1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,
"Philemon" = "affectionate" and to be a "prisoner of Christ" is a good thing. You're obligated to follow and serve as the Christian you should be.
2 And to our beloved
Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:
His house; Colossians 4:17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it. This would be his Church in Colosse where his family went.
3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you accept that "Grace" = favor, you should let that sink in and believe it will all work out now. Have peace of mind because you are on that new path. Now it's up to you to walk it and stay on it.
4 I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,
Philemon and his family are always in Paul's prayers.
5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus , and toward all saints;
Paul is letting Philemon know what an asset he is to the work of The Lord.
6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
The people are watching to see what Philemon does with this slave Onesimus. It's going to let the people know if Philemon is all talk, or if he walks the walk of his words in Christ.
7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.
Paul is laying it on Philemon of what a blessing he is to everyone, but it holds true, so why not speak it. Be a blessing to others, speak The Truth!
8 Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient,
What Paul is saying is, You think I might be a bit too bold, but this is who I am in Christ. Straight forward and nothing but The Truth. In this evil world today, people only want to hear what they want, not what they need. Without The Truth, your still in bondage.
9 Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:
Paul's telling Philemon that Onesimus' would bring profit back to him as a fellow brother in Christ. This runaway slave broke his contract that he had with his master, but would return a new man. When we are without Christ, we are slaves to the world. Only in Christ can we break the bonds of this world and feel the peace that has been waiting all along.
11 Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:
We aren't born with knowledge, we ONLY gain it by STUDY of The Word. Onesimus wasn't born following God's Ways, but became new as we all do in Christ.
12 Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:
Onesimus will be a great help to Philemon and Paul is calling out a favor. They're not flesh, but of the same spirit, The Christian family. That is if you can call leading someone to The Truth something that receives something in return. There is really no reason to return a favor to someone that shows Christ brings eternal life, but if it can help spread The Word to others, why not.
13 Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:
Paul mediators between the two. He's letting Philemon know he would rather keep Onesimus with him, then send him back, but as by the law, he must return him back to Philemon.
14 But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.
Philemon lost a slave but gained a brother in Christ. How much better would it be to gain another in the family of Christ than anything else in life.
15 For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever;
Onesimus is returning a brother in Christ, not a slave for the flesh. Philemon will receive him with love.
16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?
On a spiritual level, when we let go of the flesh, we are no longer a slave to it. Becoming a new creature in The Lord sets us free while in this body.
17 If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.
Paul is telling Philemon, if you consider me as a part of your family in Christ, do the same for Onesimus.
18 If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;
Whatever Onesimus owes you, I'll cover it.
19 I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.
Paul is giving a commitment on paper to the debt owed, but making a point to the debt Philemon owes him. I had someone need my help with fixing something for them. They now owe me some time I will use to plant a study of God's Word in them. A Christian will use things to help others come closer to God, even if that person doesn't see it that way.
20 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.
In other words, let me find profit in this action also, in your taking back our spiritual brother in the Lord. Let everything be for the greater good of God.
21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.
Paul knows Philemon will go above and beyond to fulfill the agreement. Christians will do that you know! Paul knows Philemon will accept Onesimus as a brother in Christ, forgiving the debt and going to his fullest to help him.
22 But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.
Paul is looking forward to when he can return to Colosse and be with all his brethren.
23 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus;
It's so wonderful to have others with the same mind = belief, in your life.
24 Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.
More of those Paul finds have the same mind! What a blessing!
25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.