Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy, who is their brother, to the well beloved Philemon, who shares our labours,
and to all the church that is in his household, to our dear sister Appia, Archippus, who fights the same battle with ourselves, and the rest;
Grace and peace be yours from God, our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God at all times, remembering thee in my prayers;
such accounts I hear of the love and faith thou shewest towards the Lord Jesus and towards all the saints.
May thy generosity in the faith be made known, when all your good actions are recognized in Christ Jesus.
It has been a happiness and a comfort to me to hear of thy charity, brother, and of the refreshment thou hast brought to the hearts of the saints.
And now, though I might well make bold in Christ to prescribe a duty to thee,
I prefer to appeal to this charity of thine. Who is it that writes to thee? Paul, an old man now, and in these days the prisoner, too, of Jesus Christ;
and I am appealing to thee on behalf of Onesimus, the child of my imprisonment.
He did thee an ill service once; now, both to thee and to myself, he can be serviceable,
and I am sending him back to thee; make him welcome, for my heart goes with him.
I would sooner have kept him here with me, to attend, as thy deputy, on a prisoner of the gospel,
but I would do nothing without thy leave; thy generosity should be exercised freely, not from lack of choice.
Perhaps, after all, the very purpose of thy losing him for a time was that thou mightest have him always by thee.
Do not think of him any longer as a slave; he is something more than a slave, a well loved brother, to me in a special way; much more, then, to thee, now that both nature and Christ make him thy own.
As thou dost value thy fellowship with me, make him welcome as thou wouldst myself;
if he has wronged thee, or is in thy debt, make me answerable for it.
Here is a message in Paul’s own hand; I will make it good. Not to remind thee that thou owest me a debt already, thy own self.
And now, brother, let me claim thy services; give comfort in the Lord to my anxious heart.
I write to thee counting on thy obedience, well assured that thou wilt do even more than I ask.
Be prepared, meanwhile, to entertain me; I hope, through your prayers, to be restored to you.
Greetings to you from Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus;
from Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, who share my labours.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.