Philemon chapter 1 is a brief letter from the apostle Paul to Philemon. It consists of only one chapter that was written by Paul while he was in jail.
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Paul’s Greeting to Philemon
Paul began this letter by greeting Philemon, a wealthy householder who held church services in his own house. Paul also greeted Apphia and Archippus, both of whom may have been members of the household with Philemon. Paul also went on to greet the members of the church who met in Philemon’s home.
Paul told Philemon that he mentioned him often in prayer and that he was happy in the steadfastness of Philemon’s faith. He also said that Philemon’s love had been encouraging to Paul and others.
Paul Writes about Onesimus
Paul, who was in prison when he wrote this letter, was writing Philemon Chapter 1 about a man named Onesimus, who was Philemon’s slave. Even though Onesimus was a slave, Paul considered him a son. And though Paul admitted that at one time Onesimus was useless to Philemon, he was now quite useful to both Philemon and Paul. This was actually a pun on Onesimus’ name because his name actually means “useful.”
Paul’s Reason for the Letter
Paul said he was sending Onesimus back to Philemon, even though he, Paul, could still use him as a helper. Paul urged Philemon to take Onesimus back, not as a slave, but as a fellow Christian. Philemon should receive this slave as he would have received Paul if he came to his home. Paul even offered to pay off any debts that Onesimus owed to Philemon.
Paul then mentioned that he was certain that Philemon would obey him in this. He even went further and asked Philemon to prepare a room for Paul in his home. Paul was sure that he would be released from prison soon enough. Before signing off, Paul went on to greet more of his fellow “prisoners and laborers” in Christ.
Philemon (King James Version)
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 thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, 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 Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:
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 without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.
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 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels 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. (Written from Rome to Philemon, by Onesimus a servant.)