Translation of Philemon
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Note: The superscripted numerals refer to the critical apparatus which appears at the end of this translation.
1 Paul, bound-prisoner-one1 of
Christ2 Jesus, and Timothy3 the brother-fellow-believer (adelphos), to Philemon the beloved-one4 and
fellow-laborer of us , 2 and to Apphia
the sister-fellow-believer5 (adelphe),
and to Archippos6 the fellow-soldier7 of
us and to the Christian-gathering8 (ekklesia), [Philemon, Apphia, Archippos, and ekklesia are all dative
nouns and appear to be the addressees of the letter] just as (a) house
of you [kat oikon is AMS and appears to
be an idiom used to designate or perhaps reinforce the inclusive sense
of an entire household]. 3 Grace to you all (plur) and peace by means of God
Father of us and of Lord Jesus Christ9.
4 I give thanks10 to my God always a mention/remembrance of you making11 for myself in (the time of) my prayers.12 5 Hearing of you the love13 and the faith which you (sing.) have/are having14 to15 the Lord Jesus and to all the holy ones/saints, 6 how/so that the fellowship/sharing/commonality of your (sing.) faith may/might become effective/busy/active in full knowledge/acknowledgement16 of all of good17 the in us18 into Christ.19 7 For I/they had much/great20 joy21 and comfort/encourgement in your love, that the inward parts/"heart"/bowels of the holy ones/saints have been refreshed through you (sing.), brother.
8 Therefore in Christ I (am) having great boldness/freedom of speech to order/command you (sing.) the fitting/proper/required (thing). 9 Through (the) love more I appeal/implore/beseech, such being as Paul, the elder/aged/old man/ambassador22 but now even a prisoner of Christ Jesus. 10 I appeal/implore/beseech you (sing.) concerning the of-me child, Onesimus, 11 the then/formerly to you (sing.) useless but now even to you (sing.) and to me useful, 12 who he was sent back to you (sing.), him, this (one) is my inward parts/"heart"/bowels23 13 who I myself was willing/desiring for myself to detain/keep in order that on behalf of you he might serve me in the imprisonment of the good news/gospel, 14 but without the of-you consent/mind/purpose nothing I wished to do, in order that not according to necessity/compulsion your good/goodness might be, but according to own free will/obedience.
15 For perhaps on account of this (he) was separated toward an season/period of time, in order that you might have him in full forever/lasting,16 no longer as a slave but beyond/over/more than a
slave, a beloved brother24, especially to/for me, and how much more to/for you both in flesh and in (the) Lord.25 17 If therefore you hold me a
partner/ally/common participant, receive/assist/take hold of him
as me. 18 And if (he) wronged/injured you something or owes (you
something), charge this to me.26 19 I, Paul, wrote27 by my own hand,28 I
will repay29; lest I say to you that you owe even yourself to me.30 20
Yes, brother, may I be benefitted31 (rare NT optative usage) by you in the Lord. Refresh my
affections32 in Christ.33 21 Having been pursuaded about your obedience I
wrote to you, knowing that you will do even beyond/above what things34 I
say. 22 And at the same time even prepare a hospitable reception35 for
me. For I hope that through your (pl.) prayers I shall be given36 to you
23 Epaphras, the
me in to Christ Jesus, has sent you (the deponent verb aspazomai requires an Acc) polite
respects37 (Pres Mid), [as do, or, in
addition] 24 Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, the
fellow-worker-ones of me [perhaps
referring to Mark, Aristachus, Demas, and Luke as the fellow-worker-ones
- or might there be other unnamed fellow-worker-ones besides those
listed?] 25 The grace of the Lord
Jesus Christ of alongside with the Spirit-of-God of you all.38
Note: JEA's translation appears at the end of the Critical Apparatus.
1 Some scribes suggest replacing "prisoner" with "apostle", adding "apostle"
to "prisoner", or replacing "apostle" with "slave", but the manuscript support
is not from the Alexandrian family.
Marginal notes indicate that additional references relevant to the
description of Paul as prisoner will be found in Philippians 1:7 and
sources cited there in the marginal notes. The Philippians citation
mentions Paul's imprisonment. For example, other verses mention Paul's
fetters (Col. 4:18; 2 Tim. 2:9) and Paul being the Lord's prisoner (2 Tim
2 Marginal notes at Phil. 1:7 reference Ephesians 3:1 " I, Paul, a prisoner
of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles" and Ephesians 4:1 "I,
therefore, a prisoner of the Lord."
3 Marginal notes direct the reader to Acts 16:1 and additional sources
cited in the margin point to instances when Timothy is mentioned
in conjunction with Paul.
