The Epistle of Paul to Philemon - Φιλήμονα - is preceded by his Letter to Titus and followed by the Letter to the Hebrews. The Letter to Philemon is one of the 5 Captivity Epistles, along with
Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, and Second Timothy in the New Testament of the Bible.
In this short letter, St. Paul appeals to Philemon to take back his runaway slave, not just as a slave but as a brother in Christ. Onesimus (Colossians 4:9) had run away and found Paul imprisoned (1:10, 1:13), and became a convert under Paul. Paul decided to send him back to his master Philemon in Colossae in Asia Minor.
While this letter of Paul to Philemon may be brief, it is quite important, for it urges the treatment of slaves with brotherly love, a principle that will ultimately put an end to slavery, the custom of Roman times. Verse 14 speaks of free will. Paul is hopeful to visit Philemon for he asks him to keep a guest room for him (1:22). In addition to Epaphras (who evangelized Colossae - Colossians 1:7) and the others, the Final Greeting is noteworthy as it identifies both Mark and Luke as his companions and fellow workers.
The following Scripture is from the Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible, now in the public domain, and the Revised Standard Version. King James I commissioned a group of Biblical scholars in 1604 to establish an authoritative translation of the Bible from the ancient languages and other translations at the time, and the work was completed in 1611. The original King James Bible included the Apocrypha but in a separate section. A literary masterpiece of the English language, the original King James Bible is still in use today. Verses 7, 12, 14 and 20 of Scripture are worded as the Revised Standard Version. Permission to publish Scripture quotations from the Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible (copyright 1946, 1952, and 1971), has been granted by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,
2 and to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:
3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, 5 hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; 6 that the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
8 Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. 10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: 11 which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: 12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:
14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent
in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own free will.
15 For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; 16 not now as a servant,
but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?
17 If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. 18 If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; 19 I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides. 20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. 21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.
22 But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you. 23 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; 24 Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers. 25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.