unity achieved after reconciliation will be that much stronger.
1:19 We owe our eternal lives to those who converted us; this shows the eternal significance of converting another person to Christ.
1:22 Paul acted as if his prayers for deliverance for prison were going to be answered- so much so that he, a prisoner, asks someone to prepare a room for him to stay in when he next visits. This is the principle of Mk. 11:24- to act and feel as if we have already received what we are asking for.