no longer as a slave, but [as someone] more than a slave, as a brother [in Christ], especially dear to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh [as a servant] and in the Lord [as a fellow believer].
[And I pray] that the participation in and sharing of your faith may produce and promote full recognition and appreciation and understanding and precise knowledge of every good [thing] that is ours in [our identification with] Christ Jesus [and unto His glory].
But it has been my wish to do nothing about it without first consulting you and getting your consent, in order that your benevolence might not seem to be the result of compulsion or of pressure but might be voluntary [on your part].
Not as a slave any longer but as [something] more than a slave, as a brother [Christian], especially dear to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh [as a servant] and in the Lord [as a fellow believer].
no longer as a slave but more than a slave—that is, as a dearly loved brother. He is especially a dearly loved brother to me. How much more can he become a brother to you, personally and spiritually in the Lord!
not to be just a slave, but better than a slave, to be a dear brother. That’s what he is to me. And I know he will mean even more to you, both as your slave and as one who shares your faith in the Lord.
But because I love you, I am ·pleading with [appealing to; urging; encouraging] you instead. I, Paul, an old man now and also a prisoner [C in Rome, about ad 60; Acts 28:16–31; Phil. 1:7] for Christ Jesus,
no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a loved brother. ·I love him very much, but you will love him even more [L …especially to me, but more so to you], both ·as a person [or in the natural realm; L in the flesh] and ·as a believer in the Lord [or in the spiritual realm; L in the Lord].
I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand [C contrary to his usual practice of using a scribe, or amanuensis; Rom. 16:22]. I will pay it back, and I will ·say nothing about what [make no mention that] you owe me for your ·own life [very self; C Paul had evidently led Philemon to Christ].
And also Mark [Acts 12:25; 13:13; 15:37–39; Col. 4:10], Aristarchus [Acts 19:29; Col. 4:10], Demas [Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:10], and Luke [Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11], ·workers together with me [my coworkers], send greetings.
Paul handling a base and small matter, yet according to his manner mounteth aloft unto God. 8 Sending again to Philemon his vagabond and thievish servant, he entreateth pardon for him, and very gravely preacheth of Christian equity. Paul a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and our brother Timothy, unto Philemon our dear friend, and fellow helper,
And now he is not just a slave, but much more than a slave: he is a dear brother in Christ. How much he means to me! And how much more he will mean to you, both as a slave and as a brother in the Lord!
Paul, prisoner for the sake of Jesus Christ, and brother Timothy to Philemon our much-loved fellow-worker, Apphia our sister and Archippus who is with us in the fight; to the church that meets in your house—grace and peace be to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank God for you, Philemon, in my constant prayers for you all, for I have heard how you love and trust both the Lord Jesus himself and those who believe in him. And I pray that those who share your faith may also share your knowledge of all the good things that believing in Jesus Christ can mean to us. It is your love, my brother, that gives us such comfort and happiness, for it cheers the hearts of your fellow Christians.
And although I could rely on my authority in Christ and dare to order you to do what I consider right, I am not doing that. No, I am appealing to that love of yours, a simple personal appeal from Paul the old man, in prison for Jesus Christ’s sake. I am appealing for my child. Yes I have become a father though I have been under lock and key, and the child’s name is—Onesimus! Oh, I know you have found him pretty useless in the past but he is going to be useful now, to both of us.
I am sending him back to you: will you receive him as my son, part of me? I should have dearly loved to have kept him with me: he could have done what you would have done—looked after me here in prison for the Gospel’s sake. But I would do nothing without consulting you first, for if you have a favour to give me, let it be spontaneous and not forced from you by circumstances!
It occurs to me that there has been a purpose in your losing him. You lost him, a slave, for a time; now you are having him back for good, not merely as a slave, but as a brother-Christian. He is already especially loved by me—how much more will you be able to love him, both as a man and as a fellow-Christian! You and I have so much in common haven’t we? Then do welcome him as you would welcome me. If you feel he has wronged or cheated you put it down to my account. I’ve written this with my own hand: I, Paul, hereby promise to repay you. (Of course I’m not stressing the fact that you might be said to owe me your very soul!) Now do grant me this favour, my brother—such an act of love will do my old heart good. As I send you this letter I know you’ll do what I ask—I believe, in fact, you’ll do more.
