Re: Philemon 14

From: Carlton Winbery (
Date: Fri Jun 05 1998 - 05:57:38 EDT

Edward Hobbs (spelled correctly) wrote;

>Edgar Foster asked about Philemon 14.
>As John Knox taught all of us, Philemon is filled with deliberately
>ambiguous terms, for the purpose of saying both less and more.
>GNWMH is one of them.
>On the face of things, Paul asks the slave-owner (probably Archippus, not
>Philemon, Knox argues) to receive his slave Onesimus back without penalty.
>But he makes clear that he would really like to have Onesimus stay with
>himself, and join in Paul's ministry (when he gets out of jail!), and
>this (outrageous, expensive) wish is his real purpose in writing--to get
>Onesimus set free. So while Paul is saying that he is doing something
>quite easy to grant, he is (by use of ambiguities) asking much more.
>Many of the ambiguous words are legal terms. Is Paul sending Onesimus back
>to Archippus, or sending the case up (to a higher court judge)? He wants
>to do nothing without the owner's consent -- or is it his legal judgment
>in the case? Does he suggest the owner will have him back forever,
>or give a receipt (freedom-papers) for him forever? Etc., etc.
>I've written on this before; I urge Edgar (and everyone!) to read Knox's
>beautiful little book (_Philemon Among the Letters of Paul_). Carleton
>Winbery loves this book also, I know.
>It has always seemed to me that Archippus is probably the military judge
>for the area; but that is only a guess, based on the terminology in
I would only add to this, for those who cannot get their hands on Knox's
little book, check out the intro to Philemon in the Interpreter's Bible and
the commentary itself by Knox.

Carlton (spelled correctly) Winbery

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