What about Philemon?

This week i am studying the book of Philemon.  It has been quite enjoyable so far, and i find myself unsettled by the common assumption, whether spoken or evidenced in practice, that Philemon is of little or no relevance within the NT or Pauline canon.

So, i want to open this up to my readers with two (related) questions: what “role” does Philemon play within the NT?  Within Pauline thought?

2 responses to “What about Philemon?

  1. Good questions. In the NT, Philemon is a neglected book. It’s obvious connection to Colossians maybe should be considered in connections with questions about the authorship of that book.

    In Paul’s thought, it expresses some convictions that are close to Paul’s heart: Regard him no longer as a slave but as a brother.

    A couple of interpretive questions: In sending Onesimus back to his master, did Paul violate the teaching of the Torah concerning run-away slaves? (Dt 23:15)

    What is Paul’s “unspoken request”? What did he really want Philemon to do when he said, “I know you will do even more than I ask.”

    I suspect there is something in the literature of friendship about friends doing more than asked–but I haven’t tried to trace it down myself. I would look in Cicero’s de amicitia, I think Aristotle also wrote a treatise on friendship, and probably some other philosophers and moralists in the Hellenistic and Roman age.

  2. PS
    I’ve been trying to translate your quote of the day:

    Karolus Longus, tempus brevis.

    Die Zeit ist kurz und der Barth ist schwer.

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