Philemon 8–22 (ESV)
Paul’s Plea for Onesimus
8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I,
Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but
now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf
during my imprisonment for 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 accord. 15 For this perhaps
is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the
flesh and in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If
he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes,
brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
21 Confident of your obedience, I write
to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.
Paul makes a plea for the freedom of Onesimus and bases his case on grace, love, and friendship. By example, Paul intercedes for Onesimus, just as Jesus Christ intercedes for us. Jesus has called us friend; to whom should we extend
friendship in His name? As our friend, His grace and love give us salvation and the hope of eternal life.
I pray: Lord, hear me as a dear friend and fellow servant to
those in need. Make me a gift to them. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 2097.