This letter is from Paul, in prison for preaching the Good News about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. It is written to Philemon, our much loved co-worker,
and to our sister Apphia and to Archippus, a fellow soldier of the cross. I am also writing to the church that meets in your house.
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
I always thank God when I pray for you, Philemon,
because I keep hearing of your trust in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people.
You are generous because of your faith. And I am praying that you will really put your generosity to work, for in so doing you will come to an understanding of all the good things we can do for Christ.
I myself have gained much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because your kindness has so often refreshed the hearts of God's people.
That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do,
but because of our love, I prefer just to ask you. So take this as a request from your friend Paul, an old man, now in prison for the sake of Christ Jesus.
My plea is that you show kindness to Onesimus. I think of him as my own son because he became a believer as a result of my ministry here in prison.
Onesimus a hasn't been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us.
I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.
I really wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and he would have helped me on your behalf.
But I didn't want to do anything without your consent. And I didn't want you to help because you were forced to do it but because you wanted to.
Perhaps you could think of it this way: Onesimus ran away for a little while so you could have him back forever.
He is no longer just a slave; he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a slave and as a brother in the Lord.
So if you consider me your partner, give him the same welcome you would give me if I were coming.
If he has harmed you in any way or stolen anything from you, charge me for it.
I, Paul, write this in my own handwriting: "I will repay it." And I won't mention that you owe me your very soul!
Yes, dear brother, please do me this favor for the Lord's sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.
I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more!
Please keep a guest room ready for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon.
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings.
So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)