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If Onesimus was already free because he escaped, why did Paul bother to write Philemon?

Presumably, Paul wanted Onesimus to honor Philemon by going back to him. In exchange, Paul wanted Philemon to free Onesimus. If Philemon did that, then he could have Onesimus “no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother,” according to Christian belief. (NRSV, Philemon 1:16)



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