1. Standard membersonship
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    In the New Testament there is one small but weighty epistle dealing entirely with the subject matter of an ancient runaway slave who became a Christian disciple.

    A slave ran away from a Christian master. He meets Paul. Paul leds the man to Christ. Paul had also previously led the master to Christ.

    I would like to discuss the nuances of this letter the Apostle Paul wrote back to the master Philemon SENDING it with the runaway slave, for him to return to the master's house.

    Anyone serious is welcomed to examine with me. Please read the New Testament book of only 25 verses - Philemon.

    It is before Hebrews and after Titus.

    All the T books are together - Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus ...
  2. SubscriberFMF
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    20 Jan '13 15:08
    Does this mean you're dodging the question of Philemon raised on the other thread or are you going to start by addressing that question?
  3. Standard membersonship
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    Originally posted by FMF
    Does this mean you're dodging the question of Philemon raised on the other thread or are you going to start by addressing that question?
    I have not dodged any question.

    To my recollection I answered questions you put to me.
    Now maybe you didn't get the Binary 1 or 0, yes or no you wanted.
    Maybe you got a little more explanatory comment than serves your purpose.
    But you'll just have to take your answer as I gave it.

    I guess you may have to go back and tell Sam Harris he had no slam dunk criticism there against Christians and the New Testament as regards to slavery.
  4. SubscriberFMF
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    20 Jan '13 15:48
    Originally posted by sonship
    I have not dodged any question.

    To my recollection I answered questions you put to me.
    I asked if Philemon 10-17 and 1 Peter 2:18-20, as offered as "evidence" by robbie, are proof that the right of Christians to own slaves is a God given one. You pretended that I had offered those citations, and asked ME to argue their corner [rather like sending the electricity cheque to the gas people, and sending the gas cheque to the electricity people] and I pointed out that robbie had offered them, not me, and you fell silent. You reckon you "answered"? Gosh. Really? Why not copy and paste your "answer" here? I am sure others will forgive the duplication.
  5. SubscriberFMF
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    20 Jan '13 15:561 edit
    Originally posted by sonship
    But you'll just have to take your answer as I gave it.
    What "answer"? You went silent.

    Top of page 16 Thread 150826.
  6. Standard membermenace71
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    Paul tries to argue for the slave's freedom to Philemon as a fellow brother in Christ. Paul may have recognized Philemon's right to own a slave but this does not in and of its self mean that Paul condoned slavery or that God condoned it.




    Manny
  7. Standard membermenace71
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    We recognize many evils in the world that does not mean we condone them.


    Manny
  8. Standard membersonship
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    I'd like to start by emphasizing two passages in Philemon - the last verse 25 and verse 7.

    Verse 7 - For I had much joy and encouragement over your love, because the inward parts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother."

    Verse 25 - "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you spirit"

    These may seem insignificant but they are very meaningful to the Christian life and to the subject at hand.

    The NT ever goes deeper than simply what is legally proper or allowable.
    It goes deeper than the outward action to the innermost peace with God.
    Christ the Lord has come to be one spirit with the believer - "He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17)

    The Christian must be regulated by something most inward in his inner being. The sense of life and peace is an indicator to how well aligned he is to God's will -

    "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8:6)

    The standard of the Christian's behavior must be what supplied him "life and peace" within. When the Holy Spirit is happy he feels happy within. When the Holy Spirit is grieved within the Christian feels this grieving and uneasiness.

    Ephesians 4:30 - "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whoim you were sealed unto the day of redemption."

    What makes the Holy Spirit happiest within is an indicator of God's pleasure.
    What refreshes the inward parts of the saints (Christians) is a governing principle.

    Christ has come to live within the believer. The LIVING GOD is imparted into the kernel of the believer's spiritual being. The living Jesus indwells the believer. And Paul often gives his closing word of reminder of this vital fact, ie

    Paul's last word in Philemon - "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" . See also Galatian 6:18; Philippians 4:25

    Check your innermost being Christian. Check your deepest spirit.
    In your innermost spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
    Is your spirit happy? Is your spirit uneasy? If there is some lack of peace in your innermost spirit, this is an indication that something is amiss between you and God.

    What is outwadly OK according to Roman law is too superficial for the disciple of Christ. He has to consider the indications of life and peace in his innermost spirit.

    In this letter of Philemon, I will show that Paul's conscern is primarily God's governing. His concern is not primarily human government or what the Roman law will permit or allow.

