Welcome back everyone. It has been an exhausting day. I didn’t get much sleep last night so right now I’m fighting to stay awake. However, I didn’t get much sleep because I was actually in a good mood. Odd how that works isn’t it? I do ask for your continued prayers in both areas I’ve asked for in the more confidential one, I believe I am likely to be somewhat of an iconoclast in a certain area but hey, we apologists can enjoy being iconoclasts.
Tonight, we don’t really have a text per se. We do of course, but it’s too long to quote and we’re not looking at one verse but rather the main theme of the whole book. That will be the book of Philemon, a book that’s only a chapter long in the New Testament. It’s the last Pauline epistle. (I do not consider Hebrews to be Pauline.) It is the story of Paul meeting Philemon’s slave Onesimus and getting him converted and sending him back to his master asking him to welcome him back as a brother.
The concept of slavery is interesting in this case however. When we think of slavery, we must not think of slavery that went on in England and America during the period it was practiced here. Slavery was often quite difficult and there were many great slaves such as the philosopher Epictetus and a slave had numerous rights that slaves in the more modern sense did not have. (Though slavery is no longer going on in our countries, any time it is referred to, it will be referred to as modern slavery.)
Paul saw himself as a slave of Christ in contrast to Onesimus being a slave of Philemon. He was the bondservant of Christ who was called to obey his master in all things. In the days of the Roman empire, the behavior of the slave reflected the behavior of the master. If someone was a good slave, it spoke little about the slave and instead spoke of the value of the master. This must be a master that one would willingly love to serve if the slave was a good slave.
Paul saw himself the same way as being a slave of Christ. He was the bondservant meant to be at the beck and call of his master. If Christ says to do something, well it is done. No questions are to be asked. The willingness Paul would obey his master would show the world around him how much he valued his master. It’s also noteworthy that Paul took on the title of slave, meaning he was willing to take on a lowly position in order to illustrate his obedience to Christ.
Paul did this showing Philemon that the position that Onesimus was in to him was to parallel the position that Paul was in to Christ in that Onesimus’s life was to be in Philemon’s hands. Philemon could have had Onesimus put to death for his trespass, and indeed, Christ would be just putting us to death for our trespasses.
This also tells us of course how Paul viewed Christ. Christ was the one Paul had placed his life into the hands of. Christ was the one who Paul was to obey the every command of. Christ was the one Paul was to show the world was his master. In essence, Paul would have had to have a high view of Christ in order to do this.
And could it be, a view that saw Christ as deity?
Why it just might have been.
I look forward to tomorrow when we start the book of Hebrews!