What does Philemon 1:12 mean?
ESV: I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.
NIV: I am sending him--who is my very heart--back to you.
NASB: I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart,
CSB: I am sending him back to you--I am sending my very own heart.
NLT: I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.
KJV: Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:
NKJV: I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart,
Verse Commentary:
Verse 12 continues Paul's description of his relationship to Onesimus. First, he says that he is sending Onesimus back to Philemon. This was a major risk for Onesimus, since a runaway slave could be punished with death. Therefore, Paul wanted to emphasize that the return was something he had arranged personally.

Second, Paul indicates that he and Onesimus had become very close in a short amount of time. He describes Onesimus as a part of himself, as his "very heart." Paul had led him to faith in Christ, becoming his spiritual father (Philemon 1:10). Onesimus had been so helpful to Paul that he wanted to keep him in Rome to assist him while imprisoned (Philemon 1:13).

Philemon had refreshed the hearts of the saints (Philemon 1:7), and Paul would later ask him to "refresh my heart in Christ" (Philemon 1:20). Paul uses the same term for "heart" to express his great love for Onesimus. Again, this is Paul pleading with Philemon to choose forgiveness for the runaway slave, rather than having it commanded to him.
Verse Context:
Philemon 1:8–16 is Paul’s plea to Philemon that he would forgive and free the runaway slave Onesimus. Onesimus seems to have known Paul from his visits to Colossae, then encountered him in Rome after running away. After becoming a Christian, he returns to Philemon with this letter from Paul. Paul reminds Philemon that the three of them, including Onesimus, are brothers, and should be treated the same way.
Chapter Summary:
Philemon is a letter from Paul, regarding a runaway slave named Onesimus. Paul respectfully requests that Philemon forgive his runaway slave, free him, and allow him to serve Christ without restrictions. Philemon was a prominent figure in the church of Colossae. Paul goes so far as to ask Philemon to charge any debts owed by Onesimus to Paul himself.
Chapter Context:
Philemon is short enough that it only contains a single chapter. Because Paul knows Philemon personally, and has only positive things to say about him, there is no need for a lengthy discussion. Paul appeals to Philemon to forgive and release his runaway slave, Onesimus. Onesimus, a convert to Christianity, seems be the one sent to deliver this letter to his former master.
Book Summary:
Philemon is one of the shorter books in the Bible, but it contains some important information. The Christian concept of slavery cannot be understood without a proper review of this letter. Paul recognizes the facts of slavery in his era, and does not command Philemon to release Onesimus. However, he does appeal to the unity we share in Christ as a reason for Philemon to set this man free.
Accessed 5/20/2024 8:41:04 PM
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