Philemon 1:13 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Philemon 1:13, NIV: I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel.

Philemon 1:13, ESV: I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel,

Philemon 1:13, KJV: Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:

Philemon 1:13, NASB: whom I wanted to keep with me, so that in your behalf he might be at my service in my imprisonment for the gospel;

Philemon 1:13, NLT: 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.

Philemon 1:13, CSB: I wanted to keep him with me, so that in my imprisonment for the gospel he might serve me in your place.

What does Philemon 1:13 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The opening phrase of this verse reveals important information about the context of this letter. Onesimus was with Paul in Rome, during Paul's house arrest, and was of value to him. The second phrase in this verse explains why: so he could help Paul in some of the ways Philemon had. Onesimus had been a runaway slave, but was now voluntarily serving Paul's needs.

Paul is once again imprisoned for the gospel, something he endured often for his missionary work. Paul is writing to Philemon under house arrest, waiting to appeal his court case to Emperor Caesar. The Bible does not say whether or not this appeal ever took place. According to Roman law, a person would be released if accusers did not appear within two years. This may have been Paul's case (Acts 28:30–31). This partly explains the suggestion in verse 22 that Paul may soon visit Philemon in Colossae. Paul's activity after this house arrest is partly described in the letters 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus.