Onesimus is dear to Paul. He would love for him to remain as a companion and helper while in prison, but he knows his rightful place is with his owner. Paul passively suggests Philemon return him to Paul as a favor (the power of suggestion).
Notice Paul doesn’t organize a rally against slavery or make speeches on the corner. Rather, he challenges a fellow believer to go against the cultural norm and see this slave as a brother. Often our greatest power against social wrongs is not a Facebook post but rather the ability we have to influence those we love. Paul sees Christianity as reaching beyond social institutions and urges his brother in Christ to see it as well.
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