The Pauline Corpus of Life

The issue slavery, and especially equality is still a prevalent matter, as much discussion of it is incorporated in our daily lives today. It’s extremely important to note that slavery was viewed as a normal part of life in the ancient world, and many people have since changed their views. This topic interests me, because the world is not all evil, and to search for hope amidst a pile of destruction and hurt is empowering. According to Bart D. Ehrman, author of “A Brief Introduction to the New Testament” there is insignificant proof that Paul actually wrote all of the letters that many Christians attribute Him to have. Thus, as a way to be historically correct, or not falsify myself, I will be speaking of the Pauline Corpus(that which we think Paul is attributed to). The Pauline Corpus teaches that all humans are equal under God and that only God is the Master, not anyone/anything else.

There are no social hierarchies or biases towards anyone; we are equal in the eyes of God. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:21-24 that it does not matter what you are “called” slave, or free, it doesn’t matter where you are in life, keep working and glorifying God in all that you do. God frees the slaves and the free are still slaves of God. Repeatedly The Pauline Corpus teaches that all are equal in the eyes of God. In accordance to this, in Galatians 3:28 Paul writes that “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Jesus”. If you live for Christ and belong to Christ, then you are descendants of Abraham and will go to the Promise Land. Once again, Paul teaches of equality under Christ in Colossians 3:5-10. There are no social standings, Christ is in all of creation and that is the only definition to which one should live under/by. Masters are not any more authoritative than their slaved brother, for only God is. We are all slaves for God (Colossians 4:1) . Free people, especially those who didn’t believe in Christ probably found this statement outrageous; however, Paul is teaching that no humanly standings matter, only that which we do to better God’s kingdom. Lastly, in relation to that which people own, in  First Timothy 6:1-2, Paul teaches that “honor has no financial significance; God will be blasphemed when outsiders use the behavior of Christian slaves to defame the church”(Study Bible).  It does not matter how much wealth, or lack of wealth one possesses, for honor is in the heart and actions of a person. God does not judge upon the works and standings of a person, He judges upon the love in their heart for Him.

The Pauline Corpus also believes and teaches that God is the master over all and we are all slaves for Christ, not each other or anything else. In Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul tells his listeners to obey their masters but also for masters to treat their slaves with respect and fairness as they would treat themselves. Paul encourages slaves to serve whatever they are serving with enthusiasm and love for God. He explains to his listeners to follow the will of God from within your heart no matter what they are doing/their circumstances, and this will lad them to freedom. Another one of Paul’s teachings of slavery and the benevolence of Christ Jesus over all humans is in Titus 2:9-10. These verses imply that The Pauline Corpus views slaves as a perfect show piece when searching for the good of God and to those truly living their lives for Him. To slaves, being free in Christ meant being free in their hearts/souls and one day having glorious salvation in heaven.

The Pauline Corpus also speaks of slavery and the will of God over anything/everything else in the world in his letter to Philemon. Paul writes to Philemon from prison awaiting his trial, since christianity was highly persecuted at that time. Philemon was a slave owner of Onesimus who also owns a church. In the letter Paul tells that he is going to send Onesimus back to Philemon because he believes that he would be great in helping spread the word of the lord and preaching the gospel to better the kingdom of God. He says that he has confidence that Philemon will do what is proper and right (Philemon 21). This indicates that Paul does not encourage nor does he support slavery and wants Philemon to free Onesimus.

Onesimus Returns to Philemon with Paul's Letter

Oneimus was a slave that converted to whole-heartedly follow Christ while with Paul in prison. Paul believes that Onesimus now can help better the kingdom of heaven. Here is a specific example of the significance in repent, forgiveness and unfailing love for all.

“The Memory Page Bible : Philemon.” The Memory Page Bible : Philemon. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.

Ehrman, Bart D. A Brief Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.

Meeks, Wayne A. The HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version, with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1993. Print.

