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Read Introduction to Philemon


“whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel.”


whom I wished to keep with me,

Paul desired to keep Onesimus in Rome so that he could minister to Paul in prison.  Prisoners in the Roman Empire depended on outsiders to meet their physical needs. 

that on your behalf he might minister to me

Paul would use Onesimus for logistical and ministry reasons while in prison.  The phrase “on your behalf” indicates that Onesimus served in place of Philemon in ministering to Paul in jail.  This is an indirect appeal to Philemon to send Onesimus back to Paul in Rome. 

in my chains for the gospel

Paul reminded Philemon that he was in jail because of the gospel.  The gospel message is worth the risk of imprisonment.  The word “gospel” means good news.  It is good news that Jesus died for our sins and rose again to win victory over sin and death. 

Php 1:7, “…just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.”

Php 1:12, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me (imprisonment) have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel


The clarity of moral principles enables us to make quick and true moral choices. 


It is important to have a clear view of what belongs to whom.  If we understand what belongs to others, we can make crisp and clear moral decisions.  Otherwise, it is very easy to rationalize things in our favor.