Did you know that thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul the Apostle? He was a prolific writer of some of our favourite letters but how many of us have taken a deeper look at the book of Philemon? Consisting of only 335 words in the Greek text, this prison letter, co-authored by Paul and Timothy, was written to Philemon, a leader in the Colossian church and a wealthy Christian, possibly a bishop of the house church that met in his home.
This Sunday, Pastor Josh Mutter is beginning a new message series on the book of Philemon. While brief in length, this letter deals with a couple of difficult issues which continue to challenge us.
Sarah Ruden, in her Paul Among the People (2010), argues that in the letter to Philemon, Paul created the Western concept of the individual human being, “unconditionally precious to God and therefore entitled to the consideration of other human beings.” Before Paul, Ruden argues, a slave was considered subhuman, and entitled to no more consideration than an animal.
The principal challenge of Philemon is to embody the truth of the new family that God is creating through Jesus: that all who follow Jesus are sisters and brothers first and foremost, whatever their roles given to them by society.
In preparation for this new message series, we encourage everybody to watch this great overview video which helps us understand the context of the book of Philemon.