8 So, although I have quite a lot of confidence in Christ and could command you to do what is proper, 9I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—I, Paul, an old man and even now a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus— 10I am appealing to you concerning my child, whose spiritual father I have become during my imprisonment, that is, Onesimus, 11 who was formerly useless to you, but is now useful to you and me. 12 I have sent him (who is my very heart) back to you. 13 I wanted to keep him with me so that he could serve me in your place during my imprisonment for the sake of the gospel. 14However, without your consent I did not want to do anything so that your good deed would not be out of compulsion, but from your own willingness.15 For perhaps it was for this reason that he was separated from you for a little while so that you would have him back eternally, 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, as a dear brother. He is especially so to me, and even more so to you now, both humanly speaking and in the Lord. 17Therefore if you regard me as a partner, accept him as you would me.18 Now if he has defrauded you of anything or owes you anything, charge what he owes to me. 19 I, Paul, have written this letter with my own hand: I will repay it. I could also mention that you owe me your very self. 20 Yes, brother, let me have some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Since I was confident that you would obey, I wrote to you because I knew that you would do even more than what I am asking you to do. 22 At the same time also, prepare a place for me to stay, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given back to you.
Date: 55-63 C.E. (based on scholarly estimates)
Pliny Letter to Sabinianus 9
Your freedman, whom you lately mentioned to me with displeasure, has been with me, and threw himself at my feet with as much submission as he could have fallen at yours. He earnestly requested me with many tears, and even with all the eloquence of silent sorrow, to intercede for him; in short, he convinced me by his whole behaviour that he sincerely repents of his fault. I am persuaded he is thoroughly reformed, because he seems deeply sensible of his guilt. I know you are angry with him, and I know, too, it is not without reason; but clemency can never exert itself more laudably than when there is the most cause for resentment. You once had an affection for this man, and, I hope, will have again; meanwhile, let me only prevail with you to pardon him. If he should incur your displeasure hereafter, you will have so much the stronger plea in excuse for your anger as you shew yourself more merciful to him now. Concede something to his youth, to his tears, and to your own natural mildness of temper: do not make him uneasy any longer, and I will add, too, do not make yourself so; for a man of your kindness of heart cannot be angry without feeling great uneasiness. I am afraid, were I to join my entreaties with his, I should seem rather to compel than request you to forgive him. Yet I will not scruple even to write mine with his; and in so much the stronger terms as I have very sharply and severely reproved him, positively threatening never to interpose again in his behalf. But though it was proper to say this to him, in order to make him more fearful of offending, I do not say so to you. I may perhaps, again have occasion to entreat you upon his account, and again obtain your forgiveness; supposing, I mean, his fault should be such as may become me to intercede for, and you to pardon. Farewell.