4 Some scribes insert "brother" but the manuscript support is not
5 An alternative reading with minimal Alexandrian support would be
either "beloved sister" or "beloved."
6 Marginal notes reference Col. 4:17 where Archippus is charged to be
"faithful to the ministry which you have received in the Lord."
7 Marginal notes cite 2 Tim 2:3 which references "soldier of Christ."
8 Marginal notes reference Romans 16:5 and other citations listed there
in marginal notes for additional greetings to the church in your/their
9Marginal notes reference Romans 1:7 where a similar greeting is given
and marginal notes give additional citations.
10 PAI 1s of eucharisteo
11 PM Ptc NMS of poieo
12 Marginal notes indicate that I Cor. 1:4 is a passage related to v. 4
by the common theme of thanksgiving. In fact, the first five words of I
Cor. 1:4, "Eucharisto to theo mou pantote", are an exact duplicate
of the first five words in v. 4.
Marginal notes at I Cor. 1:4 send the
reader to Romans 1:8, Phil. 1:3, I Thes. 1:, 2:13, II Thes. 1:3, Eph.
5:20, Rev. 12:6, and II Cor. 8:1. In addition, the first three words of
Colossians 1:3 are an exact duplicate of the first three words of v. 4.
13 The alternative word order ("pistin kai ten agapen") does not have
strong support in the Alexandrian family.
14 PAI 2s of echw
15 The alternative reading of "eis ton kurion Iesoun" has fairly strong
support from the Alexandrian family (Sinaiticus, C, and 33).
16 Support for the insertion of "ergou" after "pantos" is not strong.
17 The Alexandrian family is split over whether the text should read
"tou", "—", or "he."
18 Although evidence for the alternative "en humin" (2 pl. dative) seems
to be slightly stronger than evidence for Nestle-Aland's choice of "en
hemin", internal evidence indicates that "en hemin" is more likely
because "en hemin" (1 pl. dative) is located among other pronouns that
are 2nd person singular and plural. Thus, "en hemin" is the more
difficult reading (lectio difficilior). In fact, it seems more likely
that copyists would have changed "en hemin" to "en hemin" to make it
more grammatically consistent. In short, "en hemin" seems to be the best
19 Support for the insertion of "Iesoun" after "Christon" is somewhat
strong: two members of the Alexandrian family (Sinaiticus and 1739) support this
insertion. However, the shorter reading (lectio brevior) is arguably the
Marginal notes direct the reader to I Cor. 1:9, Gal. 5:6, and Phil. 1:9.
The latter is related to v. 6 by the common theme of the hope for
20Support for the alternative readings for "pollen escon" are not
21 Support for the alternative reading of "charin" for "charan" is not
The apparatus offers three variant readings of this verse. Metzger
contends that these variants are scribes' attempts to smooth out
otherwise difficult syntax.
Marginal notes direct the reader to II Cor. 7:4
22 Bentley proposes that this word "presbutes" is an alternative spelling of
ambassador (see Ephesians 6:20).
23Metzger offers three variant readings of this verse. He contends tha these variants are scribes' attempt to smooth out otherwise difficult syntax.
24 The marginal note directs the reader to I Tim. 6:2. This verse is part
of a longer passage which instructs believing slaves to honor and obey
their believing masters so as to glorify God. Verse 2 specifically
instructs the slaves that although the two of them are brothers (or
sisters) in Christian faith the slave must continue to honor the master
and to serve with even more diligence.
25 The marginal note directs the reader to I Cor. 7:22. The longer passage
of which this is a part, as with I Tim. 6:2, gives instructions to
believing slaves. In 7:22, we have a play on the slave/freedman
relationship in that a Christian is simultaneously slave and free under
The marginal note at I Cor. 7:22 directs the reader to Ephesians 6:6.
Again, this passage contains instructions for slaves and the continuing
theme that believing slaves should for Christ's sake be better slaves
than the norm. Another reference at I Cor. 7:22 directs the search to
John 8:36. Beginning at v.34, the Gospel writer uses slavery as an
analogy for sin. Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. However, just as a
person doesn't remain a slave forever, neither will one who believes in
Christ remain a slave to sin. The marginal note at John 8:36 sends the
reader to more related passages. Galatians 4:30 is another allusion to
slavery. In Romans 6:18-20, Paul tells his readers that having been set
free of sin by Christ they are now slaves to righteousness. II Cor. 3:17
is a reference to freedom being found where the Spirit of the Lord is
found. Last, is the admonition, "For freedom Christ has set us free;
stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
26 "Elloga" in the text is supported by six members of the Alexandrian
family; however, "ellogei" is supported by Claromontanus, a member of the
Alexandrian Family (Psi), 1739, 1881 and the Koine Family.
