Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ...(Philemon 1)
I have noticed that several of the commentaries try to change this and explain it away by teaching that Paul really meant that he was a prisoner because he was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. But that is not what Paul said, and he had the ability of saying exactly what he had in mind. He was using the Greek language, which is a very flexible, versatile language. He said he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
If we had been there, we might have had a conversation with Paul like this:
"Poor Paul, it's too bad these Romans put you in jail."
"They didn't put me in jail."
"Oh, we know what you mean. Those hateful religious rulers brought a charge against you."
"They didn't put me in jail, either."
"Who did, then?"
"Jesus Christ. I'm His prisoner."
"You mean to tell me that you would serve someone who put you in prison?"
"Yes, when it's His will for me to be in prison, I'm in prison. When it's His will for me to be out of prison, I'll be out of prison. When it's His will for me to be sick, I'm going to be sick. I belong to Him. And since I belong to Him, I have learned to be content in whatsoever state I am in."
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philemon 3)
—From J. Vernon McGee's Edited Messages on Philemon ©1983