8 That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do. 9 But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you. Consider this as a request from me—Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus.
10 I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison. 11 Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us. 12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.
13 I wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and he would have helped me on your behalf. 14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced. 15 It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever. 16 He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL!
20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.
21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more!22 One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon. Philemon 8-22
Paul writes in his letter that he could demand that Philemon do this in Christ because it is only right to forgive a brother or sister in the Lord. But Paul appeals to the love that is within us because of Christ Jesus. For everything we do should be motivated by the love of Christ. People will know that we are disciples by the love that is within us and it is this very love that Paul is appealing Philemon to act on.
Paul refers to Onesimus as his own child in the faith because it is under the ministry of Paul while he was in prison that Onesimus came to saving faith in Christ Jesus. When Onesimus ran away from Philemon he was not yet a believer. But now the apostle Paul appeals to Philemon to receive Onesimus because he is a child of God and a fellow brother in the Lord. When Paul states that he is his very heart it shows the love, Paul has for Onesimus. It is truly amazing how the Lord transforms the life of a person by transforming their heart. When we examine who Paul was before he came to know Christ and we read these words as Paul is now an old man and close to leaving this earth, it is truly a picture of the grace and power of God.
Paul’s desire was to have Onesimus stay with him and aide him in his ministry. But Paul knew the right thing to do would be to send Onesimus back to Philemon. Paul’s appeal is for Philemon to forgive Onesimus and not receive him as a runaway slave, but to receive him as a brother in the Lord. This is a true picture of God’s grace for us. For all of us are born into sin and don’t deserve the mercy and grace of God. But God in His love, compassion, grace, and mercy receives us into His kingdom and His family. May we always be willing to forgive those who wrong us and always to lavish on others the grace and love that Christ Jesus has for us.
Paul appeals to the fact that Paul is the one who led Philemon to the Lord. This is why Paul says that he owes him his very soul. Paul also states that whatever Onesimus may owe that it can be charged to the apostle Paul. Our lives should be lived according to God and His ways and whenever we have the opportunity to demonstrate the love, mercy, and grace of God we should do so. The measure at which we pour it out to others is the measure it will be returned back to us.
Paul’s hope is that Philemon would heed the request of Paul. He is also hoping that Philemon would prepare a guest room for Paul so that when Paul got done in prison that He would have a place to stay. Christian charity is so vital to the spread and advancement of God’s kingdom. When the apostle Paul would travel from area to area preaching and ministering he often relied on the charity of others to give him a place to stay. It was all established by the Lord. We must remember that nothing we have on this earth belongs to us. We are simply called to be stewards of that which God has entrusted us with. Paul’s appeal to Philemon was for Philemon to forgive and receive Onesimus. When we understand what Christ has done for us we will never have an issue for forgiving those who have wronged us or injured us.