The story of Onesimus is one of an escaped slave who likely stole from his master and then, through divine providence, ended up meeting Paul and trusting in Jesus. He was in an awkward situation where he now needed to make restitution with his master and Paul’s friend, Philemon. So Paul sent this letter to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus to request that the slave be set free. Paul would pay for the damages on Onesimus’ behalf, and his life could now be used for a greater, spiritual purpose. In a gentle, non-forceful way, Paul was challenging Philemon to love God and to do the right thing. The truth is that we cannot force people to do what we think is right. Instead, Paul implored him to think about the situation from a Godly perspective. His full expectation was that Philemon would do what was right – he just needed a reminder of what that was.