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I thought it was very well done. I think one area that is not plumbed as deeply as it could have been is the aspect of the reciprocity owed by Philemon to Christ, and therefore to Paul for bringing the message and salvation of Christ to his household. The favor/xaris Philemon received obligated his response to Paul’s request on behalf of Christ, leaving Philemon in a subordinate position but fulfilling his part of the bargain within his ability to repay. The faith thus exercised would both show his gratitude for the favor, and help pay it forward, so to speak on behalf of the Useful slave, helping Philemon himself to act as a slave/doulos to Christ. After all, Paul routinely referred to himself by the same designation, and encouraged others to likewise fulfill their obligation for the favor they had received from Christ.
I learned a lot, so thank you.
I had been aware of the artifice Paul employed in creating the letter in a chiastic structure, and employing the name of Onesimus and its meaning as part of that structure, but this analysis is remarkable. I wonder if we need to have more respect for the acuteness of Paul’s intellect. In particular, the theory that Paul lacked the sophistication to have written the Epistle to the Hebrews sounds even more questionable to me now.
wonderful and thought provoking article, however, I see a much deeper underlying theology at play in addition to the apparent word play and punning.
Is it possible that the meaning behind philemons name and that which Paul characterizes as being owed to him is simply manifesting itself as a result of a preexistent related cosmic consciousness ?
Is it possible that Paul is owed his request because God had ordained and predetermined it before the world was created ?perhaps that is why God inspired the naming of Philemon?
Paul speaks of predestination more than once and Joseph saw no need to replace the word in the inspired version
Never will I read Philemon the same. Now I can appreciate this little letter. I will print this out and stick it in my Bible, so as to remember. Thank you!
Paul proves to be the very well educated Jew of his time. Shalom!
Todah rabah, Steven! 🙂 I am grateful for your kind words and I’m glad you enjoyed it.
This one will take some work getting through. My head started hurting after reading the introduction. Hope it’s good.
I hope it’s good too! 🙂