Philemon 1:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Philemon 1:14, NIV: But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary.

Philemon 1:14, ESV: but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.

Philemon 1:14, KJV: But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.

Philemon 1:14, NASB: but I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion, but of your own free will.

Philemon 1:14, NLT: 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.

Philemon 1:14, CSB: But I didn't want to do anything without your consent, so that your good deed might not be out of obligation, but of your own free will.

What does Philemon 1:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul once again makes a request to Philemon, rather than giving him a command. Onesimus, Philemon's runaway slave, was helping Paul, and Paul would have liked him to stay (Philemon 1:13). And yet, Paul chooses to follow proper legal procedures, to help Onesimus gain forgiveness and legitimate freedom. In addition, Paul has Philemon's well-being in mind. He offers Philemon an opportunity to respond favorably to Paul's request, which would allow him to "save face," or keep his dignity, while also granting help to his runaway slave.

The "goodness" Paul associates with Philemon uses the same Greek word translated "good thing" in verse 6. Philemon had received "every good thing," and Paul was asking him to show this goodness to Onesimus. This goodness was not forced, or commanded, but voluntary. The Greek word translated "free will," or "accord," is ekousiov, meaning a willingness.