In addition, the marginal note directs the reader to Romans 15:7, which
has the same theme.
27 Aor Act Ind epistolary aorist which is translated by the
present tense in English. It indicates that Onesimus carried the letter.
28 Marginal notes direct the reader to I Cor. 16:21 and additional
sources are cited there. I Cor. 16:21, Col. 4:18, and II Thess. 3:17
have the exact same phrase: "I, Paul, write this greeting with my own
hand." The greeting of Paul in my own hand). Galatians 6:11: "See what
large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand!"
29 FAI of "apotino", pay back. A legal technical term and appears in
30 According to the critical apparatus, Codex D has an insertion, "en
kurio", at the end.
31 AM Optative of "oninamai", benefit, profit, have joy. The optative is
used to express a wish and was used in the formula "may I have joy,
profit, or benefit" and was used with the gen. of the person or thing
that is the source of the joy or profit.
32 Marginal notes direct the reader to Phlm. 7 and additional sources
are cited there. In Phlm. 7 and 20, "ta splagchna" (heart/entrails/compassion) and "anapauo" (refresh) are used together.
In Phlm. 20--the heart (accu. neut. pl.) of me. In Phlm. 7--the heart
(nom. neut. pl.) of the saints. In Phlm. 12, Paul refers to Onesimus as
"my very heart" (nom. neut. pl.). II Cor. 7: 4--"paraklesei" (?)
33 There is an alternative reading, "kurio", instead of "Christo". But
Alexandrian witnesses (codex Sinaiticus, C, Psi) support the Nestle-Aland
34 There is an alternative reading of the relative pronoun, neut. accu.
sing (ho) instead of pl. (ha). Two Alexandrian witnesses (Codex
Sinaiticus, C) support the text, while one Alexandrian witness (Psi)
supports the other.
35 Marginal notes direct the reader to Phil. 1:25 and one additional
source, Phil. 2:24, is cited there. All these verses show the desire
and intent of Paul to come to them.
36 Future Pass. Ind. of "charizomai", give graciously, grant somebody to
someone. The passive voice suggests that it is God who alone can secure
Paul's release, though Paul relies on the prayer of the community to
entreat God for this favor. (Divine Passive).
37 There is an alternative reading, "aspazontai" (3 pl Pres. Mid. Ind. of
"aspazomai"), which no Alexandrian witness supports. The text, "aspazetai"
(3 sing.) is supported by three Alexandrian witnesses (Codex Sinaiticus,
C, and Psi).
38 After "kuriou", Two Alexandrian witnesses (C, Psi) add "hemon". The text is
supported by one Alexandrian witness, Codex Sinaiticus. Among the
Alexandrian texts, is Codex Sinaiticus more valuable? Metzger says, "If
the pronoun were present originally, it is difficult to account for its
omission in Codex Sinaiticus, P, 33, 81, 104 etc. . ., whereas copyists
were prone to introduce such natural expansions." At the end of the
verse, three Alexandrian witnesses (Codex Sinaiticus, C, Psi) add
liturgical Amen. No Alexandrian witnesses support the text. Why did
Nestle-Aland choose the text which is not supported by any Alexandrian
PAUL'S EPISTLE TO PHILEMON
Translation by JEA
working draft - March, 1999
1 Paul, a bound-one ["desmios" cf. vv. 9, 10, 13 (16)] of Christ Jesus, and Timothy the brothered- one, to Philemon the beloved-one and our co-laborer, 2 and to Apphia [your?] wife [the sister or the wife-sister or the sistered-one? who is she?] and to Archippos our co-soldier, and to the of-your [sing.]-household "ekklesia." 3 Grace to you all and peace from God our father and [our] Lord Jesus Christ!
4 I am thankful (Gr. "eucharisto") to my God always making remembrance of you (sing.) at my times of prayer 5 as I hear of your (sing.) love and the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus ([= the love?] and in all the saints [= the faith? as pertains to the ones made holy/new?] 6 in order that [purpose clause introduced by "hopos"] the common-cause bond of your (sing.) faith may become vital [active? activated? Gr. "energes" modifying bond] in the realization of all that is good among us into [=?] Christ; 7 for I had [Gr. "eschon" 2nd. aor.] great joy and sense of the common-cause bond (comfort? advocacy?? "Paraklesis" as in "Ekklesis/ia"???) at your (sing.) love that the compassions [Gr. "splanchnon/a" Christian motivations or stirrings?] of the saints [cf. above v. 5] are being refreshed [Gr. "anapauo" rest and thereby refresh, make fit (after sleep?)] through you (sing.), brothered-one!