    Paul is not here a social reformer. He is a church builder. His aims are furthuring the kingdom of God. His aim is not patching up with bandaids the Roman society so the world will be a better place.

    He is an apostle of Christ establishing these supernatural communities called churches. And what Paul emphaizes is the Kingship of Christ within. The regulating of the Holy Spirit, the refreshment of the innermost being of the disciples, that which brings the greatest inner joy is Paul's priority.

    Concerning society the Christian is to give forethought to what is honorable.

    Romans 12:17 - " ... take forethought for things honorable in the sight of all men."

    Towards society the believer should give thought to what is honorable.

    But he is governed by something much deeper than this.
    He is governed by the grace of Christ which is with his spirit.
    What arbitrates his conduct is the indwelling Christ, the Holy Spirit -

    "And let the peace of Christ arbitrate in your hearts, to which also you were called in one Body ..." (Col. 3:15)

    The Arbitrator of conduct to the Christians is the Agape LOVE between the believers, the Agape LOVE toward man and "the peace of Christ" reigning in his heart.
  9. Standard membersonship
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    21 Jan '13 15:09
    Slavery was legal in Rome at this time.

    Paul's whole attitude in Philemon not social reform. He does not write Philemon -

    "Philemon. I heard you have slaves! As an apostle to the churches I hearby demand that you release all your slaves immediately. Then Rome will be a better society !"

    This letter is not on that level. This attitude does not reflect Paul's priorities at all.

    What Paul does minister in his letter is not superficial. It goes way beyond the outward conduct to callibrate the audience to what is really God's highest happiness in the matter. It is fine. It is very subjective.

    I'll examine this spiritual lasar surgery Paul performs on this Christian slave master. He sends the letter by the runaway slave. Of course this was totally a matter of trust. Onisemus could have said "I don't think so" and skipped town altogether.

    The Apostle Paul writes this letter and sends it back with a trusting and voluntary man. Paul has confidence that what he writes will build up the church and further the kingdom of God on the earth.

    We'll look into this more.
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    21 Jan '13 17:011 edit
    Originally posted by sonship
    Slavery was legal in Rome at this time.

    Paul's whole attitude in [b]Philemon
    not social reform. He does not write Philemon -

    "Philemon. I heard you have slaves! As an apostle to the churches I hearby demand that you release all your slaves immediately. Then Rome will be a better society !"

    This letter is not on that level. This attitude do the church and further the kingdom of God on the earth.

    We'll look into this more.[/b]
    "What Paul does minister in his letter is not superficial. It goes way beyond the outward conduct to callibrate the audience to what is really God's highest happiness in the matter. It is fine. It is very subjective. "

    So you think enslavement of humans is a superficial thing, and you believe that working toward its abolition does not contribute one whit to God's highest happiness in the matter?

    When you look into it more, please look into this part.
  11. Hmmm . . .
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    Originally posted by sonship
    Slavery was legal in Rome at this time.

    Paul's whole attitude in [b]Philemon
    not social reform. He does not write Philemon -

    "Philemon. I heard you have slaves! As an apostle to the churches I hearby demand that you release all your slaves immediately. Then Rome will be a better society !"

    This letter is not on that level. This attitude do the church and further the kingdom of God on the earth.

    We'll look into this more.[/b]
    Though there is clearly (at least on one level) a “law versus ethics” argument here (the “ethics of agape” )—which Paul alludes to in verses 8 and 9, you might want to address the fact that, although Paul alludes to Philemon’s duty, Paul himself has an obligation (mitzvah: commandment, requirement, obligation) under Torah to not return a runaway slave Deuteronomy 23:15 & 16). In verse 12, it says that Paul is “sending him back”—not “asking him to return”.

    On the one hand, it seems clear (or is at least heavily implied) that Paul thinks that Philemon has a duty—aside from the ethics of agape—to set Onesimus free; whence that duty?

    On the other hand, Paul does not mention at all the duty that he himself would have had under Torah. Is the commandment tonot return a runaway slave somehow abrogated under the gospel? Or does Paul think that his chances of winning an appeal to the ethic of agape in this case take precedent over the Torah proscription of not returning the slave? Or . . .?

    —As you mention, Roman law (like the Torah) permits slavery; it also would seem to require the return of an escaped slave (which Torah prohibits). So there seem to be at least three aspects at play here: Roman law, Torah obligations, and ethical obligations—all perhaps in some kind of dialectical tension.*

    Not trying to derail your planned presentation here: only questions that occurred to me, and that I thought you might consider.

