Old Testament

The apostle Paul was the inspired writer of Philemon. It is one of the four “captivity letters” written while Paul was under house arrest in Rome. See Acts 28:30; Colossians 4:7-9; Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20. The approximate date of writing may have been 60-61 AD.
11Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon, our dear friend and coworker, 2to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that meets in your house:
3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon's Love and Faith
4I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5because I hear about your love and faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints. 6I pray that this fellowship of your faith may become active in understanding every good thing that belongs to us[] in Christ. 7For I have received great joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
Appeal on Behalf of Onesimus
8For that reason, even though I have plenty of boldness in Christ to order you to do what is proper, 9I am appealing to you instead, on the basis of love, just as I, Paul, am an old man and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. 10I am appealing to you on behalf of my child Onesimus.[] I became his father while I was in chains. 11There was a time when he was useless to you, but now he is useful both to you and to me. 12I have sent him (who is my very heart) back to you. Welcome him.[] 13I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might serve me in your place while I am in chains for the gospel. 14But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that your kindness would not be the result of compulsion, but of willingness. 15Perhaps this is why he was separated from you for a while: so that you would have him back forever, 16no longer as a slave, but as more than a slave, as a dear brother. He certainly is dear to me, but he is even more of a dear brother to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18And if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19I, Paul, have written this with my own hand: I will repay it—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20Yes, brother, I am asking for a favor from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. 21Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
22Just one more thing: Prepare a guest room for me, because I am hoping to be given back to you in answer to your prayers.
Closing Words
23Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends his greetings to you, 24as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my coworkers. 25The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your[] spirit. Amen.


  • 1:6 Some witnesses to the text read you. (“Witnesses to the text” mentioned in footnotes may include Greek manuscripts, lectionaries, translations, and quotations in the church fathers.)
  • 1:10 Onesimus means useful. See the play on words in verse 11.
  • 1:12 Some witnesses to the text omit Welcome him.
  • 1:25 Your is plural.