The Weak, the Strong, and #MeToo: A Homily on 1 Corinthians 8

January 29, 2018

This is a guest post by Kaitlin Hardy Shetler who delivered this homily on 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 at the All Saints Church of Christ on January 28, 2018. ******** When I read Corinthians, I am struck by how many times Paul connects weakness to holiness. It’s as if the whole letter, peppered with missives to […]


Transforming Encounter: Baptism, Lord’s Supper, and Assembly

November 6, 2017

On October 28, 2017, the Central Church of Christ in Amarillo, Texas, hosted me for a morning of study.  I introduced their Sunday curriculum entitled “Transforming Encounter: Baptism, Lord’s Supper, and Assembly.” The lesson outlines for the series are available here: Transforming Encounter Amarillo 2017. My audio introductions to the lessons are available:  Audio Session […]


I’m Confident You Will Do More Than I Ask (Philemon 21-22)

November 2, 2017

Paul has set a high bar for Philemon. Given Philemon’s social world, Paul’s requests are astounding. As Philemon’s slave, Onesimus has neither social status nor civil rights. Onesimus cannot sit at the same table with his master. He cannot marry whom he chooses, and he has no real options other than what Philemon decides. As […]


October 31, 2017 –500th Anniversary of the Reformation

October 30, 2017

The Reformation in a nutshell: We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone as taught by Scripture alone. • Grace alone (sola gratia) means that God took initiative, supplies grace for every good work, and completes God’s work in us, and this includes a cooperative […]


Three Requests (Philemon 17-20)

October 25, 2017

Up to this point, Paul’s letter has greeted the community where Philemon serves, thanked God for Philemon’s service in that community, and described his relationship with Philemon’s slave Onesimus. Only now, in verses 17-20, does Paul get to the point. What does Paul want Philemon to do? Why is he writing him? Paul only uses […]


No Longer Just a Slave (Philemon 12-16)

October 16, 2017

Listening to this letter within the community of his own house church, Philemon hears Paul’s affection for Onesimus. He is not only Paul’s child but Paul’s own “heart.” “I am sending my heart back to you,” Paul writes. This simple statement has several significant rhetorical functions. First, Paul not only does not secretly hide Onesimus […]


How Can I Ask for This Favor Without Wrenching it from You? (Philemon 8-11)

October 9, 2017

Paul could demand it. Paul is “bold enough” to “command” Philemon to grant Paul’s request—whatever that is—because “in Christ” Philemon has a “duty” to obey. Paul could assert his authority, whether that is apostolic (though Paul nowhere uses that title in this letter) or relational (as if “you owe me”). Paul resists asserting his authority. […]


I Give Thanks: Paul on Philemon’s Faith and Love

September 27, 2017

For those familiar with Paul’s letters, it is no surprise that Paul follows his opening salutation with a thanksgiving. Like the opening itself, we should read this thanksgiving as more than formulaic. Rather, it introduces themes and concepts upon which Paul builds in the body of the letter, including his three requests or hopes. Paul’s […]


Today I Kneel

September 24, 2017

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal”. Martin Luther King, announcing his opposition to the Vietnam War in 1967. I love baseball. I’ve been an avid Chicago Cubs fan for over 50 years. But I love the United States of America more. I value its ideals and democratic processes. But I love justice more, […]


The Opening and Closing of the Letter to Philemon

September 19, 2017

As is common in ancient letters from the first century, the letter to Philemon has an identifiable opening (vv. 1-3) and closing (at least 23-25, some say 19-25). Though brief, they are significant for several reasons. First, they introduce us to the people connected to this letter. This includes not only the letter’s primary author […]