Paul would have liked to keep Onesimus, for he loved the young man. Also Onesimus made things easier and more comfortable for
Paul. Yet according to the law the runaway slave still belonged to Philemon. In those days many people owned slaves just as people
today own animals.
Onesimus would never feel right until he had
made things right with Philemon. So he decided to go back.
Paul hated to see Onesimus leave. To make sure that Philemon would treat his runaway slave kindly, Paul sent a letter with Onesimus
for his master.
In the letter Paul wrote, "I appeal to you for Onesimus who has been like a son to me while I am in prison. I have sent him back
for you to receive as your own. I would have liked to keep him, but I could not do that. Receive him not as a servant but as a brother.
Treat him as you would treat me. If he has wronged you or owes you anything, charge it to me and I will repay it."
Then Paul added, "Get a room ready for me. I trust through your prayers that I shall be able to come to see you." After sending
special greetings to the Christians who met at Philemon's house, Paul closed his letter with this prayer, "The grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."
Paul's letter to Philemon is in our Bibles. Probably when Onesimus took this letter to his master, he also carried a letter to the church at Colosse. This letter, called
Colossians, is in our Bible.
We do not have an accurate record of the rest of Paul's life.
From some of his letters, it is believed that he was pardoned after
spending two years as a prisoner in Rome. For the next few years he
went from one place to another preaching the gospel.
Paul left Timothy in charge of the churches around Ephesus. It is thought that Paul may have gone from Ephesus to
Macedonia and even Spain. When he visited the island of Crete, he left Titus to
care for the Christians there.
How Paul loved the Christians! With all his heart he wanted them to be true to their faith in Jesus Christ. To help them be true he
wrote them letters of encouragement and advice.
After a few years, perhaps three or four, Emperor Nero, of Rome, began a great persecution against the Christians. Paul was again
arrested, and this time he was killed.
While still in prison Paul wrote Timothy that he would soon meet his death. But he did not seem discouraged. "I have fought a
good fight," he said. "I have finished the race the Lord gave me to
run. I have kept the faith. Soon the Lord will give me the crown of
righteousness that is waiting me in heaven."
So Paul, the mighty
soldier of the cross, went to be with his Lord.