Epistle to Philemon
The Epistle to Philemon is a canonical book of the New Testament authored by the Apostle Paul of Tarsus (“Saint Paul”). It is a brief personal letter from Paul to Philemon, a Christian in Colossus and one of his disciples.
The apostle Paul wrote this letter “with his own hand” (Phm. V19) during his first imprisonment in Rome. He was sent to his disciple Philemon, a Christian from Colossus. Very brief, it is not divided into chapters and is considered Paul’s most personal. Although ‘personal’, the letter is not strictly private because Paul greeted the Christian community there: “the church which assembles in your house” (Phm. V2).
The repeated references to the captivity of Paul of Tarsus may suggest that the letter was composed in Rome, Caesarea or Ephesus, the latter being the best candidate insofar as it best responds to the episode of Onesimus’ refuge at Paul while the manuscript tradition would incline more towards Rome. The date of writing of the letter is probably to be placed during Paul’s stay in Asia Minor between 51 and 55.
Paul has a problem to sort out with Philemon. Onesimus, slave of Philemon, as a result of ‘indelicacy’ (“if he did you any wrong…’: Phm. V18) fled. Meeting Paul he became attached to him, was converted and received the baptism from him. He even became a collaborator. Paul knows, however, that Roman law obliges him to make a runaway slave to his master. What he does.
Paul therefore sends Onesimus to Colossus in the company of Tychicus (Col 4.9). He is the bearer of this letter in which Paul’s personality appears in a very human light. He does not force anything, does not order anything, but invites Philemon to receive his former slave as a beloved brother (“He is so to me. Receive him as if he were me”: Phm v16). If he was wronged, let it be blamed on Paul (“I will pay …”: Phm v19). Paul is almost begging: “I know that you will do even more than I say …” Phm v21).
Paul concludes the letter with the announcement of his visit and the customary greetings to relatives of Philemon and other members of the church (Christian community) of Colossus.
Read also: The Complete Holy Bible
Phm 1:1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon, our dear helper in the faith,
Phm 1:2 And to Apphia, our sister, and to Archippus, our brother in God’s army, and to the church in your house:
Phm 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Phm 1:4 I give praise to God at all times and make prayer for you,
Phm 1:5 Hearing of the love and the faith which you have to the Lord Jesus and to all the saints;
Phm 1:6 That the faith which you have in common with them may be working with power, in the knowledge of every good thing in you, for Christ.
Phm 1:7 For I had great joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been made strong again through you, brother.
Phm 1:8 And so, though I might, in the name of Christ, give you orders to do what is right,
Phm 1:9 Still, because of love, in place of an order, I make a request to you, I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner of Christ Jesus:
Phm 1:10 My request is for my child Onesimus, the child of my chains,
Phm 1:11 Who in the past was of no profit to you, but now is of profit to you and to me:
Phm 1:12 Whom I have sent back to you, him who is my very heart:
Phm 1:13 Though my desire was to keep him with me, to be my servant in the chains of the good news, in your place:
Phm 1:14 But without your approval I would do nothing; so that your good works might not be forced, but done freely from your heart.
Phm 1:15 For it is possible that for this reason he was parted from you for a time, so that you might have him for ever;
Phm 1:16 No longer as a servant, but more than a servant, a brother, very dear to me specially, but much more to you, in the flesh as well as in the Lord.
Phm 1:17 If then you take me to be your friend and brother, take him in as myself.
Phm 1:18 If he has done you any wrong or is in debt to you for anything, put it to my account.
Phm 1:19 I, Paul, writing this myself, say, I will make payment to you: and I do not say to you that you are in debt to me even for your life.
Phm 1:20 So brother, let me have joy of you in the Lord: give new life to my heart in Christ.
Phm 1:21 Being certain that you will do my desire, I am writing to you, in the knowledge that you will do even more than I say.
Phm 1:22 And make a room ready for me; for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be given to you.
Phm 1:23 Epaphras, my brother-prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his love;
Phm 1:24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my brother-workers.
Phm 1:25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. So be it.