    _________________________________________________

    * There is an analogous dialectic in the Oral Torah (e.g., the Talmud), which the rabbis seem to argue from different angles, but which so far seems too shallow to be satisfactory (which I am still researching). There is in the Oral Torah precedent for requiring the abrogation of commandments (mitzvot) and laws (halakhot) to fulfill an ethical requirement—most notably, saving a life, which can be fairly broadly construed (but, again, I am still researching; though my own argument would likely be based on both that construal and upon Hillel, and what I see as the moral abhorrence of slavery per se).
  12. Standard membersonship
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    So you think enslavement of humans is a superficial thing,

    Only in comparison to enslavement to Satan and his kingdom, was the slavery comparatively less serious.

    He needs freeing within and without.

    Paul as an apostle is out to release men from slavery to Satan's kingdom.
    He was occupied with Onesimus and Philemon both being deeply freed into the kingdom of Christ.

    1.) Philemon, he addresses as "our beloved and fellow worker" .
    This means he approaches him not mainly as a secular man or employer or slave master. Rather he is to Paul a fellow - co-worker of the apostles of God.

    By addressing Philemon this way he REMINDS Philemon of God's priorities. The chief matter here is not Philemon's worldly economic benefits. What is at stake here is not Philemon's material prosperity but his service to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Verse 1 is a callibrating of the slave master to his truer occupation - not just looking out for his wordly bank account but his standing with the fellow servants of God and Christ Himself -

    "Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy the brother, to Philemon our beloved and fellow worker ..."

    2.) Further Paul reminds the slave master Christian of his reputation, not as a rich land owner with servants, but of his Christian love to "ALL the saints".

    "Hearing of your love and the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and to all the saints ..." (v.5)

    IE. "Philemon, I hear that your faith in Christ and love toward ALL the Christian brothers and sisters is of note. This is a noble and righteous reputation you have among the believers."

    The Apostle is callibrating Philemon's attention to his reputation among the disciples and apostles. It is not his worldly renown as a slave owning rich person which is important. His standing towards the Christian churches is what is important.

    3.) In the past the believers have been encouraged and refreshed in their spirit through Philemon's upright Christian living. The implication is that Paul hopes he will not NOW let them down. He expects Philemon will not revert to a selfish money grubbing, grumbling oppressive slave master, incensed at his economic misfortune at losing a slave.

    "For I had much joy and encouragement over your love, because the inward parts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother." (v.7)

    Paul continues his laser surgery on this case:

    4.) Paul reminds Philemon that he [Paul] does have the position to CHARGE him with authority to do something. (As long as he is a co-worker) Paul has the position to DIRECT the man what he should do. But he would not. Rather than stand on his spiritual authority as a parent like aged apostle over Philemon, he would "entreat" him kindly.

    "Therefore though I have much boldness in Christ to charge you what is fitting, Because of love I rather entreat, being such a one as Paul the aged and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus." (v.9)

    Many of you reading will take this verse for granted. Here is a man who has risked his life for your spiritual benefit. He is a prisoner in a Roman prison. WHY? Because of his risking his life for your spiritual well-being.

    Paul reminds Philemon that Philemon owes him his life!

    "I, Paul, have written with my own hand: I will repay; not to say to you that you owe me even your own self besides." (v.19)

    Pauls gospel preaching may have saved Philemon from alchoholism or suicide or depression or a tragically failed marriage, or worse. We do not know. But we can assume that this slave master experienced tremendous personal blessing from knowing the apostle. And that to the point that Paul could remind him that he [Philemon] owed his life to Paul's ministry.


    Paul knows that Philemon has been very blessed in every way from knowing Paul personally. He has been a caring spiritual parent of Philemon. Yet he would entreat him and not authoritatively charge him.

    Paul entreats the slave master and says in essence - Treat this man as you would treat me. If he owes you anything, charge it to ME.

    "If he has wronged you in anything or owes [anything], charge that to my account. I, Paul, have written with my own hand: I will repay; not to say that you owe me even your own self besides." (v.19)

    More on Paul's laser surgery of this tough slave / slave master / Christian brother case below.
  13. Standard membersonship
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    21 Jan '13 20:50
    Though there is clearly (at least on one level) a “law versus ethics” argument here (the “ethics of agape” )—which Paul alludes to in verses 8 and 9, you might want to address the fact that, although Paul alludes to Philemon’s duty, Paul himself has an obligation (mitzvah: commandment, requirement, obligation) under Torah to not return a runaway slave Deuteronomy 23:15 & 16). In verse 12, it says that Paul is “sending him back”—not “asking him to return”.


