The Story of Scripture – Genesis to Revelation – Part 2: Sin, Rebellion, Separation from God, and Death

Sin, Rebellion, Separation from God, and Death[1]

Why do we miss it? Because in Genesis chapter three, that tree of knowledge of good and evil comes into play. It is a unique chapter because we have a serpent that is present, and the text does not really tell us why, other than the fact that the Lord God had made the serpent. The serpent talks and they seem to have a straightforward dialogue. The dialogue is about this tree and the instruction of the very words of God. The serpent takes the very words of God and quickly twists it: ““You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”” (Genesis 3:4–5, NIV) It is quest for power, and that’s interesting because it even goes back to that word “crafty.” Now the serpent was craftier than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.[2] With that language it was telling us that the serpent was an individual that was acquiring wisdom and power. We find that connection in the words that the serpent uses of basically saying, “Hey, you too want power.” Well, sure enough, the deception occurs, and Eve makes the decision here. It says very clearly in the text that Eve took, and she ate, and she gave some to Adam, who was right there with her. From that point in the story, things are a little different. Immediately their eyes are opened, and they realize they were naked. So, the first thing they did was cover themselves up. This issue of covering was probably more than just physical; it was also an issue of their spiritual exposure that has now taken place. So, we get this storyline of them trying to hide in the garden and God comes and walks in the garden, which apparently was a repeated thing. The great question occurs: “But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”” (Genesis 3:9, NIV)

God knew exactly where Adam was, but he wanted Adam to realize where Adam was. Instead of repenting of his sin, the very first thing Adam did was blame Eve. Eve blames the serpent. God banishes the serpent and makes him crawl on his belly, and God makes a statement about one from the seed of woman would come, and there was going to be a great conflict. The word used in our English texts a lot of the time is “enmity.” There is going to be a struggle between one of the seed of woman and the serpent and his offspring. Even more specific is that there is one that will one day come and crush the head of the serpent.

At the end of chapter 3, God made garments of skin. And it was God who drove them from the garden, so they could not have access to the tree of life, and therefore stay in that condemned state. One of the main points from chapter 3 as well is that where there is sin there is death.

Then in chapter 4 of Genesis, there is death. Cain kills Abel. In chapter 5 of Genesis, there is a genealogy of death, where they live, and they die. They live, and they die. They die. They die. All except for Enoch, who walked with God and then he was no more. There are these anomalies along the way.

Another unique anomaly is in chapters 6-9, where we get the story of Noah. Noah was not better than anybody else, but he found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Instead of washing the entire system away, God preserves Noah and his family. This is a picture of incredible grace because when Noah gets off the boat, there is sin.

Then in chapter 10, we have the Table of Nations, and it tells us and shows us that, post-Flood, the entire world was populated again, and then we get a microcosm that led to a lot of sin. In chapter 11, we have the Tower of Babel. It is there we see humanity coming together to make their name great. It is all about making their name great. God intervenes, and their language is confused, and people are disbursed.

[1] J.  Scott  Duvall  and  J.  Daniel  Hayes,  Living  God’s  Word:  Discovering  Our  Place  in  the  Great  Story  of  Scripture(Grand  Rapids,  MI:  Zondervan,  2012),  22.

[2] The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ge 3:1.

Advertisements

The Story of Scripture – Genesis to Revelation – Part 1: God Creates a Wonderful World and Places the First People in a Fruitful Garden

Structure

So, let us start with the structure of the Bible. There are some important numbers to start with: 5-12-5-5-12. This makes up the 39 books of the Old Testament. The first five books are referenced as the Pentateuch, or the Torah (which means The Law). They can also be referenced as the Five Books of Moses. The books are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

There are 12 books referenced as theological history, where the author is always doing something with

what the author is saying. The 12 are Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1st & 2nd Samuel, 1st & 2nd Kings, 1st & 2nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. Up until this point, all the books are in chronological order.

Then there are 5 books of poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Songs of Solomon.

Then there are 5 books referenced as major Prophets and 12 books that are referenced as minor Prophets. The only difference is the major Prophets are bigger books than the minor Prophets.

You can put your arms around the books of poetry, the minor Prophets, and the major Prophets, pick them up, and drop them into the theological history section, which is where they belong chronologically, for the most part.

That is the Old Testament. Now for the New Testament. The numbers to remember here are 4-1-21-1. That adds up to the 27 books of the New Testament. They start with 4 books called the Gospels, that are very similar: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Then there is one book that’s theological history, called Acts.

