Monday, October 06, 2008

Philemon and Theology

Barth and Blanke write in their ECC Philemon commentary:

"According to Paul’s best-known letters, every person, whether Jew or Gentile, needs forgiveness of sins, salvation by Christ’s blood rather than self-salvation by the misunderstood and misused law of God, and redemption from eternal death. For everyone the spiritual freedom has immediate consequences in the social setting of his or her own life. But Philem 16 makes it explicit that salvation and redemption, freedom and equality are divine gifts far too precious to be left to the handling of even so good a Christian and so legal a slave owner as Philemon. When this man receives and treats Onesimus as a brother he receives, according to verse 17, a person ‘sent back’ (v. 12) by Paul who is to be received the same way as the apostle hopes to be received. Not only brother Paul but also brother Onesimus will have to show and tell brother Philemon a few things relevant to faith and life, and the latter will have to listen to and follow good advice and proposals. if this be applied to twentieth-century conditions, it means that professional philosophers and social scientists, pastors and theology professors, politicians and industrial managers, trade unionists and revolutionaries have no monopoly on representing and proclaiming a social order that would deserve to be called free and just and peaceful."

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