My Paraphrase of Philemon
Philemon has been on my mind a lot lately, mainly because in my understanding of it, Paul is saying more than just a few things. First, he is ordering Christians to submit to worldly justice if they have committed worldly crimes. Second, he is injecting himself in a brother’s business by first harboring a slave and then by asking for forgiveness of that slave. Lastly, for now, he is asking Philemon to treat the escaped slave as he would have treated Paul.
I thought I might just try my hand at a pure paraphrase, to get what I hear when I read this letter out.
Christian Obligation to a Secular World
When Paul wrote his short note to his friend, Philemon, I cannot imagine that he expected it to end up canonized (if he expected any of this writings to be canonized) and cherished by Christians for the past many centuries. Most of the time it has been forgotten because as compared to the larger Pauline corpus, it simply lacks of theology. In practical theology, however, those actions by the Christians community regarding everyday life, it abounds in treasures rediscovered every so often.