Then there are 21 Letters. They are also referenced as Epistles. But they are really letters from a person to a person or form a person to a group.

So, in the Old Testament, there are 39 books. In the New testament there are 27. You put these two together, and you have the 66 books of the Bible. That is the structure of the Bible.

God Creates a Wonderful World and Places the First People in a Fruitful Garden[1]

The story starts way back in Genesis chapter one. The text starts off, “In the beginning God created.” The thesis sentence of the book of Genesis, and arguably the entire Bible is that there is a sovereign God, and He is the Creator God. That is seen vividly in the chapter. He speaks, and it comes into existence. There is a cycle of days where God speaks; He creates; and the text basically says: and God creates, and it is so, and it is good. And God creates again, and it was so, and it is good. And God creates, and it is good. Then it goes all the way through the created order and it comes to day six. Now that day is unique. Because there, God creates in His own image; male and female, and it is very good; and they are given dominion. That means they have rulership over everything else God created in the previous days. We already see this story is going to be about a Creator God and man and woman created in the image of God. That is anticipated in the storyline. On day seven God rests, not because he is pooped out, but because it is a position of satisfaction and appreciation of what He had done. Because of that, that day was designated as a day in remembrance of the fact that God is the Creator God, and all provision comes from Him.

Then we step into Genesis chapter two, which really takes us back to the creation of man, who was placed in the garden, and woman, who is eventually created. There are two trees identified – one in the center of the garden, the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the other is the tree of life. So, man and woman and all the other animals are present in the garden and we find out that there is one instruction. The instruction was to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, because the day you eat of it, you will surely die. By the time we get to the end of the chapter we realize that all is right with the world. Man and woman are in the garden, and they were naked, and they felt no shame. It is a picture of shalom, or peace. Really, we all long to get back to that garden because we know we miss it.

[1] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hayes, Living God’s Word: Discovering Our Place in the Great Story of Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 22.

The Whole Bible Story

I recently read The Whole Bible Story by Dr. William H. Marty, and I wrote this blog to analyze the overall organization of Marty’s presentation, why I think he ordered the structure in the manner he did and what components he utilized that I found helpful in telling the biblical narrative.

Marty presented The Whole Bible Story in a fluid chronological way of telling the story of the Bible. It does skip information like the laws, messages, prophecies, and parables. It also does not include Old Testament poetry (wisdom literature) and prophecy, and it does not include the New Testament letters.

He organizes the story into nineteen chapters and an epilogue. He starts with the time of Creation to Babel. Chapter two covers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s sons. Chapter three goes over Moses and the Exodus. Chapter four is the wandering in the wilderness. Chapter five covers more of the wandering in the wilderness, and then Moses’ death. Chapter six introduces the promised land with Joshua. Chapter seven covers the time of the judges. Chapter eight is titled “The Kingdom Unites”, which goes over the introduction of Samuel, Saul, and David and how they are playing their roles after the time of the judges. Chapter nine goes over the reigns of David and Solomon. Chapter ten and eleven highlight the period when the kingdom is first divided into the northern and southern kingdoms. Chapter twelve covers the Israelites (God’s people) being exiled and living in those conditions. Chapter thirteen marks the first point of his book of the New Testament. This chapter comes to the point of the birth and childhood of Jesus. Chapter fourteen covers Jesus’ early ministry. Chapter fifteen goes over his Galilean ministry. Chapter sixteen covers his later Judean ministry, Perean ministry, and journey to Jerusalem. Chapter seventeen covers Jesus’ crucifixion. Chapter eighteen wraps up the four Gospels with the burial and resurrection of Jesus. Chapter nineteen covers the story of the Church. Marty then closes with an epilogue that covers the main ideas and narrative of the book of Revelation.

Most of the order makes sense to me because it is flows in chronological order very well. I think the reason he may have excluded the laws, messages, prophecies, parables, poetry and letters is because, although it is still God’s word and important, he may not view these parts of the Scripture as critical to the master narrative or story of the Bible. I can see how including those could possibly cause a reader to be hung up and bogged down trying to understand the details and proper interpretations. Furthermore, there is a lot of teaching, doctrine and prophecy in that part of the Scripture that provides a lot of explanation and details in between major actions, but it does not add a whole lot of movement to the main story. This indicates to me, he is only interested (with this book) in the parts of Scripture that move the narrative forward.

