2021 – The Other
In 2021, in my sermons, we are exploring the Others. I am going to exegetically preach some of the shorter books in the New Testament looking for principles of how we relate to other people.
We are currently working in the shortest of Paul’s letters; Philemon. So far, we have discovered 5 principles of interrelating to the Others… Also, so far, we have only seen principles that apply to “other” Christians. Perhaps, that is good. We need to solidify our relationships within the body, before we seek to work on the other “Others”.
Principle One Interrelating with the Others… Paul has a special relationship with each Other. We need to view each other through the lens of Jesus. Jesus sees the other’s value; their potential; their glory in the Gospel…
Principle Two Interrelating with the Others… Paul has a prayer for the Other.
We say a short prayer of grace on each other. That has to change our interactions.
Principle Three Interrelating with the Others… Paul has a formula... love, faith, hope… for the Others. Being a Christian in company of other Christians is an operation in showing love, processing faith and sharing hope. I love that about our Bible Class…we process our faith in a loving, confident place.
Principle Four Interrelating with the Others… Paul takes joy and finds comfort from the Others. We need to let our guts relax… we love each other!
Principle Five Interrelating with the Others… In Christ all are one! Paul, writing from a jail cell, requests Philemon, who is a wealthy slave-owning Roman, to grace a runaway slave, named Onesimus, because they are in Christ… together.
Tanya has chickens. There is one that is the boss. She gets her way. The rest are ordered from top to bottom. There is a pecking order. Chickens aren’t Christians. Sorry, Tanya. There is no pecking order in Christ.
Timothy Donald Stidham Quote… (different from Tim quotes)
You cannot read Paul’s letter to Philemon without seeing Paul’s revolutionary theology! Because of Christ, culture was, and continues to be, reshaped. Kings have been dethroned. Prejudice uprooted. Slavery ended. Philanthropy encouraged. Racial, ethnic, social status, and gender bias… have been constantly under attack, for 2,000 years, by Paul’s revolutionary theology…
Paul’s theology destroys the pecking order of society because… we are amazingly one in Christ.
I want to dig deeper into number five, this morning. Perhaps, we will discover a sixth principle.
Let’s recap the drama in Paul’s letter to Philemon. Onesimus, most likely, sneaks in and steals money from his master, Philemon. He slips away into the night to escape his slavery! Onesimus is free! Onesimus travels from Colosse where, Philemon lives, the 80 miles to the big city; Ephesus. I suspect – I am filling in the blanks – Onesimus has a big time being free; partying in the big city; spending all his stolen money. Then, Onesimus does something wrong. Maybe, he lets it slip he is a runaway. Onesimus gets thrown in jail… possibly, the same jail, maybe, the same cell as Paul. Onesimus, recognizes Paul. Onesimus remembers when Paul was in Colosse. Onesimus remembers Paul teaching Jesus to Philemon. Onesimus remembers Philemon and A-pphia and Archippus all being baptized. Then, in that dark cell, listening to Paul preach the Gospel, Onesimus becomes a believer!
I am making up most of this. But something did happen. Paul and Onesimus got together, after Onesimus had runoff. Paul taught Onesimus, about our LORD. Onesimus believed. Then, Paul writes the letter to Philemon; Paul’s former convert and current master of Onesimus. Can we sneak in Romans 8 here?
Romans 8:28-30 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose… and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
This brings us to the request Paul is making to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus…
Philemon 15-18 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother- especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. So, if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.
The main thing Paul is requesting of Philemon is to receive Onesimus back into grace. This would mean, at minimum, taking Onesimus back without crucifixion or torture. Crucifixion was the prescribed punishment for runaway slaves. Paul’s minimum request… don’t kill him; don’t beat him. But Paul is hoping for more than avoiding Onesimus’s punishment. Paul wants Philemon to consider Onesimus as not only a slave… but, receive Onesimus as Paul… as a brother in Christ.
This is the point at which I want to dig deeper into Paul’s request and the relationship that Christ creates amongst his followers.
Let’s dig into two key words in verse 17… koinonos and proslambano
Let’s dig, first, into koinonos … translated in the ESV as… partner.
Koinonos has as its basic meaning… a sharer. But it has with it the flavor of a partnership; a bond between individuals committed to something.
Listen to a couple of examples…
Luke 5:9-10 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.
James, John and Peter were all partners in a fishing business. This is a frequent usage of the word outside the New Testament. Business partners were koinonos.
