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Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

15 February 2008
  Philemon and Onesimus
15 February, New Testament

Paul and OnesimusPhilemon was a prominent first-century Christian who owned a slave named Onesimus. While the name "Onesimus" means "useful," Onesimus proved himself "useless. (Philemon 11)" He ran away from his master and perhaps even stole from him (v. 18).

Somehow, Onesimus came into contact with the apostle Paul while the latter was in prison (possibly in Rome). Perhaps he knew that Paul and Philemon had a friendship and went to Paul in order to protect himself from harsh treatment should he be returned home. In any event, through Paul's proclamation of the Gospel he became a Christian. After Onesemus confessed to the apostle that he was a runaway slave, Paul directed him to return to his master and become "useful" again, as Paul had already determined him to be (v. 11).

HandsIn order to help pave the way for Onesimus' peaceful return home, Paul sent him on his way with a letter addressed to Philemon, a letter in which he urged Philemon to forgive his slave for having run away and to "receive him as you would receive me (v. 17)" Paul encourged Philemon to think of Onesimus "no longer as a slave ... but as a beloved brother (v. 16)"

The letter was eventually included by the church as one of the books of the New Testament.

Those looking to Scripture for a definitive statement on slavery find mixed messages in this brief epistle. While Paul seems to urge Philemon in the direction of treating Onesimus as a freedman, he certainly leaves open the option that Onesimus might be returning to slavery, albeit in a much-improved situation.

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Comments:
Speaking of being "useful" to our Master, Jesus Christ, you must see this extremely important video!!

Hello!

I would like to invite readers at this blog to please watch the message at the following link. I also hope that you will be motivated to share your comments!


Marriage: The Image of God

Go to the site and click on the arrow on the right of that particular message.

When you view this video, you will see what the illicit sexual battles being faced by the church today are really all about. The fact is, it is not really only a physical battle, but more importantly, an ultimate type of spiritual battle that is transpiring.

Sincerely,
Christine W.
 
could you tell me the source of the picture of Onesimus and Paul? I'm doing my Lenten midweek series on Philemon and would like to use that picture for the bulletin cover next week.
 
The spread of the Christian religion resulted in the abolition of Slavery as a global institution.

The belief that all people have a Divine right to Liberty is powerfully expressed in the words of the American Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

God is not indifferent to the injustice of slavery. His word makes it clear that His intention for Man has always been Liberty:

-God created the first man and woman truly free.

-His Commandments protect an individual's life, reputation, rights, and property.

-The Mosaic Law recognizes the ubiquitous and permanent nature of the "peculiar institution" and legislates to ameliorate its effects.

-The New Testament urges respect and dignity among fellow Christians, reminding the enslaved believer that he is truly free and the free believer that he is Christ's slave.

-Believers are to be content in whatever their circumstances at the time of their conversion (even if in slavery, for the goal of the Christian life is to bear witness to the Son of God; millions of slaves in armed rebellion would have done little to promote the Gospel).

-Believers are urged to gain their freedom, if possible.

-And though speaking of the greater freedom from sin, death, and the devil, we are told, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."

Those who seek to justify slavery from the Biblical texts must misrepresent them to do so.
 
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