Bondage, Freedom and the "new creation""
"huper doulos", "adelphon", "en sarki/en kurio" , "huper ha"

Group II Presentation - Arpil 9, 1999

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Salient Features

1. The slave in the Christian oikos is in a better position due to the rearrangement of the oikos under the new master, Jesus Christ. Everyone is subject to one kurios – a brothered-one. Therefore, we are all brothered-ones to Jesus Christ.

In contrast, the worst thing a Jew could call another was a slave and for this one could be excommunicated from the synagogue. Yet, in the New Testament, the best thing is being a slave to the Lord.

2. The oikos is an evangelistic tool because of this new arrangement of master/slave; it was attractive to the outsider who wondered how this new arrangement would work in concert with the current societal arrangement.

3. "Adelphon" even though grammatically masculine is considered inclusive of the female gender and is not indicative of an exclusivist term. This word elevates the status of the people to a new relationship, brother-to-brother. And in this relationship there is obedience to a new master. Each is distinctive with different gifts, yet they are the same in the eyes of the Lord. This is a new creature, a new being who was not defined and is still not fully defined. This new relationship is inclusive of all, even our enemies. Our relationship includes man to God and man to man.

To this word, Paul attaches "agapeton", beloved. Here Paul connects us to the resurrected one (Rom. 8:12-29) and makes us common-brother, co-heirs with Christ. We all belong to each other and stand in relationship with each other—the inheritance of blood-bondedness.

4. "En sarki/en kupio" – The only time these are used together is in Phlm. 16; usually in the flesh” is linked to “in the Spirit.” Using II Cor 3:17, it seems that “in the Lord” and “in the Spirit” can be used interchangeably.

5. "Huper doulon" – This phrase is set in a correlative position to beloved brothered-one making these two equal. Here Philemon is confronted with being beyond a slave, in whatever way that means. For here the “beyondness” is not laid out; it is that “new creature” for which there is no definition.

Paul is not asking for Philemon to give Onesimus his freedom, but is instead asking Philemon to take Onesimus back with a new relationship. Paul is not addressing the institution of slavery and this is what no one wants to hear from Paul.

6. "Huper ha" -- Paul asked Philemon to go “beyond what things" he is saying.” Referring to v. 16, Paul speaks of a new relationship within the household of the new master, Jesus Christ. There is no specific reference to the manumission of Onesimus; Paul does not assume his apostolic persona and require freedom to be given. Philemon is asked to go beyond the known limits into the unknown and enter the new shape of the Christian oikos. It is here that “in the flesh and in the spirit” that the new relationship is born; it is here that the brothered-one to all is Jesus Christ and we are all brothers to each other.

1. We are stuck on the word "doulos"; we do not want to be a "doulos", much less a “beyond-slave.”
2. Paul’s formula for the “new creature” is “in the Lord/in the Spirit.” The question revolves around the "nuni de" question.
3. In the Christian oikos, change comes from the top down—not bottom up—from the Lord, who is our master.
4. Paul says that Onesimus is worth much more in the Lord. This is a result of Paul’s birthing of Onesimus into the Lord. Onesimus is now bonded to Philemon in the blood of Christ.
5. We today still move between the material and spiritual world—between the "kronos" and the "kairos" time. We live with one foot in the material and one foot in the spiritual world.

Class Discussion Summary
1. There are three levels to the use of "adelphos":
      a. When the word is plural it is vocative, it includes everyone, male and female
         The first heir is Christ, as the Son to the Father.
         Then we are brothered-ones with Christ and therefore are now Sons to the Father also.
      b. In Philemon 2, the feminine use of brothered-one
         Is the spousal relationship honored within the "adelphos"?
      c. Does the word include the literal and figurative relationships of brother and sister? Where is the starting point?

2. Christ is the "doulos", the beloved one, the raised one.
The confessional reality---“Christ is Lord!” cf. Rom 10:9-10
Christ was raised from the dead by his Father.
This changes everything in the household. Confessional reality is linked with parenesis.
The "huper doulon" is the eschatalogical new—the "aionion" of Philemon 15.

3. The new creation is the “now” and the “not yet.” It’s what God proclaims us to be—but what are we?

4. "Agapos" is used twice in Philemon, v. 16, 1.
In the Gospels—"this is my beloved one"—not just loved one, but the heir.
Everyone believed Joseph wasn’t the father, but legitimacy comes from the voice, “This I my Son . . .”
His adoption by the Father.
v. 10—there was a brother—"ho agapos"—we also are beloved ones when we come up out of the water of our baptism.

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