There were several components Marty utilized that I found helpful in telling the biblical narrative. From the start, he provided each book of the Bible in parenthesis in the sections within the chapters in the table of contents. I found this helpful because I was able to keep checking where the narrative matched up with the Scripture, and it was easy to be aware of where in the Scripture Marty was describing.

There was a lot of identifying, yet simple, language Marty used in his book that made it easy to identify where I was in the narrative and how it was moving forward and connecting to what had already been covered.

For example, on page 46 Marty states “[God] assured Moses if Israel honored him as their ‘great king’ by obeying the covenant, then they would be his treasure people, ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’” This made it very easy to see this is the part of the story the Abrahamic Covenant occurs, and that was the Abrahamic Covenant that was described.

Then Marty states on only a few pages later (page 49) “Though Israel had broken its covenant promises, God had remained faithful to his promise to make the descendants of Abraham into a great nation. He told Moses ‘Go to the land I swore I would give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’” So as the reader, I know a few things about the narrative of the Bible just from the helpful language Marty uses: God is still staying true to His covenant; this covenant has not gone away and it is still part of the story; Israel messed up, yet God is still holding up His end of the deal.

More helpful langue Marty used is something I identified on page 61. Marty writes “He predicted the defeat of Israel’s enemies and the emergence of a powerful king in the distant future: ‘A star will rise from Jacob, and a scepter from Israel.’ (Christians believe this prophecy refers to the Lord Jesus Christ.)” The language Marty uses, the quote he has from the Scripture and the statement in the parenthesis were all helpful for me to connect that the coming of Jesus is already a theme in the background and helps me identify that his part of the story does not come out of nowhere and there is now some buildup to it, from at least this point on in the narrative.

On page 65, Marty uses more helpful language in telling the biblical narrative.

“But Moses also warned that failure to fulfill their covenant obligations would bring disaster. God would drive them out of the land and scatter them over the earth. However, even then, if Israel would repent and return to the Lord, he would forgive them and restore them to the Promised Land.

Moses said Israel had a choice ‘between life and death, between blessings and curses.’ They could choose by faithfully loving and fully obeying the Lord their God.”

This language of the Abrahamic Covenant showing up again helps me to see that the covenant is still in play during this point of the biblical narrative, and it sets the stage for what to look out for going forward in the narrative.

Marty continues with this language on page 73 to show that, even after Moses, Joshua is still concerned with the Abrahamic Covenant and it is still a part of the story.

“Joshua also summoned all the people to Shechem for renewal of the covenant. He reminded them of their special relationship with the Lord. God had promised Abraham and his descendants a home, he had rescued them from slavery, and he had given them victory over the inhabitants of the land.”

And if Joshua is renewing the covenant, then it must still be a part of the story moving forward as well.

Moving forward in the book, I thought Marty did an excellent job at the beginning of the chapter called “The Time of the Judges”. On pages 75 and 76 he sets the stage for the chapter by summarizing the cycle of Israel’s failure and God’s faithfulness. Without this quick summary and explanation, as the reader, I would probably not have understood how the biblical narrative was connecting, but he does an excellent job keeping it fluid with these two pages at the beginning of the chapter.

Then, just towards the end of the chapter Marty writes about Ruth and did an excellent job of portraying just how refreshing Ruth’s role was in this great narrative story. He writes “Not everyone was trapped in Israel’s destructive cycle of sin and oppression. An outsider named Ruth became the great-grandmother of David and an ancestor of Jesus Christ.” So just when I am feeling beat down and tired from reading Israel’s repeated failure, Marty highlights some good news among a lot of sad news in this chapter. Not only was she not trapped in the destructive cycle of sin, but Marty makes sure to point out that Jesus Christ comes from her lineage. This even emphasizes the point that Jesus still has not been forgotten about at this point of the story, and He is still coming.

One part of Marty’s book cleared up some personal confusion I had with the biblical narrative. I probably had not read or studied carefully enough, but I had not understood how or why Saul was already considered an antagonist even before he started plotting to kill David. On page 92, in chapter the titled “The Kingdom Unites”, the way Marty recapped Saul’s “mess ups” as I would call them really helped me understand that part of the narrative better and gave me an even better understanding of the significance of the transition from Saul to David.

