Chapter One (the only chapter)
“I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.” Vs.10
He is Paul’s spiritual son because he was converted through Paul’s ministry.
Paul makes a play on words. Onesimus’ name means ‘useful’ or ‘profitable’.
Onesimus had run away, and may also have been stealing. See vs. 18
“I am sending him back.” Vs. 12
Paul wanted to keep Onesimus with him, in the place of Philemon, but did not want to do it without Philemon’s consent.
Paul appeals to the principle that a free and voluntary action is of more value than one that is compulsory.
“For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave—a beloved brother.” Vs. 15,16
Paul seems to be saying that in the sovereignty of God, even this disobedience by Onesimus has been used by God for the ultimate good (the salvation of Onesimus) and the benefit to Paul and Philemon.
Paul seems to be suggesting Philemon set Onesimus free.
“…receive him as you would me.” Vs. 17
Paul is willing to throw his friendship with Philemon into the balance to make sure that Philemon will not refuse his request for Onesimus.
“But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.” Vs. 18
Paul offers to pay Onesimus’ debts.
He puts his money where his mouth is.
“…you owe me even your own self besides.” Vs.19
Philemon’s conversion was also the result of Paul’s ministry.
“Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.” Vs. 21
Paul trusts that Philemon will do the right thing.
“Prepare a guest room.”
Paul anticipates being released from prison.
It would be something else to have him as a house guest!