Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.
Comment: This seems to be a personal letter from Paul, probably using Timothy as his scribe, to one Philemon. In seems as though, since a church meets in Philemon’s house, that others are expected to hear about what Paul is writing. The next bit is no doubt very sincere as Paul talks about Philemon’s faith and what it should mean to him and how it should cause him to act. But in some ways it seems to be the formula according to which letters in those days were written – particularly letters from leaders to fledgling churches. And the church meeting in Philemon’s house was not a megachurch! This section was meaningful but in this case almost ‘padding’ to allow Paul to get to the main point of the correspondence! What this bit says is very true and significant. Then he gets down to the real business for this letter. It was about a guy called Onesimus. And Paul, using his authority as an elder and claiming age and his being imprisoned for his faith, is going ‘in to bat’ for this guy. To bat for Onesimus with whom Paul now has a father/son relationship.
Prayer: Please help me to develop significant relationships with my ‘neighbours’.