    Interesting visted. I'm reading.
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    21 Jan '13 21:01
    Originally posted by sonship
    So you think enslavement of humans is a superficial thing,

    Only in comparison to enslavement to Satan and his kingdom, was the slavery comparatively less serious.

    He needs freeing within and without.

    Paul as an apostle is out to release men from slavery to Satan's kingdom.
    He was occupied with Onesimus and Philemon both bein ...[text shortened]... y of this tough slave / slave master / Christian brother case below.
    JS: So you think enslavement of humans is a superficial thing,


    "Only in comparison to enslavement to Satan and his kingdom, was the slavery comparatively less serious."

    OK, pretty OK. We should not let the perfect (abolition) drive out the good (seeking improvement of attitude and treatment).

    But... it comes close to being troubling to me if it is essential to understanding the situation.

    Thinking of the evil to be avoided as infinite, or conversely, thinking of the good to be embraced through Christ as infinite, has at times fed the zeal of those who have sought to bring souls to Christ in ways that allowed or even commanded them to do such things as burning at the stake. It makes me cringe a little to see that.
  15. Standard membersonship
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    On the other hand, Paul does not mention at all the duty that he himself would have had under Torah. Is the commandment tonot return a runaway slave somehow abrogated under the gospel? Or does Paul think that his chances of winning an appeal to the ethic of agape in this case take precedent over the Torah proscription of not returning the slave? Or . . .?

    —As you mention, Roman law (like the Torah) permits slavery; it also would seem to require the return of an escaped slave (which Torah prohibits). So there seem to be at least three aspects at play here: Roman law, Torah obligations, and ethical obligations—all perhaps in some kind of dialectical tension.*

    Not trying to derail your planned presentation here: only questions that occurred to me, and that I thought you might consider.


    We have the kingdom of God - the church life and the churching people.
    We have Roman law. Paul's attitude towards his backround as a Pharisee obligated to Torah is something I'll think on.

    I think you comment is not a derailment. I think it is constructive. But you'll find me callibrating my analysis of the letter more towards Paul's experience as one indwelt with by the Spirit of Christ for the building up of the new covenant communities.

    This slave somehow became a believer. In fact he not only becomes a Christian but he is elevated to be a colleague of the Apostle Paul.

    This is no small thing. This slave Philemon has been lifted up several degrees of dignity. He has gone from slave to saved. But more so he have become a fellow-worker with the God ordained, God sent apostle of Christ.

    In this regard Paul has caused Onesimus to realize his high status in God's eyes. It is a status just like that of his slave master Philemon. The three of them are not co-workers for the kingdom of God.

    1.) From slave to saved - " ... you have him forever, no longer as a slave, but above a slave, a beloved brother ..." (v.15b,16)

    Paul is sending Onesimus back "above a slave". He returns to Philemon as "a beloved [Christian] brother" .

    2.) Moreover Oneimus better receive good treatment because he has become "useful" to the apostle Paul. This means he has entered into coordination in the Gospel labor for the advancement of the kingdom of God, which is ALL Paul lived for.

    " ... I have begotten in my bonds, Onesimus, who formerly was useless to you but now is useful both to you and to me." (v.10b,11)

    The Apostle Paul is heaping up coals of fire on the conscience of Philemon. "The THREE of us are now fellow workers to this great work of advancing the Gospel of Christ. Onesimus who was your worldly slave, became useless to you because he ran away.

    Now, having become a Christian brother and my partner, he is among us as an EQUAL. He is useful to me as an apostle. He is useful to you as a co-laborer with an apostle. He is no longer useless. He is useful to us in the highest sense as working with us for the kingdom of God. "

    When Paul sends Omenimus back to Philemon he sends Philemon his own heart. Philemon better take heed as to how he treats this new Christian brother / useful fellow laborer.

    "Him I have sent back to you - him, that is, my very heart - " (v.12)

    To add to the fine laser cutting out of the tumor of worldly economic greed and oppression, Paul says the he EXPECTS Philemon not just to do what Paul wants. He expects Philemon under the headship of Jesus Christ , to do even BEYOND what Paul recommends !!

    " Having confidence in your obedience, I have written to you, knowing that you will do even beyond the things that I say." (v.21)

    "You won't just do what I say to do. Of course, you have Jesus within you. He is your Lord. I know you'll do even BEYOND my mere instructions. You'll do exactly as the Lord Jesus within you will direct you."
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