ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 216


slaves were routinely killed by crucifixion. But Paul asks him to grant
Onesimus freedom and to welcome him “as a man and as a brother in
the Lord”—effectively as an equal.
Notice that Paul is mirroring what Christ has done for us. He is not
merely encouraging reconciliation between Philemon and Onesimus;
he is embodying that reconciliation himself. By putting himself between
them and volunteering to pay any debt that Onesimus owes, Paul is
doing exactly what he asks of Philemon: “Put into action the generosity
that comes from your faith.”
The foundation for everything Paul writes in this short letter is the
radical new unity made possible by Christ. The new world that has been
born through the death and resurrection of the Messiah directly challenges the old way of life in the present evil age. In the Messiah’s new
family, love cuts across the old boundaries between people: Jew and
Greek, slave and free, male and female. We all are now one in Christ.

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