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PHILEMON

In Paul's short letter to Philemon, there is not much material concerning God's nature. Below are two notable points. 

1:5a  

I hear of your faith in The Lord Jesus...

The object of Paul's monotheistic faith is Yahweh, The God of Israel. In 1:5, Paul conflates The Lord Jesus into that identity. So far, I have seen faith in The Father cited 4 times in the New Testament, and faith in The Son cited 31 times. There is no contradiction because The Father and The Son are one.  

→ See Object of Universal Human Consummation


1:8 

I have great confidence in Christ that I could command you to do what is fitting.

Christ at this point is dead, resurrected, and ascended. Why is Paul's confidence not in God instead? If Jesus were a mere agent of God, or even an exalted savior, how could he influence Philemon to do the right thing? Paul could have skipped the exhortation to Philemon, employed his own advice encouraging slaves to escape, and not sent Onesimus back at all! Instead, Paul expects "Christ" to have some role to play in this scenario. I wonder if Paul is not referring to The Spirit of Christ as "Christ," just as he did in Romans 8:10. Even if The Spirit is in view, one has to wrestle with the ascription of "Christ" here, and its place within biblical theology of Jesus's identity.

Philemon Summary

Faith in The Lord Jesus rather than The Father is possible within monotheism because Jesus is included in the identity of Yahweh. Paul has great confidence that Christ (or, The Spirit of Christ) can influence Philemon to release Onesimus from slavery.  

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