8 On account of which [=?] having much boldness in Christ [prep. phrase as adj.? apostolic authority?] to arrange [antonym of Gr. "hypotassomai"??? issue orders, command?] for you the proper thing [= your duty?], 9 I am beseeching [parenetic t.t.? appealing to the common-cause bond?] rather for the sake of love [Gr. "agape"] - this "I" being the one [who speaks] as Paul the elder ["senior," old man? experienced-one, veteran, like a household-kyrios? cf. Bentley conjecture "ambassador"; also L.S. sv "presbus"], "but now" [Gr. "nuni de" eschatological now!] also as the bound-one of Christ Jesus - 10 I am beseeching you (sing.) concerning my child, whom I birthed [Gr. gennao" cf. to beget] in the [my (cf. apparatus)?] bonds [as apostolic bound-one?], Onesimus [= useful-one; cf. play on words in vv. 11 and 20 > "oninemi"; BAG, p. 570], 11 the one once upon a time to you "not-useful" [prefix = alpha-privative] but now [Gr. "nuni de" cf. v. 9] "well-useful" [prefix = "eu"] to you and to me, 12 whom I sent back [Gr. "anapempo" = "send up"?] to you (sing.) - him, that is my compassions (cf. v. 7) 13 whom I was wanting to retain toward myself in order that on your behalf to me he might minister [Gr. "diakoneo"] in the bonds of the gospel [phrase as t.t.??], 14 but without your knowledge nothing I wished to do in order that your (sing.) good thing [t.t.??] may not be as according to necessity but as according to free will [Gr. "hekousion"].
15 For possibly (Gr. "tacha" adv. only here and Rom. 5:7) on account of this thing [= the opportunity alluded to in v. 14??] he was taken away [divine passive?] for a time in order that you (sing.) might "acquire" [Gr. "apecho" = settle up; give a sum and receive a receipt; cf. Mk. 14:41!] with respect to him eternally, 16 [i.e.] no longer as a slave but [as] a "beyond slave," a beloved brothered-one, especially [so] for me, but how much the more for you (sing.) both "in the flesh" and "in the Lord" [= as pertains to the human slave/master relationship and its new shape in the Christian oikos? Cf. BAG, p. 744; cf. v. 19 codex D; also the saying in Mk. 14:38!] . 17 Therefore, if you have the bond [restraint?] of common cause with me in this matter, take him as [though you are taking] me into your oikos (Gr. "proslambano" t.t. for the hospitality of Christians receiving one another; cf. BAG, p. 717; cf. also v. 12 apparatus)! 18 And if he did you any injustice or owes you anything, charge this thing to me (Gr. "ellogeo" commercial t.t., cf. BAG, p. 252; also there re. form in Rom. 5:13)! 19 I, Paul, wrote [this] in my hand(writing) [ = I signed the note?]; I will pay the damages (Gr. "apotino" = legal t.t., cf. BAG, p. 101 for use in the papyri etc.), in order that I might not say that you owe yourself to me [Gr. "prosopheilo" + reflx. pronoun = are in my debt for any reason? Cf. BAG, p. 717; also codex D in apparatus. Rom. 13:8ff for the oikos?). 20 Yes, brothered-one, may I have the benefit of you "in the Lord" (Gr. "oninemi>onaimen" 2nd aor. optative with play on the name "onesimos" + "in the Lord" as formulaic t.ts. = "may the Lord make this ' onesiming of you' happen"??? Cf. above vv. 10f; also BAG, p. 570)! Refresh [= bring rest to?] my compassions [as v. 7 above?] "in Christ" (formula?)!
21 Having been persuaded [perf. ptcp. + dat. > "...almost = believe in" BAG, p. 639; = trust in, depend on; divine passive??? cf. v. 20] with regard to your obedience [cf. household code terminology for "douloi;" also, v. 14 above] I wrote to you, knowing that you will also do "beyond" [cf. v. 16 above] what things I am saying. 22 At the same time (Gr. "hama" BAG, p. 42) also become hospitable toward me (Gr. "hetoimazo xenian" t.t.?; BAG, p. 546), for I hope that through the prayers of you all to be given [by God's grace = divine passive?] to you all.
23 Epaphras, the co-captive of me in Christ Jesus [formula?], wishes to be remembered to you (sing.), 24 [as do] Mark, Aristarchos, Demas, Luke...the co-laborers of me ["in Christ Jesus"?].
25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is [be? invocation genre?] with the spirit of you all [cf. post-25 apparatus]!
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