In the next chapter, on page 103, Marty gives his iteration of the Davidic Covenant:

“Because he was living in a palace and the ark was only in a tent, David summoned the prophet Nathan and told him he wanted to build a temple for the ark. Nathan was certain the Lord would honor David’s plans, but instead the Lord promised he would establish David’s dynasty forever, saying, ‘Your house and kingdom always will endure.’ One of his descendants, not David, would build a house for the Lord.”

This component helped with understanding there is a new covenant in play, and the narrative of the story is slightly shifting and focusing more specifically on this covenant

Yet, within the same chapter, on page 109 Marty writes “In his final counsel to Solomon, David gave spiritual and practical advice. He told Solomon that if he courageously and faithfully obeyed the decrees of Moses, the Lord would bless his descendants for generation after generation.” This tells me the Mosaic Covenant and that part of the narrative still applies to the narrative going forward, and the it has not been forgotten about after the passing of time to this point.

I use all these examples and quotes from the book to show that one of the major components I found helpful in the way Marty told the biblical narrative was his perspective and language. He could have chosen language that was not easy to understand. He also could have used several different perspectives to focus on various parts of the Bible. But instead his perspective was focused on the entire metanarrative of the Bible, and he chose language that was simple and made it easy to identify how the biblical narrative flows and builds upon itself.

Key Terms of Pauline Presentation the Flesh and the Holy Spirit

The ethical concept of the flesh –set of sinful and selfish passions inside of us, in opposition of the law, the Spirit, and where God wants to take us.

Filling of the Spirit –the ministry of the Holy Spirit whereby, in response to the believer’s continued yieldedness, He controls and empowers the believer for sanctification and service.

Walking by the Spirit –the ministry of the Holy Spirit whereby, in response to a believer’s continued yieldedness in accordance with the biblical command, He frees that believer from the control of the flesh and produces the fruit of the Spirit.

Leading of the Spirit –the Spirit puts to death the deeds of the body, confirming therefore, we are children of God and no longer living under the law.

Indwelling of the Spirit –the act whereby at conversion the Holy Spirit makes the believing sinner His permanent dwelling place forever.

Legalism –my effort to obey God by my resources for my glory, undermining both God’s grace and holiness.

Application of Romans 6:1-14

I have a friend who confessed to me that she is plagued by the periodic struggle to control emotional outbursts, often expressing anger at others. My friend recognizes how unreasonable and hurtful these outbursts are. While she confesses these outbursts are sinful and regrets them deeply, she can’t seem to stop. My friend asks “Why can’t I stop hurting others this way? Why do these emotions control me at times? Why doesn’t God stop me from giving into to it?

Again here is the Bible text:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace?

My Response:

I hear what you are saying, and I understand where you are coming from friend. I have been plagued with emotional sin as well. Read Romans 6:1-14 and we will go from there.

The fact is, as a Christian, you died to sin when you were baptized and received salvation. Sin here is singular, meaning it is not your emotional outbursts in themselves, but rather the state of authority, mastery, or reign of unrighteousness. So, when you died to sin, you were separated from and set free from your relationship with unrighteousness as your master. You have an old self, which is how you used to be before you were saved. You were once living under the authority of sin and unrighteousness. However, with your old self dead, the relationship with sin as your master has been severed because it takes two individuals to be in a relationship. If one has passed away, there is only one left; thus, no relationship.

When you were baptized, you were baptized with Christ. This made you new spiritually. Your old self passed away (with Christ) from the authority of sin, and your new self was raised (with Christ and his resurrection) without the relationship with sin as your master. You have been spiritually renewed and have a new relationship under the authority of grace with Christ by the glory of the Father. You have been given a new way to live. This new way to live starts fresh every day and is under a new authority and new relationship. This is not just a resuscitation; it is a new form of life without your emotional sin. All this means you have a new identity in Christ in His resurrection, and the start of new spiritual life.

This work of God at your salvation in your identity with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection separates you from sin’s power and gives you a new quality of life.

So, at this point, you made the commitment of faith to be baptized and pledge your allegiance to Christ and He has given you a new life and new authority of grace. There are still things you can do on your end to stop putting yourself back in the old relationship with sin as your authority though. In fact, there are three key things in the passage in you can apply to your situation to stop giving into your emotions and hurting others.

First you must know, acknowledge, and believe that God’s word is true and a change has really occurred that unites you with Christ. This is not just abstract talk or me feeding you rainbows and butterflies. This is reality. Sin and your emotions are no longer your master. God’s grace has set you free from that bondage, and is your ultimate authority now.

