Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon, our beloved fellow worker, 2 and to our sister Apphia, and to Archippus our fellow soldier (and to the church in your house): Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gratitude and Prayer for Philemon

4 I always give thanks to my God when I mention you in my prayers, 5 for I am constantly hearing about your love for all the saints, and about your faith in the Lord Jesus.1 6 And I pray that the fellowship that springs from your faith will become even more effective in deepening your knowledge2 of every good thing that is in us3 in Christ. 7 For I have received much joy and encouragement from your love, because you, dear brother, have so often refreshed the hearts of the saints.4

A Heartfelt Request

For this reason, although I have the freedom5 in Christ to order you to do the right thing, 9 yet for love’s sake I choose instead to appeal to you, since I am6 “Paul, the aged,” and now a prisoner of Christ Jesus as well. 10 I appeal to you, then, concerning my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten here in prison. 11 Formerly, he was useless to you; now, however, he is useful both to you and to me. 12 I have sent him—which is to say, my heart itself—back to you. 13 I wanted to keep him here with me, so that he could minister to me on your behalf while I’m in prison for the cause of the gospel.7 14 But I was unwilling to do anything without your knowledge or consent, so that your kindness might not come as a result of compulsion, but rather of your own free will.8 15 For perhaps this is why he was separated from you for a little while: so that you might have him back forever; and 16 no longer as a slave, but as more than a slave: as a beloved brother—especially to me, and9 all the more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord!

I Will Repay!

17 If, then, you regard me as your partner, receive him just as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you in any way, or if he owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay. (I’m saying this so I won’t need to remind you that you owe me something as well: your very life!)10 20 Yes, brother, let me receive a benefit11 from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.


21 Having confidence in your obedience, I have written you in the knowledge that you will do even more than I say. 22 And as you do it,12 prepare lodgings for me as well, because I hope and trust that through your prayers I will be granted to you soon.

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke—my fellow workers.

25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.


  1. Lit. your love and the faith you have towards the Lord Jesus and for all the saints.
  2. Lit. that the fellowship (communion, sharing) of your faith might become effective in the true spiritual knowledge
  3. Some early mss in you (plural)
  4. Lit. because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.
  5. Or confidence
  6. Lit. being such a one as
  7. Lit. in the chains of the gospel
  8. Lit. but voluntarily
  9. Or but
  10. Lit. repay (in order that I not say to you that you also owe me yourself)
  11. The name Onesimus means beneficial, useful; see also v. 11
  12. Lit. at the same time