Fullness and freedom – two aspects of Christian life that we all want to share. Paul wrote about them at length (and depth) in his letter to the Christians at Colossae, where certain new teachers were proclaiming that ‘mere Christianity’ is not enough. There is, they suggested, a fuller experience, a greater liberation, than they had so far enjoyed. But Paul was adamant: all God’s fullness is in Christ alone, and only through his complete work are we set free.
Paul’s letter to Philemon is of particular interest to us as a letter to an individual friend and convert. Yet it is not marked ‘personal and private’. It was also to be read by the church in Philemon’s house. This letter applies the themes of the fullness and freedom found in the gospel to the complex situation of Onesimus and Philemon, a scenario with much to teach us today about the relationship of the gospel of Christ to social concerns.
These are the great objective truths of the faith that Dick Lucas highlights in his exposition, enabling us to see both the riches that are ours in Christ and the irrelevance – even blasphemy – of all would-be improvements on what God has done.