John 3:1-2 A Critical Analysis

The gospel of John was written around 70 AD to encourage readers to believe that Jesus is the messiah and the Son of God. It was written to inspire members of the community to maintain belief in God during a troubled time rather than convert outsiders. The concept of a “holy spirit” is huge in this gospel and plays a big role in John 3:1-21. This passage begins with the introduction of Nicodemus, a character in which only appears within the Gospel of John. Nicodemus is a Pharisee and most likely, based on context clues and abductive reasoning, a leader of the Jews. Right off the bat, it is evident the theme of dualism and drastic contrast. In verse 3:2, Nicodemus is seen coming to Jesus at night. Nicodemus comes to Jesus in “the night” which is representing a theme of spiritual darkness seen all throughout John. Nicodemus calls him by the name of “Rabbi”, which means “teacher”, even though Jesus didn’t actually have any formal training as a rabbi, but through his words and miracles he was a “teacher of God”. Nicodemus expresses that the people, including himself, know that Jesus is a teacher from God because of the miracles and signs he performed. Jesus replies telling Nicodemus that no one can know God’s kingdom unless they believe in God, because those who believe in their hearts that Jesus is their savior are “born again”. These verses tie into Ezekiel 36:25-27 , in which God promises that He will make newborn Christians “clean with the Holy Spirit”.

Christ and Nicodemus
To place perspective amongst your mind, this is a picture of Nicodemus and Jesus having this conversation.
After hearing the response of Jesus, Nicodemus replies with confusion on behalf of himself and the public concerning the meaning behind Jesus’ words of “born again”. He asks how someone can physically be re-born, and Jesus explains that one must be spiritually reborn, in alignment with the teaching of Christ. In these beginning verses, there is repetition in which Jesus says, “I tell you the truth…” before answering Nicodemus. This could mean that he is very serious about that which he is going to speak of, however, as with much, the significance to this repetition is factually unknown. In continuation of his clarification, Jesus exposes the difference between physical and spiritual re-birth by explaining that “flesh gives birth to flesh…” (John 3:6). Like a mother gives birth to her child. Jesus continues by saying that to understand God, you must believe in something that, much like wind, you cannot see, but can surely feel. Carrying on from that, in verse 8 Jesus questions Nicodemus’ leadership in asking how he could be the “teacher of Israel” and not understand the fundamental concepts in regards to their creator, God.

 

Continuing on to verse 3:13, Jesus clarifies His reasoning for not speaking of heaven by expressing that if people don’t believe what they hear on earth, how could they begin to believe the things that happen in heaven? If people already don’t understand or believe God, how would they believe in heaven? Heaven is something that nobody on earth has ever experienced and nobody could grasp such heavenly things, because there is nothing to compare it to on earth. Verse 14 is an allusion, and metaphor in which has much symbolic importance among the message of Jesus. This verse references a story of Moses in which God told Moses to hang a bronze snake upon a pole. Anyone who had been bitten by the snake (assuming He means metaphorically) would live if they saw the snake. This verse could very well be referencing Jesus’ death on the cross and his ascension into heaven, or more precisely, Jesus death and resurrection. Sinners who look at Jesus on the cross and believe that he died for their sins will be saved. Verses 17-19 show great dualism and enhance the point being made in doing so as well. Jesus says that all who believe in God will experience the kingdom of heaven. He’s explaining that God gave His son and life to die for the sins of humanity so that those who believe may be saved and have eternal life. He did not send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save it. He did not send Jesus to make the lives of those around him miserable, but forever full of peace and everlasting safety in the hands of their creator. Those who do not believe, however, stand “condemned already” because of their disbelief in Jesus, according to 3:18. How can you possibly believe in all that God has, and continues to do for you, if you do not believe in his biggest sacrifice? These verses approach intellectual questioning and also exemplify dualism. We see this in condem/save, everlasting life/death, belief/disbelief, ascension/descention, and sin/faith.

Contrasting dualism is shown once again in verse 19 continuing with that of light/darkness. He is saying that beauty and pure goodness has come into the world, but men love sin. Men love what is earthly and easy to believe in. They are hence afraid to come to the light (Jesus) because of the inner shame they hold. This shame stems from the sins in darkness that they have committed without God shining in their life and in their actions. Verses 20-21 end this section of “Jesus Teaching to Nicidemus” by concluding that all things are done through and by God. Nothing is possible without the gracious hand of God guiding the action. These verses carry out dualism in “truth/evil”. Everyone who lives in sin will not find God, but when you live in the light and through God’s word, you will find the truth. Truth is overarchingly dualistic as well, with its contrasts to evil in these verses. Jesus ends his words by explaining that through all the evil in the world, the light of God will overcome.

 

 

source of the photo:

http://”Christen Købke | Christ and Nicodemus.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.