The second thing you are to do is reckon your life and make the conscious decision that your life is not run by the mastery of sin and your emotions. In this context, reckon means to set your direction towards God and righteousness. You are to count yourself dead to sin but alive to God. Since you are dead to its power, you should recognize that fact and not continue in your emotional outbursts. Instead, you need to realize you have new life and identity in Christ.

Lastly, your attitude that you have died to sin must be translated into action. You need to present your emotions, your mouth, and your tongue to God to be used for deeds of righteousness. Scripture commands you to not let sin reign as it did before your salvation. When sin reigns in your life and body, you obey its evil desires. Sin enslaves, making you subject to your own evil and desires. Sin manifests itself through your emotions, mouth, and tongue. So instead of offering your emotions, mouth, and tongue to sin, as instruments of wickedness, you should offer them to God as instruments of righteousness. In another passage Paul commands you to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices…to God” (Romans 12:1)

In conclusion by God’s design, sin and emotions are not supposed to be your master. You are no longer under sin, but under grace. Because of grace, it is possible to defeat your sin of emotional outbursts. All you need to do is follow Paul’s Holy Spirit inspired instructions. Once more, those are to know a change has occurred and you are united with Christ, reckon your life and make a conscious decision that your life is not run by the mastery of sin, and present your emotions, mouth, and tongue to God to be used for deeds of righteousness.

Paraphrase of Romans 6:1-14

Using my definitions from my last post, I have written a paraphrased translation of Romans 6:1-14.

Original text:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace?

My Paraphrase:

What is our attitude to be? Should we remain living under the authority of unrighteousness for grace to increase even more? No way! If our prior state of being under the authority of sin has passed away, how can we still live under that authority? Don’t you know that all of us who pledged our allegiance to Christ and have been made a new person spiritually, have also passed away from the authority of sin, as He did? Because of this pledge of allegiance, we have been spiritually renewed with Christ by the glory of the Father and we have been given a new identity and a new way to live with Jesus.

Since we have been unified with him in the passing of the state of being under the authority of sin, we will be unified with him in this raising of new life. We recognize that our prior state of being under the authority of sin passed away with him so our physical body will no longer be ruled by sin, so that we could escape that bondage. Anyone who has experienced this passing away of the state of being under the authority of sin has been emancipated from that reign of unrighteousness. If we have experienced this passing away of the state of being under the authority of sin with Christ, we affirm that we will also live with him. We recognize that Christ, being resurrected, will never need to pass away again; the authority of sin has no reign over him. He experienced this once for every believer of this, and now his authority and action are righteousness for God. Therefore you too require thought believing you have passed away to the authority of unrighteousness and now live in righteousness with God in Christ Jesus.

Do not let unrighteousness take dominion in your physical body, to make you submit to its desires. Do not allow the parts of your body to be used as tools for immorality, instead allow yourselves to be used by God like you have been given a new spiritual life, and allow parts of your body to be used as tools for morality. The authority of unrighteousness will not have power over you, because law does not rule you. Instead unmerited favor is your authority.

Key Terms in Romans 6:1-14

Next, I would like to take a look at Romans 6:1-14. This is a vital passage that describes our new identity in Christ. To start with, I would like to identify some key terms used by Paul in this passage of Scripture and define them.

Romans 6:1-14:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Sin – not the individual act of sins, but rather the state of authority, mastery, or reign of unrighteousness.

Continue – remain living under the authority of sin.

Death – the passing of our old man so that we are no longer under the reign or authority of sin.

Baptized – having placed our allegiance to Christ and have been and made a new person spiritually.

Old man – the prior state of being under the authority or reign of sin.

Abiding Truths of Philemon 4-7

As we come to the end of the Bible study of Philemon, we must recognize that no study of the Scripture is complete until the main point of the passage in its relationship to your life is understood. Therefore, I’m now going to help derive the main principle or theme from the text.

I order to accomplish this, I will use five principles of correlation and clearly show each step. The final result are principles stating theological truths and a simple statement of the main theological proposition of the passage in Philemon 4-7.

Step 1: Six Interrogative Questions

Who

Paul

Philemon

God

Jesus Christ

Saints

What

Thank

Mention

Prayers

Love Faith

Fellowship

Knowledge

Joy

Comfort

Love

Hearts

When

Present tenses

thank my God always

making mention of you in my prayers

hear of your love

have toward the Lord Jesus

have come

Future tense

may become effective

Past tense

have been refreshed

Where

Why

Love and faith toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints

For Christ’s sake

Come to have much joy and comfort in love

The hearts of the saints have been refreshed

How

Making mention of you in my prayers

Pray fellowship of faith become effective through the knowledge of every good thing

Come to have much joy and comfort in love

Step 2: Record All Truths of the Passage

Believers should thank God.

