I meet with a group of guys each week and we just completed a quick study of the book of Philemon. Our last exercise was to write the letter in our own words. This is what I came up with…
It’s Paul. I’m in jail. Some object to the message of Christ that I share, but I’m pleased that He is the most important thing in my life. For now, I’m right where God wants me. Timothy’s here too. I think you know him. He’s at my side, writing this letter for me.
My guards and I have an agreement. I won’t leave the house and they won’t chain themselves to me. They know I won’t run. Can you picture a group of Roman guards chasing a 60-year-old man down the street? What a sight that would be. Anyway, it’s more uncomfortable for them to be chained to me all day than it is for me. They pretty much just hang around and listen to me talk about Jesus or watch me do my leather work. Some ask about the letters I write. Not all are sympathetic to the cause of Christ but some are.
Before I forget, share this letter with Apphia. Because of her role in running the household, she will be interested in my request. Also, show it to Archippus, and read it to your house church and the believers who attend each week.
My prayer list is long and you are on it. I pray for you frequently. I’ve heard many good things about your ministry and how you lift up other believers. It gives me great joy to hear this. Your love is important to me, and it is so reassuring to have you as a co-worker with me in the cause of Christ. Blessings to you and your family, not from me, but from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I’d like to ask a favor, Philemon. Our relationship is such that I could demand it, but I know that’s not necessary. You’re a generous man and I pray you will be moved to do as I ask. Onesimus is here and he said the two of you had a falling out over some household issues. We’ve talked several times and during one of our afternoon’s together, you’ll be thrilled to know, he gave his life to Christ. What a moving sight. Seeing him at my feet, tears streaming down his face as he clutched my hands and prayed for salvation reminded me of your conversion. Now, he has become a spiritual son to me. I ask you to accept him as a beloved brother in Christ. An equal in God’s eyes, treated the same way you would treat me. Introduce him to the church and share with everyone his salvation and your intent to set him free. Think back to when you too were in need of a savior and I shared the good news with you. I’m not keeping score Phil, but you owe me big time for that one.
If you’ve suffered any loss, let me know. I’m happy for you to impute that debt to me. Here’s my signature, showing my intent to cover whatever he might owe you.
I would love to have Onesimus here with me. Confined, as I am, his presence would make my ministry much more productive. He could assist me just as you would if you were here. For your sake and mine, I know you’ll do what I ask and more.
I hope to be released and to visit you soon. Please prepare a place for me to stay. Grace and peace to you, your family, and the saints in Colossae.