Philemon and Forgiveness (Part 5)

  I mentioned last time that this final posting on ‘Philemon and Forgiveness’ would (at last!) deal with the topic of forgiveness. One reason the word did not come into the first four postings is that the Greek word for forgiveness, which Paul most often used in his letters (charizomai), is not found in Philemon. […]

Philemon and Forgiveness (Part 4)

Interpersonal conflicts can often weigh people down with a sense of heaviness or intensity, leaving little room for levity or humor. Paul’s letter to Philemon, however, does have a lighthearted tone to it. At one point he makes a playful pun out of Onesimus’ name, which in Greek means ‘useful’. “Formerly he was useless to […]

Philemon and Forgiveness (Part 3)

We all know of situations where two family members reach a state of not being on speaking terms with each other. This is not only something we see in French drama movies; it can happen within any extended family system. Due to the escalation of an interpersonal conflict, one or both parties may choose to not […]

Philemon and Forgiveness (Part 2)

Over my years in restorative justice I have tracked the way certain words draw much attention as to whether they should be used or not. Take, for example, the word ‘reconciliation’. In the early days of the movement many programs within the Mennonite network in the USA were called Victim Offender Reconciliation Programs. The word […]

Philemon and Forgiveness (Part 1)

Paul’s letter to Philemon may be short, but it is a great example of a personal communication that addresses a single conflict. My guess is that Paul wrote other such letters that never resurfaced for possible canonization. Nearly all of Paul’s letters that did survive had multiple agendas, offering instruction and encouragement in lots of […]