This article analyzes Paul’s letter to Philemon through the lens of friendship rhetoric—based on Aristotle’s prescriptions in books 8 and 9 of Nicomachean Ethics—while paying close attention to the letter’s literary structure in order to sift through possible interpretive applications that inform the meaning of the letter. Paul invokes brotherly κοινωνία and expresses mutual beneficence in a manner that acknowledges God’s redemptive work and gives Philemon an opportunity to act willingly out of goodwill. What Paul receives from Philemon—joy, encouragement, and refreshment—as a result of Philemon’s “heart” for believers, Paul reciprocates with his “heart.” Paul does not write based on need or for personal gain but with an attitude of humility with the purpose of unifying brothers who are coworkers in the gospel.

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