From: Paul, in jail for preaching the Good News about Jesus Christ, and from Brother Timothy. To: Philemon, our much-loved fellow worker, and to the church that meets in your home, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus who, like myself, is a soldier of the cross.
Now I want to ask a favor of you. I could demand it of you in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do, but I love you and prefer just to ask you—I, Paul, an old man now, here in jail for the sake of Jesus Christ.
I, Paul, am a prisoner for the sake of Christ, here with my brother Timothy. I write this letter to you, Philemon, my good friend and companion in this work—also to our sister Apphia, to Archippus, a real trooper, and to the church that meets in your house. God’s best to you! Christ’s blessings on you!
Every time your name comes up in my prayers, I say, “Oh, thank you, God!” I keep hearing of the love and faith you have for the Master Jesus, which brims over to other believers. And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it. Friend, you have no idea how good your love makes me feel, doubly so when I see your hospitality to fellow believers.
In line with all this I have a favor to ask of you. As Christ’s ambassador and now a prisoner for him, I wouldn’t hesitate to command this if I thought it necessary, but I’d rather make it a personal request.
While here in jail, I’ve fathered a child, so to speak. And here he is, hand-carrying this letter—Onesimus! He was useless to you before; now he’s useful to both of us. I’m sending him back to you, but it feels like I’m cutting off my right arm in doing so. I wanted in the worst way to keep him here as your stand-in to help out while I’m in jail for the Message. But I didn’t want to do anything behind your back, make you do a good deed that you hadn’t willingly agreed to.
Maybe it’s all for the best that you lost him for a while. You’re getting him back now for good—and no mere slave this time, but a true Christian brother! That’s what he was to me—he’ll be even more than that to you.
So if you still consider me a comrade-in-arms, welcome him back as you would me. If he damaged anything or owes you anything, chalk it up to my account. This is my personal signature—Paul—and I stand behind it. (I don’t need to remind you, do I, that you owe your very life to me?) Do me this big favor, friend. You’ll be doing it for Christ, but it will also do my heart good.
I, Paul, am writing this letter. I am a prisoner because of Christ Jesus. Our brother Timothy joins me in writing. Philemon, we are sending you this letter. You are our dear friend. You work together with us.
You could have him back not as a slave. Instead, he would be better than a slave. He would be a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even more dear to you. He is dear to you not only as another human being. He is also dear to you as a brother in the Lord.
I was wanting to detain him with me, in order that he might function as a keli kodesh (minister), ministering to me in your place, as your murshe (proxy), while I’m detained in the imprisonment of the Besuras HaGeulah.
I’d much rather make an appeal because of our friendship. So here I am, an old man, a prisoner for Christ, making my loving appeal to you. It is on behalf of my child, whose spiritual father I became while here in prison; that is, Onesimus.
Thank You, Father, for Philemon. I pray that as he goes and tells his story of faith, he would tell everyone so that they will know for certain all the good that comes to those who put their trust in the Anointed One.
no longer as a slave, but as more than a slave—as a dear brother. Yes, he is dear to me, but I suspect he will come to mean even more to you, both in the flesh as a servant and in the Lord as a brother.
Now he is not like a slave who must work for you. He is better than a slave. He is a Christian brother and you will love him. I love him very much. But you will love him even more because he belongs to you and he is a Christian.
And I had great joy and comfort in thy charity, for the entrails of holy men rested by thee, brother. [Forsooth I had great joy and comfort in thy charity, for the entrails of holy men rested, or were refreshed, by thee, brother.]
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to choose a monthly or yearly subscription, and then enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate, click the button below.
Upgrade, and get the most out of your new account. An integrated digital Bible study library - including complete notes from the Believer's Bible Commentary and the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (NIV and NRSV) - is just a step away! Try it free for 30 days.