Christians should pray about others.

Believers should have love and faith toward the Lord Jesus.

Christians should have love and faith toward other Christians.

The Lord Jesus and the saints are not the same.

It should be evident to others of a believer’s love and faith.

Fellowship of faith can become effective through the knowledge of every good thing.

We should pray for other believers to have their fellowship of faith to become effective.

The knowledge of every good thing is in all believers.

The knowledge of every good thing is for Christ’s sake.

Joy and comfort can be found in love.

Believers can experience joy and comfort.

Believers can experience other believers’ love.

Hearts of saints can be refreshed.

Hearts of saints can be refreshed through other Christians.

Step 3: Group Truths Together

Prayer

Believers should thank God.

Christians should pray about others.

We should pray for other believers to have their fellowship of faith to become effective.

Love and Faith

Believers should have love and faith toward the Lord Jesus.

Christians should have love and faith toward other Christians.

It should be evident to others of a believer’s love and faith.

Fellowship of faith can become effective through the knowledge of every good thing.

Joy and comfort can be found in love.

Believers can experience joy and comfort.

Believers can experience other believers’ love.

Jesus

The Lord Jesus and the saints are not the same.

Knowledge

The knowledge of every good thing is in all believers.

The knowledge of every good thing is for Christ’s sake.

Hearts Refreshed

Hearts of saints can be refreshed.

Hearts of saints can be refreshed through other Christians.

Step 4: Set Aside All Non-Demanding Truths

Believers should thank God.

Christians should pray about others.

We should pray for other believers to have their fellowship of faith to become effective.

Believers should have love and faith toward the Lord Jesus.

Christians should have love and faith toward other Christians.

It should be evident to others of a believer’s love and faith.

Step 5: Theological Principles

Believers should thank God always in their prayers.

Christians should pray for other Christians to have their fellowship of faith to become effective.

Followers of Jesus should have love and faith toward Him.

Believers should have love and faith toward each other.

Love and faith in a Christian should be evident to others.

Step 6: Main Theme

Believers should have faith and love in the Lord and practice the same with one another.

Now that you now the main theme, how will you apply it to your life?

How does an understanding of Roman Slavery in the first century help one understand what Paul is saying in the book of Philemon?

Yesterday I posted the Historical Background of  Philemon, but you may have noticed there was something missing. Clearly, the issue of slavery is central to the book of Philemon and I included very little information about that institution in the Roman Empire at the time of Paul. I did this intentionally, to single out this issue and approach it with a narrowed focus.

The Roman law of slavery at this time was extremely intricate, and slaves were regularly treated inhumanely and the average condition of a slave was horrendous.[1] Considering the average condition of a slave being horrendous, one can conclude from the following papyrus quote from AD 298 that no practical limits existed for slave masters to express their anger on runaways. “[A]nd when you a [slave-catcher] find him [a fugitivius] you are to deliver him up, having the same powers as I should have myself, if present to […], imprison him, chastise him, and to make an accusation before the proper authorities against those who harbored him, and demand satisfaction.”[2]

We can see in the New Testament that slavery was not yet abolished or opposed by Christians, at this time. Paul instructs both slaves and masters on how to work and behave in Colossians 3:22-4:1: “Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven. ” As you can see, Paul doesn’t suggest slavery should be banned, nor does he really state he’s opposed to it. He tells the church that slaves should obey and serve both their masters and the Lord. He also tells the church that the masters should treat their slaves justly and fairly, like God treats them.

Given the disrespect paid to slaves by the secular, Roman culture and even the Christian view of slavery; for Paul to request that Onesimus not only be freed, but seen as an equal brother in Christ, (Philemon 16) would have been radical in Roman society at that time.

                [1] McNaughton, Ian S. Opening up Colossians and Philemon. Opening Up Commentary. Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006.

                [2] Cho, B. “Subverting Slavery : Philemon, Onesimus, and Paul’s Gospel of Reconciliation.” Evangelical Quarterly 86, no. 2 (2014): 99-115. New Testament Abstracts, EBSCOhost (accessed October 27,