The Fellowship of Faith (Pt. 2)
Passage: Philemon 1:7–25
New Testament Slavery Texts: Colossians 3:22-4:1; 1 Timothy 6:1; 1 Peter 2:18-23; Titus 2: 9-10; Ephesians 6:6-9.
Slavery in the First Century
- Racial factors played no role.
- Many slaves could reasonably expect to be manumitted during their lifetime.
- Many slaves worked in a variety of specialized and responsible positions.
- Many slaves received education and training in specialist skills.
- Freed slaves often became Roman citizens and developed a client relationship to their former masters.
- Slaves possessed few legal rights, lacked honour, were subject to whatever punishment their masters deemed appropriate (and were sometimes treated with cruelty), were permitted no legally sanctioned marriage or family bond, could not keep their own children born to them while in slavery, could be separated from their spouses by the slave master, and were not allowed to own property of any kind.
It is in this context the writers of the New Testament cast a vision for how Christian slaves and Christian slave owners should live out their lives within the constraints of this prevailing social and economic system.
- Philemon’s fellowship with Onesimus is to be motivated by love, not an apostolic command (8-14)
- The providence of God (15-16)
- “Welcome Onesimus” (17-25)
*I received invaluable assistance on the topic of slavery from D.A. Carson’ “Love in Hard Places.”
More in Philemon
September 17, 2023The Fellowship of Faith (Pt.1)