What does Philemon 1:14 mean?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
KJV: But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.
NKJV: But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.
Verse Commentary:
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.
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 5/18/2024 6:25:46 PM
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