1 Corinthians 10:20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.
By going to pagan temples and eating there… people would be koinonos; partners with demons. Yikes! Paul warns Christians don’t koinonos with the demons!
1 Peter 5:1Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,
Peter, as an elder, shares in the glory… a partner in the glory.
Change the masculine noun; koinonos to the feminine noun; koinonia…
1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship (partnership) with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
YLT Philemon 6 that the fellowship of thy faith may become working in the full knowledge of every good thing that is in you toward Christ Jesus;
Romans 15:27 For if the Gentiles have shared (verb koinoneo) in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.
Koinonos is our first word; the first shovel of dirt as we dig deeper. Paul considers Philemon as a faith-partner. It is sharing Christ, together. There is a bond of partnership… for those inChrist. Don’t be a chicken. Be a Christian!
Now let’s dig into the lesser known, but equally significant word… proslambano.
Proslambano has the root meaning of taking one alongside. Picture someone putting their arm around you and being a guide to help you. It means accept, welcome, join… warmly receive in order to encourage.
Romans 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
Romans 15:7Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
There is a welcoming of another into the glory of God. “Here, let me show you how we live in the glory of God. We give him glory. He shines his glory back on us.” It is to warmly invite an-other to help them into living the glory-life!
In the letter to the Romans the Gentile-Christians were to reach across the divide to welcome – proslambano – the Jewish-Christians into their common glory!
In the letter to Philemon, Paul is requesting Philemon to reach across the social divide; even the criminal divide between master and runaway-slave - and warmly welcome his now brother into their shared glory… in Christ! Paul askes… just like you would welcome me if I showed up on your doorstep, welcome Onesimus!
Wow, this second shovel full of dirt… shows us a different world. Proslambanois where those in Christ are welcomed!
Putting our two words back together into verse 17 we get…
There is a faith-partnership in Christ. There is a sharing of fellowship. There is a bond of common purpose. It is a union of all who are in Christ. Because of this joint-partnership in Christ, we welcome each other; we show each other the acceptance of Christ; we share the glory.
Bam… I think we just got deeper. Paul is not just saying don’t give Onesimus the beat’n. Paul is requesting that Philemon allow Christ to destroy the pecking order. Paul wants Philemon to welcome Onesimus into the faith-partnership. Remember, don’t be a chicken. Be a Christian!
But I want dig one more shovel full. There is a third significant word found in verse 18.
Philemon 18 If he has wronged you at all, (Paul speaking of Onesimus) or owes you anything, charge that to my account.
Digging into a third word… ellogeo – Charge to an account. It is translated credit. It is what you do when you go to Smith’s and insert your credit card in the hole; the ellogeo cardio. Obviously, ellogeo is a financial word. I think Paul is using it literally. Most likely, Onesimus stole money or whatever to fund his escape. But Paul is also alluding to a metaphorical meaning, in Christ!
We know this root word from last year’s Roman study…
Romans 4:3-8 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."
To those who are “in Christ” sin is not counted. There is no charge for those who have joined into the faith-partnership. Within this partnership, we should welcome each other… and we do not charge what is owed. Forgiveness is credited to our partnership in Christ.
Because of this Paul can add…
Philemon 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well).
Remember, the punishment – the debt – the credit for runaway slaves is crucifixion. Paul is “not mentioning” Philemon owes him a crucifixion; that Christ experienced for him.
Wow, what an amazing way to view our being in Christ! Because of Christ’s sacrifice in going to the cross, our debts to each other are credited to Christ’s account.
We not only live in “no condemnation” in Christ, we live in no debt to each other. Those who are in Christ are partners who share the same bank account. That works. Tanya and I have the same checking account. Faith-partners in Christ share the same wealth of forgiveness in Christ. We welcome the “others” into this partnership where we share in the glory! Chickens don’t have credit cards to this account.
I think we have dug deep enough. Let’s cover the hole back up.
In Christ there is a faith-partnership. We share our lives. We share our stuff. We share forgiveness with each other. We welcome any others to join in this partnership. When we wrong each other; say stupid things to each other; lose our patience with each other; think of each other as either an idiot or a manic… we quickly forgive each other; we quickly reconcile with each other… because we have joint-checking accounts covered by the blood of Jesus.
We have a Sixth principle of interrelating with the Others… Don’t be a chicken. Be a Christian. Or the less silly version… In Christ we are faith-partners!
January 17, 2021
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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