What does Philemon 1:18 mean?
ESV: If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.
NIV: If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.
NASB: But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account;
CSB: And if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.
NLT: If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me.
KJV: If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put that on mine account;
NKJV: But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.
Verse Commentary:
This verse continues Paul's request of Philemon to treat Onesimus like he would treat Paul. The phrase "has wronged you…or owes you…" offers two key insights. First, Onesimus had likely "wronged" Philemon. He had run away, a serious crime for a bondservant in Roman society. Second, Onesimus likely "owed" Philemon. This may refer to work lost during his absence, or even that Onesimus had stolen from his master when he left, though this is uncertain. Certainly, many entered slavery as a way to pay off debts, another way in which Onesimus might be obligated to Philemon.

And yet, Paul tells Philemon to "charge that to [his] account." Paul personally committed to paying for the debt of Onesimus. As with verse 17, this commitment strengthens the case that Paul wanted Onesimus to be freed. He was even willing to pay the debt for his crimes, to help Onesimus escape slavery. Paul's suggestion was much like the modern day "tab" which needs to be paid at a later date. This was a common practice in that time period.
Verse Context:
Philemon 1:17–22 continues Paul’s request that Philemon free his runaway slave, Onesimus. Paul goes so far as to ask Philemon to treat Onesimus exactly as he would Paul himself. And, Paul pledges to repay any debts which Onesimus now owes to Philemon. Paul seems confident that Philemon will grant his request, and asks him make a room ready in anticipation of his release from imprisonment.
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 6/22/2024 5:17:40 PM
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